08/02/2007 11:00PM

Late-bloomer gets his share of $1M


The richest day of Thoroughbred racing ever held in Pennsylvania took place last Saturday, June 28, at Philadelphia Park. And Pennsylvania-breds had it all to themselves.

The seventh annual Pennsylvania's Day at the Races - nearly doubled in size from previous years - consisted of 11 races, 10 of them stakes, restricted to Pennsylvania-breds. Purses totaled more than $1 million.

It was a rewarding homecoming for some runners, most notably Delaware River, a solid-performing 6-year-old gelding who scored by 2 1/2 lengths as 11-10 favorite in the inaugural running of the featured $125,000 Smarty Jones Classic.

Named for the Pennsylvania-bred who won the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness - a feat that helped to bring slots to Pennsylvania by focusing attention on the importance of the state's breeding and racing program - the Smarty Jones Classic offered the highest purse of any Pennsylvania-bred race to date.

Delaware River, bred by Bill and Denise Dommel's Land of Believe Farm in Annville, Pa., is a late-bloomer who is just beginning to show the class inherent in his pedigree. A son of Quiet American, he pounded out his early career in the claiming and allowance ranks while Pennsylvania struggled to bring together its slots program over the past few years.

Delaware River preceded his Smarty Jones victory with a win in the statebred-restricted Watchman's Warning Stakes July 5 at Penn National.

The Dommels, who breed for the commercial market, sold Delaware River for $62,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale, but his recent campaign has been a windfall for them.

They will receive a total of $20,600 in breeder bonuses for his last two starts.

Delaware River was one of only two foals the Dommels bred from the Theatrical mare Alphe, whom they purchased for $265,000, in foal to Jade Hunter, at the 1999 Keeneland November sale. They resold her for $210,000 (in foal to El Prado) at the 2002 Keeneland January sale.

A half-sister to Grade 1-winning millionaire Yagli (by Jade Hunter), Alphe is a granddaughter of blue-hen producer Best in Show.

Delaware River was campaigning for owner Mike Gill and trainer Mark Shuman when his current owner, Marylander Donald Campbell, claimed him for $15,000 at Laurel Park in February 2005. Since then, Delaware River has earned $257,422. His career total, from 47 starts, stands at $337,462.

Delaware River is trained by the owner's son, Bill Campbell, at Bowie Training Center.

The younger Campbell, who is 32, had already proven adroit in statebred programs. He won the 2005 and 2006 runnings of the $500,000 West Virginia Breeders Classic at Charles Town with Speed Whiz, also a $15,000 claim.

Double restriction applied

Four of the stakes on the Pennsylvania's Day at the Races card were restricted to horses both bred and sired in the state.

Secretintelligence, a 4-year-old gelding bred and owned in partnership by his trainer, Tim Ritchey, seized the opportunity and won the Captain My Captain Handicap. He is the first stakes winner for his sire, Smart Guy, whom Ritchey trained to win the 1999 running of the Grade 3 Pennsylvania Derby. Smart Guy stands at Fox Tale Stud in Coopersburg, Pa.

Winners of the other Pennsylvania-sired events were Hisssouthernmajesty (by Southern Rhythm), bred by Mr. and Mrs. Mark Ridall; Raging Rapids (Roanoke), bred by Fiasco Farms Ltd.; and Anthony Merlino's homebred She's Fancy Free (Peteski).

Additional stakes winners were Banjo Picker, bred by Elizabeth R. Houghton; John Law, bred by Jonathan Sheppard; Equivine Farm's homebred Redaspen; Daniel M. Ryan's homebred Remain Silent; and Richard and Gale Reveley's homebred S W Alysvalentine.