Parx Racing Reduces Live Dates, Adds ‘Fall Festival,’ $4.4M In Capital Improvements

by | 06.26.2015 | 2:34pm

Parx Racing and the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (PTHA) announce the creation of a new, annual $20 Million Parx Racing Fall Festival that will commence on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015, and continue through Oct. 20, 2015. By doubling purse levels throughout the two month festival, Parx and the PTHA have created a signature racing meet that will attract top horse racing talent in the industry, increase the field size of the races, enhance betting interest, and draw new fans to the racetrack.

Over the past four years, Parx Racing and the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (PTHA) have worked to build a Fall Festival around one of the track's signature racing days – the $1 Million Pennsylvania Derby (GII) and Cotillion Stakes (GI) – which last year featured Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome, along with the eventual Breeders' Cup Classic champion Bayern. In addition, last year's Cotillion Stakes was led by Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Untapable. This exciting new initiative will build on that past success by doubling purses for each of the 32 live race days during the new Fall Festival.

Parx Racing will not run eight scheduled dates from Aug. 15-28 leading up to the Fall Festival to complete some capital improvements to the facility.

“Parx is thrilled to work with the PTHA on this revitalizing plan to enhance our overall live racing product for our owners and trainers as well as racing fans,” said Joe Wilson, COO Parx Racing. “This significant agreement is a reflection of the ongoing commitment of Parx Racing and the PTHA to offer the highest caliber racing program for our devoted fans. We especially look forward to our new $20-Million Parx Racing Fall Festival and the great anticipation that will be generated each year leading up to it.”

To help fund the increased purse levels during the Fall Festival, Parx and the PTHA have agreed to reduce the annual number of live racing days to 153. This reduction in live race days will consist of two separate breaks in winter and summer that will include the Christmas holidays through mid-February and three weeks in August beginning in 2016. The track will remain open for training year-round, including the days closed for live racing.

Parx Racing scheduled 210 racing days in 2015, so the reduction to 153 is a 27 percent cut in live dates.

Also as part of the new agreement, Parx Racing will invest an additional $4.4 Million in racetrack infrastructure and property improvements to enhance the overall racing experience for everyone associated with the live racing events. Improvements will include installation of a new safety rail, beautification of the track's paddock and Winner's Circle, and a variety of enhancements to the backside including paving and planting of trees between barns.

“The PTHA is excited by the changes to our live racing schedule and the creation of a signature racing meet during the fall at Parx that will attract some of the top national and regional horses and talent,” said Salvatore M. DeBunda, President of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. “Doubling purses will improve the competitiveness and caliber of our racing product, make the races more exciting, and increase fan and bettor interest.”

  • Alex

    More cutting of racing days. Likely the best thing. Nothing seems to grow and expand any more in this country except for the government.

  • Until their takeout rates are significantly lowered (Daily Double, Exacta: 20%; Pick 3: 26%; Trifecta, Superfecta: 30%), there really is no reason to wager on Parx racing no matter how good the Stakes are. They obviously have the money to card these big events, but I guess when they have slot money pouring in they have no reason to give the horseplayer a break.

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    • Tinky

      Absolutely correct. And flipping the bird to their core customers will, sooner or later, come back to haunt them.

  • Charles Smith

    This signature meet concept sounds familiar, Monmouth tried it, but it failed. This is a tough pill to swallow for the horsemen, but Park is surrounded by major competitors for the casino dollar…Harrah’s in nearby Chester, PA, what’s left of Atlantic City, the AQU casino, the Yonkers Raceway casino. What Parx is doing is like doubling down on 16 in blackjack, they are doubling down on the boutique meeting concept, but it didn’t work for Monmouth. If they want to boost handle, get away from the industry high 30% rake on Trifectas and Supers, unless you play with a rebate shop, the Parx high takeout is for the birds.

    • Keyne

      Parx isn’t really doubling down on anything(I race about 6 or 7 claimers here year round).They really don’t care how many dates,or if there is any reduction or increase in handle.As long as the casino is filled(1,000 s of seniors social security checks have paid for this “festival”),NO ONE in management cares about racing.Big names in horse racing mean more people will come out and inevitably make their way next door to the casino.
      Could you imagine ANY other business that couldn’t care less if revenue increased or decreased?The racino/socialism of racing is kinda perverse(yes,Im kind of a hypocrite because I race there,and am a beneficiary,but my family has raced in Bensalem loooong before racinos,and will be there looong after theyre gone)….

  • maymac

    As a owner/trainer in pennsylvania who runs horses at philly I’m happy to hear about this. There were rumors but personally did not think this was going to happen. I’m excited to see the improvements and the bigger purses this summer.

  • we’re watching

    This reduction in dates is a very bad idea. It means a reduction on racing, and it does not benefit anyone. It’s merely a further contraction of the sport. Pretty soon these “festivals” will be whittled down further until nothing is left. And reduction to takeout is the only way to benefit the bettors of horse racing monetarily. Bad idea, next coersion with Nth Del Park, etc to further reduce the sport. When sports betting hits NJ, they will totaly ignore racing in NJ, not expand it.

  • kuzdal

    If my goal was to enhance my bonuses, I’d certainly be an advocate of these better racing cards, racing festivals and such.As long as you don’t care about the long term prospects of this game, I guess any action is laudable. Then again….

    I’d prefer to see the promotion of any/all tracks progression that leads to a Grade I race. It doesn’t matter where you start, does it? Imagine your local paper giving some space to the first MSW race of the year. Yes, we have a Triple Crown winner. Now. But how soon will he be forgotten?

    I think that managements’ key metrics, whether it’s at Parx or NYRA, point toward the single “big day”, not a prolonged positive business trend.

  • Concerned Observer

    The casino agreed to a subsidy for racing in order to get the casino license.

    But race days involve a lot of personnel and overhead expenses.

    This is a simple profit concept. Dump the race subsidy money as quickly as possible (big purses for stakes races), and then shut down the live racing on the track as much as possible to cut operating costs= more casino profit.

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