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2018 Update

Pari-mutual wagering began in Delaware with the opening of Delaware Park in 1936. Since that time it been a roller coaster ride for The First State. During racings hay day in the fifties Delaware Park was one of the premier venues in the country. In 1953 it was joined by Brandywine Raceway another upscale track that featured standardbred racing. Life was good in Delaware, but storm clouds were gathering.

In 1969 Dover Downs a multi purpose horse racing, auto racing facility opened up with thoroughbred racing. After a few years the runners were shelved and standardbreds took over. By the beginning of 1980 Delaware Park was also feeling the pinch, with competition from Pennsylvania, Delaware Park closed in 1982. In 1984 the track was re-opened but was only a shadow of what it was. The Standardbreds weren't fairing much better, Brandywine was shut down for good in 1989. Dover Downs was known more for car racing than horse racing. Delaware horse racing needed a miracle!

Luckily for the horse industry the State of Delaware was more progressive than any other east coast state and legalized casino style at the states race tracks, going by the name of Racino's. Not that they ever brought more bettors to the track, they sure brought people to the slots which turned into revenues for the tracks. Racing in Delaware was saved at least for now.

  In 2015 racing remained status-quo in the state, Delaware Park, Harrington Raceway and Dover Downs all ran meets with stakes races a sire stake races. To try to preserve it's market share Delaware has legalized sports betting at it's racino. Things seem well but those storm clouds could be gathering again, with Maryland opening it's first racino at Ocean Downs on Delaware's southern border, and Harrah's Casino to the north Delaware is not the only game in town any more!

As you peel the onion you always find another layer, this is the case with race tracks in Delaware. Doing more research I realized that I overlooked Georgetown Raceway in Georgetown, Delaware. The track was in existence for extended pari-mutual wagering from 1965 to 1972 which fits the timeline for this website. I will hopefully have some information on it when I do the next Delaware update.

If you wanted to visit all the Delaware tracks listed here, you would have to only drive a little over 100 miles. Depending on the time of day and year you have a good chance to find live racing, if not there's plenty of gaming action. Say you left Chester Harness in Pennsylvania, you could drive 13 miles to the old Brandywine site, which is now Beaver Valley Plaza, a little ways away you can find Clubhouse Lane, which will take you to the old training track, which for now is about the only sign that racing existed there. The next three stops take you to 24/7 non stop action.

Eleven miles down the road is Delaware Park, which has non stop gaming, sports betting and thoroughbred racing in spring and summer. From there you have to suck it up a bit, because it's 45 miles to Dover, the next stop. Dover is also 24/7 gaming, with live harness racing November thru April. You have to watch these Delaware Harness Tracks, they race mostly Sunday to Thursday, no Friday or Saturday. Dover is unique in that it has a NASCAR oval around the horse track, and holds car racing twice a year. By the time Dover hits the rear mirror, and you get slot withdrawal, Harrington Raceway is only seventeen miles away on Route 13.

Harrington Raceway isn't Dover Downs, no NASCAR, fancy hotel, but you can play 24/7 there too. Live racing is run on and off from April to October. Both Dover and Harrington are bridge tracks with a later post time either 4:30 or 5:30. After Harrington, the trip is almost over as you head to the most depressing stop on the tour.

After about fifteen more miles on Route 13, you turn on Route 404 and follow it for ten miles to Georgetown. Here at least for now you will find a pile of rubble, that was once the grandstand of troubled Georgetown Raceway. Now your depressed, so you have to make a choice there's more gaming or racing in Ocean City, Maryland. The dilemma, do you want to take a leisurely drive on Route 1, down the Delaware Shore, or scream down 113 to get there faster?

2018 Update

I was thinking not much has changed in Delaware, until I discovered another one of my mistakes. I was a few hundred feet off on my location of Brandywine Raceway. Ironically it pointed out how similar Brandywine and Liberty Bell Park are even in death. Once they peacefully co-existed, sharing the racing year. Along the way times changed and they went head to head against each other, a move that would kill off both tracks. Liberty Bell was buried under a mall and so was Brandywine. The other track that's non existent is Georgetown Raceway, it was only open for six years between 1965 and 1971, the grandstand either fell down or torn down a few years ago. It's across from the airport east of Georgetown, on Route 9, the outline of an oval is still there, but that's about it.

Thanks to their racino status the other Delaware tracks, Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway are still running live races. Delaware Park is well maintained and runs a nice summer meet. Dover Downs, probably gets more fans on two weekends of NASCAR racing, than a full year of harness racing. Harrington, the most southern track, is the blue collar venue of the group, no lush grounds or fancy hotel here.