Three PA Thoroughbred tracks awarded 434 racing dates for 2020

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Nov. 26, 2019

The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission Nov. 25 approved requests for a total of 434 Thoroughbred racing dates in 2020.

Parx Racing was awarded 170 programs, followed by Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course with 164 and Presque Isle Downs & Casino with 100. The number of days at Parx and Presque Isle are the same as the 2019 schedules, while Penn National would race eight fewer programs.

When dates for the three Standardbred tracks are added in—The Meadows Racetrack & Casino (195), Harrah’s Philadelphia (150) and The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono (139)—the total number of racing dates awarded in the state for next year is 918.

Parx will race from Jan. 1 through Dec. 29. In a change from previous years, for the five months in which racing will be held four days a week, Wednesdays will replace Sundays with the exception of Father’s Day, June 21. Total pari-mutuel handle is expected to be higher on Wednesdays.

With the exception of New Year’s Day, a Wednesday, racing from January through March will be held three days a week on Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays. For April and May, Wednesdays will be added. June and July return to a Monday-Tuesday-Saturday schedule.

In August racing will be held five days: Aug. 1, 3 and 4, and Aug. 29 and 31. There will be a customary 25-day break during the month.

September, October and November will feature racing four days a week (Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays) and three days a week in December (no racing Wednesdays). The Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion Stakes program is set for Sept. 19, the third Saturday of the month.

The Penn National meet spans Jan. 3-Dec. 19. Racing will be held three nights a week—Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays—in January and February and four nights a week in March and April (Wednesdays through Saturdays). May reverts to three nights a week with no Thursday racing.

In June, there will be three-day weeks, with Sunday afternoon racing replacing Wednesday night programs. July, August, September and October will have racing Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

For the final two months of 2020, there will be racing on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26.

Presque Isle is scheduled to race May 11-Oct. 22. In May, June and July racing will be held four days a week Mondays through Thursdays. In August, four Sunday cards will be added, and for September and October it reverts to the regular four-day-a-week schedule.

(Parx Racing photo by Tom LaMarra)