This past Saturday July 10, 2021, I spent the day at Delaware Park with my family and I'm thrilled to share with you my experience.
I've been there a few times and always had fun. But this was my first time there with my child, who is now three years old. I was taking him to a horse track for just the third time. We brought him to Penn National twice, once under a year old, and second time when he was about one and a half.
There are plenty of things Horse Racing does well, and also things it can still improve upon. There are also little-known perks us Racing fans can enjoy if we only knew about, which I'll show in a bit.
Almost every year I get asked the question from my girlfriend, what do you want to do for your birthday? And almost every year the answer is the same. The horse track. And off we go! It's just a matter which one I want to go to.
I could've chosen either Parx, Penn, Delaware, all three of which are about an hour and a half away from me. But this year I picked Delaware, which I think is the nicest of the three. It has been a little while since I've been there. And what a great time to go: it was Delaware Park handicap day.
The locals call it Del-Cap day. When the entries came out early in the week I was stoked to see the card. First couple things I noticed was Trevor McCarthy had mounts on a few and I saw Tyler Conner was listed on one. Both are good friends of the website and podcast.
I reached out to Tyler and there was a chance his horse would be scratched. Ultimately that was the case. But I was still pumped about meeting Trevor and also Tom from @TomandTomRacing on Twitter. Tom is another good friend of the show who has been on the podcast multiple times. There were also quite a few good horses listed including Chub Wagon.
The day came and we showed up to the track around noon to grab lunch. We parked in the back and walked past the beautiful paddock—Delaware has one of the nicest paddocks there is.
I ended up seeing Tom and met him real quick before heading to lunch.
The first race of the 10-race program was scheduled for 1:15 pm. We ended up getting burgers and hot dogs from The Grove. Now we were ready to go for the big day of racing!
After seeing horses for race 1 in Delaware's beautiful paddock we headed to the grandstand. With all the walking we were going to do...
"We knew Blake, our 3 year old son,
would not walk all day so we had a stroller."
Now this would be our biggest complaint of the day and something we wish some horse tracks would make easier.
To go from the paddock to the grandstand, you had to go up one floor either by elevator or steps. Not the easiest with a stroller and also very time consuming.
It would be so much easier if you could just walk straight from the paddock to the main part of the track, even if you don't have a kid. It was very time consuming. You have roughly 25 minutes between each race but that goes by very quickly.
As soon as a race is official, you head to the paddock. By the time you get there, you have about 10 minutes till you're placing your bet and heading back to the track. It can be quite tiring.
Sure, you could just sit in one place, or stay in the paddock area where you can go up to the gate and see as well, but I wanted the full experience. I wanted to get to the paddock as much as possible and be near the finish line when racing started.
One thing you will notice is how close you can get to the jockeys and the majority of them will talk to you.
"This is the biggest thing that horse
racing as a whole needs to capitalize on."
Yes, you can go to other sports and maybe see your favorite athlete and possibly get a signature, but that's about it. With horse racing you can hold conversations, get pictures, autographs, etc. from most of your favorites.
After Race 2, I did get to say hello and ask jockey Daniel Centeno about possibly coming on the podcast. He was a very nice guy. In Race 4, Trevor McCarthy was on a horse, and I was in the paddock when he came out. He was met with absolutely thrilled fans who were glad to see Trevor back home for a day.
Trevor had just moved out west a couple months ago. Fans were shaking his hand and talking to him. Trevor took time out for all of them. I got to say hi and ask for a picture which would happen later in the day.
That same race was when Chub Wagon ran. She is absolutely beautiful and a true professional. She won easily on the front end and improved her record to 8 for 8 lifetime.
Walking back and forth from the track to the paddock did get exhausting after a few races. A bunch of the times my girlfriend and my son would just stay at the grandstand.
"The issue with that for kids is there
is not much to see or do between races."
One thing my kid is into, and did have fun seeing, was the water trucks and tractors. So this was fine with him.
One of the later races, I did get to talk to Trevor and get my picture taken with him. The guy was absolutely who I thought he was—a really nice guy. We got to talk about the fact that he really wanted a little boy but will be having a girl, and how life was going in California. Trevor had no complaints about California, and Katie loved it out there.
Before the big race of the day, the Delaware Handicap, I joined the Saturday podcast with Terry and Rich for a few minutes. Tom got on as well, as he actually gave out the winner #6 Miss Marissa as the heavy favorite; #5 Bonny South didn't hit the board. My son Blake made his YouTube debut, as I showed him off in his cool Paw Patrol sunglasses. You can find this here from 4:52.00 - 4:57.00.
By the time the last race came, my son and girlfriend went to the track's playground, which was such a nice thing for kids. I did my thing and then after the race, stood by the gate near the paddock where jockeys and trainers would walk back.
I got to talk to some as they came by. I talked with Aubrie Green and got to take her picture, as well as Daniel Centeno, who I took a picture with. I also got to talk to trainer Jamie Ness, who was very nice and said he would be willing to come on the podcast which hopefully works out sometime. All were very nice and seemed like class acts.
"This is the part of the sport
that has to be advertised more"
It was cool for me, now at 36 years old, to meet the people involved in the sport. You know, kids would love that part of it. It was also free to park and get into Delaware Park. I know not all tracks are like that but kudos to Delaware on that. Kids were able to pet some of the ponies between races, which is nice. More parents should take their kids to the track and get them hooked on the experience of the racetrack, which doesn't have to be the betting part.
As we got back to the car my son said, "I had so much fun". The next couple days after the races, he did ask if we were going back. If you have never been to the track or if you now have kids and are afraid to go, please, take a chance and go. I'm telling you that you won't regret it. You and your family will enjoy your experience. Go to the paddock and talk to some of the jockeys and trainers and get some pictures.
If you're close to Delaware Park or want to take a road trip, I recommend it as it is an absolutely beautiful track. We all enjoyed our day. I would like to thank Trevor McCarthy, Aubrie Green, Daniel Centeno, and Jamie Ness for taking time out for me and letting me take pictures. I would also like to thank Tom from @TomandTomRacing it was a pleasure to meet you.