Pony Roundup: Five Horse Racing Tracks In PA Plan to Run Past October

Written By Kevin Shelly on October 20, 2021

The change of season is here but horse racing remains in season in Pennsylvania.

All six Pennsylvania horse racing tracks are still at it:

Presque Isle Downs is the first to go dark, closing out their meet on Oct. 21. They had extended their season after starting later due to virus restrictions.

Some of the other venues run right through December. Parx added six days to its schedule.

Even when it is chilly, betting on horses in Pennsylvania is always available online through TVG and PABets and other options such as FanDuel Racing.

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Pennsylvania Derby a big racing day

Joe Wilson, chief operating officer for Parx Racing, had told racing officials his track handled $13.8 million Sept. 25 when it ran the Pennsylvania Derby before a crowd of more than 10,000. The day’s betting represented a 30% jump from its prior high in 2014.

Hot Rod Charlie won the Pennsylvania Derby and the horse looks to make a run for the Breeders’ Cup at DelMar in early November. He’s 6-1 right now.

But other horses, including Medina Spirit, a horse that dropped out of the PA Derby, have even better odds for now. Medina Spirit and trainer Bob Baffert remain under a lingering cloud due to a drug found in the horse after the Kentucky Derby.

Horse deaths report coming

An internal report about horse deaths is anticipated at the PA Horse Racing Commission Meeting on Oct. 26. The commission report could be delayed until Nov. 30.

The report comes in the wake of a Philadelphia Inquirer story that members of the commission pushed back on. Commissioners said it conflated non-racing deaths with fatalities due to racing. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Sept. 1 that 31 horses had died at Parx during the first six months of the year.

A line from the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf provided to the Inquirer particularly inflamed commission members.

It read:

“The billions of dollars provided to the horse racing industry have not reduced the number of horse deaths at tracks.”

Commissioner Tom Ellis, usually silent during commission meetings, was incensed:

“I was personally offended, and I’m sure other commissioners were offended who have put in so much time to make racing safer, by the statement of the governor’s office.”

Wolf has unsuccessfully attempted for two years to redirect a stream of money – more than $200 million – from land-based slots to support higher education.

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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