Pennsylvania Thoroughbred tracks approved for 350 racing programs in 2024

By: Tom LaMarra

Dec. 6, 2023

The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission at its Nov. 28 meeting granted approval for the state’s three Thoroughbred tracks to offer 350 racing programs in 2024. The number is down from the 385 approved for 2023.

The state’s three Standardbred tracks were approved for 415 live racing programs, bringing the total to 765 in the coming year, down 32 from the number approved for 2023. In previous years, racing associations have often requested adjustments based on economic conditions after the new year begins, and that could be the case in 2024.

Parx Racing is scheduled to add four programs in 2024 for a total of 155.  Presque Isle Downs & Casino requested 80 dates, roughly the number it raced in 2023. Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course is trimming 19 programs, which will create two lengthy breaks in the calendar.

Parx plans to run from Jan. 1-Dec. 31 with racing primarily three days a week: Monday through Wednesday. There will be eight Saturday cards currently scheduled for May 4, May 18, June 8, Aug. 24, Sept. 21 (Pennsylvania Derby Day), Oct. 12, Nov. 2 and Dec. 28.

Presque Isle will open May 13 and conclude its meet Oct. 24. Racing will be offered three (Monday through Wednesday) or four (Monday through Thursday) days a week.

Penn National will kick off its meet Jan. 10 and race Wednesday through Friday until March 22. There will be no live racing again until May 2. With the exception of May 4, Kentucky Derby Day, racing will be held Wednesdays through Fridays until Aug. 30

The second break will occur for the month of September and three weeks in October. Racing will resume with the customary schedule Oct. 23 and conclude Dec. 27.

Management and the Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association have noted that retail slot machine revenue—the driver of the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Trust Fund—has been declining at the local casino. Penn National in 2023 cut back to seven races per night and also was shuttered for about one month.

Director of Racing Eric Johnston said the tighter schedule will hopefully lead to larger fields, and daily average purses will increase. “Hopefully with less comes more next year,” he sai.d

Hollywood Casino at The Meadows, a western Pennsylvania harness facility, submitted an application for 170 days, the same number as this year. The Meadows will host the most racing dates of any track in the state and race year-round.