Parx plans to return to almost year-round schedule in 2017

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Dec. 5, 2016

Parx Racing in 2017 would revert to its typical schedule of year-round racing with the exception of a three-month break in August under a proposal pending approval by the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission.

Parx, located just northeast of Philadelphia, Pa., is slotted for 170 racing programs next year with mainly three- or four-day racing weeks beginning Jan. 1. In 2016 the track was dark for roughly the first two months of the year, and for a period in September and October greatly increased overnight purses as part of a “festival of racing.”

The number of live racing dates would increase by 17 from last year under the schedule.

“Obviously I am pleased with the increased number of racing dates,” Mike Ballezzi, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, said Dec. 5. “It is a great opportunity for our horsemen to take advantage of the increased purses. The additional dates give us exclusivity in the region and should increase our handle.”

After the Jan. 1 program, there would be no Sunday racing until April. From January-March, racing would be held Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Sundays, with the exception the Easter holiday, would be added in April and May to make for four-day racing weeks. In June and July racing would be held three days a week, with Sundays dropped with the exception of June 18, according to the proposed calendar.

Before the break, racing would be held Aug. 1, 5, 7 and 8. Racing would resume Sept. 2, and for the remainder of the year be held four days a week—Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays with the exception of Dec. 25.

Parx, which has one of the most successful casinos in the country and is owned and operated by Greenwood Racing, in 2015 offered 210 days of racing, but last year the number dropped to 153. Purses at Parx receive a share of revenue from casino-based slot machines in Pennsylvania.

(Photo of Parx Racing by Tom LaMarra)