PA Thoroughbred tracks approved for 455 programs in 2018

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Nov. 30, 2017

The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission Nov. 29 approved requests for a total of 455 racing dates at the state’s three Thoroughbred tracks next year. The figure is down slightly from the 464 awarded for 2017.

Three Standardbred tracks were awarded a combined 481 racing programs for a total of 936 at six tracks in 2018.

Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course leads the way with 185 days of racing, followed by Parx Racing at 170 and Presque Isle Downs & Casino at 100. For 2017, Penn National was awarded 194 dates, Parx 170, and Presque Isle 100.

According to a schedule submitted to the PHRC, Parx will race from Jan. 1-Dec. 29 under two licenses, the Bensalem Racing Association and the Keystone Turf Club. Racing will be held three days a week—Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays—from January through April; Sundays will be added in May.

For June and July, racing will be held Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays and Sunday, June 17. After racing the first Saturday, Monday and Tuesday in August, there will a short break in the live action until Aug. 25, when Parx will switch to a Saturday-through-Tuesday schedule through the end of the year. There will be no racing Sunday, Dec. 16 or from Dec. 23-28.

Horsemen at Parx are represented by the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, one of six THA affiliates.

Penn National, according to its submittal, will kick off its year Jan. 3 and wrap up the season Dec. 29. Racing is scheduled for four nights a week on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule from January through April, August, and November and December. May, June, July, September and October will feature racing three nights a week on a Thursday-through-Saturday schedule.

Presque Isle will race four programs a week (Monday through Thursday) from May 14-June 14 and then add Sundays for five-day racing weeks through closing day, Oct. 4, according to a scheduled submitted to the PHRC.

The Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association represents horsemen at Penn National and Presque Isle.

The state’s racetracks share in the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund, which is fueled by a percentage of revenue from casino-based slot machines. In 2016 the RHDF—it was changed to a trust under gaming expansion legislation that became law this fall—totaled about $245 million for the racing industry.

For the first four months of fiscal 2017-18 (July through October) more than $80.3 million was generated for the RHDF.

(Parx Racing photo by Nikki Sherman/PTHA)