Delaware Park has walked a long road to get to where it is today. Since its inception in 1937 by William duPont, Jr., it has undergone many dramatic changes. These changes have created the character and atmosphere of Delaware Park, which graciously accommodates the horse player, casino guest, sports bettor and golfer.
Through seven decades, Delaware Park has consistently offered the best in horse racing. Legends such as Kelso, Buckpasser, Damascus and Spectacular Bid have been victorious at the Stanton oval. More recently the track has spawned the careers of Afleet Alex, Barbaro, Hard Spun, Eight Belles and 2011 Horse-of-the-Year, Havre de Grace. The track is situated on a unique and picturesque country landscape with stately century-old oaks and grassy pastures. Most important, Delaware Park’s gracious hospitality from its dedicated and loyal employees welcomes fans and horsemen.
In late 1983, the late William Rickman, Sr., a Rockville, Md., developer of office buildings and parks and a dedicated horse owner, acquired Delaware Park. The track’s bottom line was marginal and its survival surprised most skeptics. Realizing the track’s existence was in jeopardy, Rickman sought avenues to protect the long-term future of Delaware Park, including efforts for relief legislation in the form of slot machines.
In the summer of 1993, William Rickman, Jr., took over the day-to-day reins of the racetrack and personally took charge of the efforts to seek video lottery legislation. In June of 1994, the Delaware General Assembly passed The Horse Racing Redevelopment Act, legalizing video lottery gaming at Delaware tracks. On December 29, 1995, the slot facility opened, ushering in the “new era of the grand tradition at Delaware Park.”
The upcoming 78th season promises to add another exciting chapter in the history of Delaware Park. The Delaware Oaks and the Grade I Delaware Handicap in July highlight the season, which will open May 16th.
The track remains in a continuous state of renovation and now includes a championship caliber golf course. The Rickman family has focused on reinvesting profits back into the facility to upgrade the property and plant, while improving its technology to remain competitive within the industry. Delaware Park is committed to the continuing program of improvements that will ensure its stature as the premier multi-faceted sports and entertainment venue in the Delaware Valley.