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Apr 16, 2010

Delaware Park attracts big name rider

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In the decade of the 1990s whenever the name of Shane Sellers was listed as the jockey for a racehorse, many a dollar would be automatically bet on that entry. Sellers was easily on his way to a Hall of Fame career as a jockey.

While that career has had some twists and turns, Sellers is back riding horses and this summer he will be plying his trade at Delaware Park. The historic track near Wilmington will begin its 73rd season of live racing on the first Saturday in May.

"I know Delaware Park has a tough competitive meet," said Sellers. "I know I am going to have to come here and work hard and do whatever I need to do, but I am hungry and I want it again. This place is really amazing. I love golf and it was pretty cool driving in and seeing the golf course right there. The racetrack and stable area are beautiful and it really reminds of Saratoga and Keeneland. A real laid back nice place. I have been to the track and it seems like a great track with a real good feel. I do not know if it is just because I am so happy to be back in the game or what, but so far I am really enjoying myself."

A Louisiana native, the 43-year-old Sellers will be coming to Delaware Park now that Fair Grounds Racecourse in New Orleans has completed its 2009-10 season. This year the veteran rider has 25 wins in 275 mounts for $965,286.

"I had an unbelievable meet on a lot of different levels," said Sellers. "I finished fifth in the standings and I finished near the top in purses earned. I went into the Fair Grounds meet with an open mind and with the attitude to change what everybody thought of me. If I accomplished that it would be have been a successful meet, and I did, though it took a little longer with some. I rode for some people that I thought would never give me a shot again, so it gave me hope that at 43-years-old I can still compete with these kids, even though I had been away from riding for nearly five years. On all those counts, I feel I was successful."

He finished fifth in the Fair Grounds standings with a record of 49 wins, 61 seconds, and 53 thirds with purses earned of $1,881,265.

"After the Fair Grounds meet, I wanted to find a track that would allow me to continue to ride good horses," Sellers said. "I left the game riding good horses, I rode good horses at the Fair Grounds over the winter and I wanted to find a track where I could continue to ride good horses. I have ridden at every possible level and I wanted to get back there. I thought about a couple different tracks. Cody Autrey mentioned something about riding some of his horses at Delaware Park. Honestly, it was something I never thought of, but there were so many people coming from the Fair Grounds to here, so I started talking to them and they said they would give me shot. So I really started thinking Delaware Park might be the right track for me. For six months I could go to a nice place and ride for these people and when they go back to the Fair Grounds, hopefully I will have the opportunity to ride for them there. It seemed like a win-win situation."

Following a retirement from the sport for more than four years, Sellers began a comeback last July at Evangeline Downs in his home state. Since stepping away from being a jockey he was working as a trainer.

"I understood that I left the game with some baggage and I knew there was going to be some people not coming my way, so I knew I had to depend upon my ability," noted Sellers. "When I was down and out and really did not have anybody, I turned to God. He got me back. That is what I ask every day. I do not ask to win. I ask for him to let me ride to the best of my ability and be confident. I understood for my comeback to be a success that was how I was going to make it happen."

Sellers has more than 2,100 wins in over 24,000 career mounts with total earnings of $124 million. He was 1998 Horse of the Year Skip Away's primary rider during the colt's three-year-old and four-year-old seasons. The pair posted wins in the Blue Grass Stakes, Travers, Woodbine Million and the Jockey Club Gold Cup, all in 1996. In 1997 they registered victories in the Massachusetts and Suburban Handicaps. Skip Away was voted champion three-year- old male in 1996.

In 1997 Sellers won the $1 million Juvenile Fillies with Countess Diana and the 1998 $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf aboard Buck's Boy.

He won back to back Florida Derbies in 1998 with Cape Town and in 1999 on Vicar. Sellers also has two wins in the Louisiana Derby, 1998 aboard Comic Strip and 2000 with Mighty.

He won the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland three times, in 1995 with Wild Syn, 1996 with Skip Away and 2004 with The Cliff's Edge. Sellers also has three victories in Keeneland's Ashland for three-year-old fillies, 1991 with Do It With Style, 1993 aboard Lunar Spook and with Rings a Chime in 2000.

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