The class of 2008 consists of Damascus, Virgil "Buddy" Raines, Chris McCarron, Foxcatcher Farms and R.R.M. Carpenter Jr. These inductees were selected by a panel of Delaware Park executives. An inductee was chosen from each of the following categories: horse, trainer, jockey, owner, and non-participant, respectively with only one nominee from each category elected.
Mrs. Edith Bancroft's Damascus was the Horse of the Year in 1967. The great son of Sword Dancer trained by Frank Whitely, Jr. retired from racing with a record of 21 wins from 32 starts with earnings $1,176,781. The Kentucky-bred won the Preakness, Belmont, Travers, Woodward, and Jockey Club Gold Cup as a 3-year-old. Damascus ran at Delaware Park four times. In 1967, he won Leonard Richards Stakes and lost the William duPont Jr. Handicap by a nose as the 1-to-5 favorite. In 1968, he won an allowance and avenged his loss in the William duPont Handicap by galloping to a 2-length victory.
Virgil "Buddy" Raines trained for 65 years and saddled some 21 stake winners. Raines enjoyed his greatest success training for Brandywine Stables. He conditioned Greek Money, the winner of the 1962 Preakness; Cochise, the winner of Saratoga Cup; and Open Fire, the 1966 handicap mare champion; for the stable locally owned by Donald Ross. At Delaware Park, he won seven major stakes including the Delaware Handicap twice, with Everget (1944) and Open Fire (1966) and the Sussex Stakes three times with Masked General (1940) and Cochise (1950 & 1951).
Chris McCarron rode from 1974 through 2002 and had 7,141 winners from 34,239 mounts. He won two Kentucky Derbies, two Preakness stakes, and five Breeders' Cup Classics. He was the annual leading money-winning jockey four times; the annual leading jockey in races won twice, and won the Eclipse Award in 1980. He was the leading rider at Delaware Park in 1974 the same year he won the Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice. He won three stake races at Delaware Park. They were the Open Fire Stakes (1975 and 1977) and the New Castle Stakes (1976).
Foxcatcher Farms was locally owned by the late William duPont Jr., who designed and built Delaware Park. His passion and dedication to the sport of horse racing led to the construction and eventual opening of Delaware Park in 1937. As a race horse owner, duPont campaigned three champions in the three decades. They were Fairy Chant, the handicap mare champion of 1941; Parlo, the 3-year-old filly and handicap mare champion of 1954; and Berlo, the 3-year-old filly champion of 1960. In 1937, he raced Rosemont, who defeated Seabiscuit on successive occasions at Santa Anita, first in the San Antonio Handicap and then in the Santa Anita Handicap. At Delaware Park, Foxcatcher Farm won the first running of Delaware Handicap (then named the New Castle Handicap), with Rosenna in 1937. In 1955, the farm notched a second Delaware Handicap with Parlo. He also won the Kent Stakes with Chevation in 1954.
R.R.M. Carpenter, Jr. served as chairman of the Delaware Racing Commission from 1971 until 1989. He successfully guided Delaware racing through an era of increased competition from neighboring states which eventually led to the closing, in 1982, and reopening, in 1984, of Delaware Park. Carpenter left an indelible footprint on sports in the Delaware Valley. In addition to serving as chairman of the Delaware Racing Commission, he owned the Philadelphia Phillies for three decades and he served on the Board of Trustees and the Committee on Athletics and Physical Education at the University of Delaware. The University of Delaware's Bob Carpenter Sports/Convocation Center, which opened in 1992, is named in his honor for his generous dedication to the school.