04/29/2010 12:00AM

New names, table games, and schedule at Delaware


Say good-bye to Sunday racing and hello to table games at Delaware Park this season.

The 73rd year of live racing at the track, near Wilmington, Del., begins Saturday and continues for 116 days through Nov. 6.

Sunday racing, which was limited to June and July last year, has been dropped from the schedule, replaced by Thursdays from July 15 through Aug. 26.

Casino players are eagerly awaiting the addition of table games, including poker, craps, and blackjack, tentatively scheduled to open early this summer. Racing purses will get 4.5 percent of the revenue produced by the table games.

Overnight purse distribution will remain at the 2009 level of $200,000 a day, thanks to some cutbacks in stakes.

Most notably, the track's signature event, the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap, which had been worth $1 million since 2005, will now be worth $750,000 when it is run July 17.

Overall, Delaware will offer 22 stakes worth $3.1 million. Last year, the track ran 20 stakes worth the same $3.1 million.

Leading rider David Cohen, 25, who won 152 races in his first season as a full-time Delaware jockey last year, is back to defend his title.

Shane Sellers, 43, who came out retirement last year to finish fifth in the jockey standings at the Fair Grounds meet that ended in March, will ride regularly at Delaware for the first time.

Cody Autry, who ended Scott Lake's seven-year run as leading trainer, returns for his second season at Delaware with 40 horses.

Among the noteable new trainers with 30 to 40 horses on the grounds are Steve Hobby, D. Wayne Lukas, Bret Calhoun, and Mac Robertson.

For the fifth year, Larry and Cindy Jones will be Delaware regulars, but their roles have reversed. Larry Jones retired as a trainer after last fall's Breeders' Cup but now serves as assistant to his wife, Cindy, his former assistant.

The opening-day card attracted 90 horses for nine Thoroughbred and one Arabian race - comparable to the 92 for last year's first program.

The featured ninth race, the $75,000 Vincent Moscarelli Memorial at six furlongs, is topped by the Darley Stable coupled entry of Past the Point and Elusive Warning.

Past the Point shortens to a sprint for the first time since finishing second in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector at Gulfstream in January. Elusive Warning, a Group 2 winner in Dubai two years ago, most recently flashed speed and faded in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct.