The 2013 racing season that concluded December 28 at Penn National Race Course set a high water mark for both racing and wagering accomplishments.
The average nightly live handle of $1,078,543 for the 197-night meet was an all-time record and an increase of 6.4% versus the 2012 comparative.
June 1 – the inaugural Penn Mile race card – was a milestone date in the 42-year history of Penn National Race Course. A record $1.199 million in purses were offered on the 10-race card, including the richest race in Penn National history, the $500,000 Penn Mile for three-year olds on the turf. Rydilluc was a decisive winner of the Penn Mile for trainer Gary Contessa.
All-time Penn National wagering records set on Penn Mile day included highest total live wagering handle ($3,658,996 eclipsing the 1998 record of $2,173,921), highest single race total handle ($1,139,478), highest on-track live handle ($225,136) and highest Pick 4 wagering pool ($199,514.).
“This season definitely exceeded expectations,” said Christopher McErlean, Vice President of Racing for Penn National Gaming, Inc., parent company of Penn National Race Course. “A terrific new racing event was created which should have even more growth potential going forward and the entire racing team, along with the strong support of our horsemen, did a great job in putting together a solid product throughout the season,” McErlean added.
Season leaders for the 2013 racing season included jockey David Cora with 178 wins in 932 starts; trainer John Locke with 90 wins in 571 starts and owner Rock Bottom Ranch with 32 wins in 104 starts. Most wins by a horse at the meet belonged to Reign Suzanne who tallied all eight of her 2013 victories at Penn National in 14 starts, moving from maiden claiming company to a late fall stakes appearance for trainer Sandee Beattie.
Top stakes horses graced the Penn National dirt and grass courses in 2013. Mountainview Handicap winner Easter Gift went on to finish third behind likely champions Will Take Charge and Charles Town Classic winner Game on Dude in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs in late November. Governor's Cup winner Tighendtouchdown parlayed that win into four successive second place stakes finishes, three of them graded, including a dead heat second place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita. The gritty gelding Ben's Cat won the $250,000 Fabulous Strike Handicap the night before Thanksgiving for trainer King Leatherbury, marking the seven-year-old's 19th career stakes victory.
Noteworthy as well was the multiple Grade 1 campaign of the Pennsylvania-bred three-year-old filly Princess of Sylmar, who broke her maiden in late 2012 at Penn National in eye catching fashion for trainer Todd Pletcher. That win shot “Princess” into another orbit as she went on to topple the best of her division as well as older mare champion Royal Delta during her 2013 campaign.
Penn National will conduct a 200 date live meet in 2014 with opening night on January 2. The track will run a Wednesday through Saturday live racing schedule through most of the season. Post time will be 6 p.m. nightly.
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