04/26/2007 12:00AM

Big picture for new Delaware meet


Don't bother bringing your binoculars to Delaware Park this season. You won't need them.

A giant video screen with a diagonal span of nearly 49 feet has been installed just to the right of the infield tote board as part of $6.1 million in capital improvements the track has made for the opening of the 2007 season on Saturday.

The infield board will enable patrons in the grandstand, clubhouse, and track apron to view the horses more easily, especially when they're on the backstretch. The new video board, manufactured by Barco, Inc., measures 38 feet, 10 inches high, and 29 feet, 4 inches wide, and has a diagonal measurement of 48 feet, 8 inches.

In an attempt to cater to its high rollers, Delaware has built an invitation-only VIP room on the first floor of the clubhouse. It features a video wall of 32 50-inch monitors, with the capability of displaying one image as large as 4ofeet by 4 feet, and 24 personal granite cubicles equipped with self-service wagering devices.

Improvements have also been made on the third floor of the clubhouse, where a new video board with 57 50-inch monitors has been installed, along with a bar. On the same floor, two new video walls, one with 38 50-inch monitors and the other with 16 50-inch monitors, have been added to the New Castle Room dining area.

On the racetrack, jockey Ramon Dominguez is returning in quest of his fifth consecutive riding title, and Scott Lake will try to become only the second trainer to lead the Delaware standings for six straight years. Bud Delp owns the track record, winning seven consecutive training titles from 1963 through 1969.

Among the trainers who will be stabled at Delaware for the first time are Lynn Scace and Molly Pearson.

Scace, the leading trainer at Tampa Bay Downs through Monday with 32 winners, will have about 40 horses on the grounds, including Roman Candles, winner of the Pelican Stakes this past winter.

Pearson, tied for fifth in the standings at Turf Paradise through Monday with 36 winners, has shipped about 30 horses for her first extended visit to the East Coast. Among the large group of 3-year-olds she has is Tom Rickey, who although still a maiden has finished third behind such top-caliber runners as Cobalt Blue, Great Hunter, and Stormello.

In addition to Lake, the high-percentage barn of Larry Jones appears well stocked for a successful meet. Jones, stabling at Delaware for the second straight summer, will have almost 50 horses stabled at the track and numerous 2-year-olds at nearby farms.

Jones should be especially strong in races for fillies and mares, drawing from a list that includes Gasia, a 4-year-old he may point to the meet's premier event, the $1 million Delaware Handicap on July 15. Gasia most recently won the $100,000 Bayakoa at Oaklawn Park earlier this month.

Two other horses Jones has high hopes for this meet are entered on Saturday's opening-day card. Street Minstrel, who was 2 for 2 at the recently concluded Oaklawn meet, faces five other 3-year-old fillies in a second-level allowance sprint (race 5).

Miss Elsie, who won the Light Hearted Stakes at Delaware and was third in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss at Saratoga, is among seven older female sprinters going six furlongs in the $75,000 Sweet and Sassy Stakes. She was 0 for 4 at Oaklawn, but just missed two starts back in the Spring Fever.

The filly to beat, if she is ready to fire fresh, is Wild Gams. Second in the Grade 1 Prioress at Belmont Park last July, Wild Gams has been off since winning the Grade 3 Safely Kept at Laurel in October.