Brandywine Raceway was a 5/8 mile Standardbred harness track in Wilmington, Delaware, that opened in September 7, 1953, and closed on December 28, 1989.
The first race was won by Head Pin for a purse of $900 before 13,500 fans.
Horseracing-tracks.com describes the track this way:
“When Brandywine Raceway first opened it was your traditional half mile oval, and drivers were still wearing those floppy soft hats, but in 1970 as part of a four million dollar makeover, the racing surface was expanded to five eights of a mile. When Brandywine ended it’s run, it had a grandstand capacity of 12,000 with parking for 10,500 cars. Over the years many top drivers and horses raced over the Brandywine surface, Billy Haughton and Stanley Dancer were regulars and a young Herve Filion started out there.”
A HarnessLink.com article described the track as follows:
“Brandywine was considered as the nicest, best kept, best managed racetrack imaginable. The racetrack surrounded two tall water towers located in a centerfield lake. Fans would be treated to glorious sunsets as the races began during the Summer months. Across a parking lot, the racing office, the ‘White House’ publicity office where hospitality was on after the races nightly, fronted the Horsemen’s Kitchen and Snack Bar.
Superintendent Bill Davis designed a remarkable setup for its horse barns which allowing air flow for horse. Brandywine also featured modern Grooms Quarters accommodations caretakers with a cushioned bed and air conditioning.
Even today, horsemen and fans continue to remember the ‘gone but not forgotten’ great days of Brandywine Raceway.”
Today the site of Brandywine Raceway is an upscale housing development named Brandywine Hunt. The pond from the interior of the track can still be seen along a street named Clubhouse Lane and bordering the pond is what appears to be the outline of the track.
My experience with Brandywine Raceway was limited to one event. About 1976 I was part of an Arabian horse exhibition that took place at the racetrack. I was just a child so I was unaware of the details but I clearly remember riding a 3/4 Arabian mare named Holly. She was a wonderful horse who would do anything but that evening she spent quite a bit of time looking around wide-eyed. That’s us in the photograph below at the right. I rode Holly English and western and I guess we were asked to go western that night.
I think part of the mission that night was to show the diversity of the Arabian horse. You can see some people dressed in native costume, some with halter horses, some riding western, some hunt seat, and some saddle seat.
If anyone has further memories of this demonstration, please leave a comment!