Thoroughbred Racing Returns To Penn National, But Presque Isle Stuck In The Gate

Written By Kevin Shelly on June 18, 2020 - Last Updated on October 17, 2022
PA racing returns but Presque Isle appears to be last

Horse racing in Pennsylvania will finally return to a gallop over the next few days after more than three months of state-enforced shutdowns.

First thoroughbred race since shutdowns, plus Belmont betting

On Friday, the first thoroughbred race in the Commonwealth goes off at Penn National Racetrack.

And while spectators are not allowed at any PA races for now, there should be a view from the simulcast facility at the adjoining Hollywood Casino, which is also reopening on the same day.

The Friday track opening is timed to catch parimutuel wagers on the kiosks at Hollywood on Saturday for what is now the first leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. The New York state race is usually the last leg of the esteemed series. Tiz the Law is the early favorite to win.

Online horse betting for the entire Belmont card of 12 races is also available in Pennsylvania at PABets (TVG) and FanDuel Racing.

Harness tracks renew racing

This Saturday, 14 harness races are on tap as The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono returns to racing. The harness track at The Meadows ran the first PA races since the virus-caused hiatus on June 15.

Also on Sunday, Harrah’s Philadelphia Racetrack resumes harness racing, according to its horsemen’s group.

That leaves two thoroughbred tracks, Parx and Presque Isle

On Monday, June 22, another thoroughbred track is expected to reopen, this time Parx Racetrack in the Philly suburb of Bensalem.

Only one track, Presque Isle Downs, remains an enigma, with no announced start date. The thoroughbred track’s county is still in the yellow phase, despite every PA county around it being green.

Although racing is cleared by the state to restart at all tracks, Presque Isle plans to reopen the casino and track together once the county moves to green, reports.

Presque Isle’s parent owner, Churchill Downs, has not responded to requests for comment from PlayPennsylvania, nor has a local track official. Horsemen expect the track to reopen in July.

When will PA tracks reopen?

All tracks must follow protocols set by PA health officials.

The timetable for race resumptions by track:

PA Race TrackCounty & Color PhaseRacing Resumption Date
Meadow's Racetrack (Harness)Washington (Green)June 15
Penn National Racecourse (Thoroughbred)Dauphin (Green)June 19
Mohegan Sun Pocono (Harness)Luzerne (Yellow)June 20
Harrah's Philadelphia (Harness)Delaware (Yellow)June 21
Parx Racing (Thoroughbred)Bucks (Yellow)June 22
Presque Isle Downs (Thoroughbred)Erie (Yellow)Tentatively July 20

For now, no spectators are allowed at tracks, and precautions such as masks, social distancing, health screenings and capacity limitations will prevail at all of the tracks’ associated casinos. Following are reopening plans for each individual PA track.

When will The Meadows Racetrack reopen?

The harness track in the southwest corner of the state resumed racing on June 15.

Races are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, all with 12:45 p.m. start times.

When will Penn National Racetrack reopen?

Penn will be the first thoroughbred track to resume racing when it restarts on June 19. There are 93 entries for the nine-race card, which features a pair of turf sprints.

Live racing is initially set for Wednesdays and Fridays, with the first post at 6 p.m. An expanded racing schedule is possible based on horse supply and available purse revenues beyond July.

Simulcast wagering and viewing is available on the third floor of the casino. Capacity is limited.

When will The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono reopen?

Racing resumes June 20 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The first of 14 harness races posts at 12:30 p.m.

Pocono’s racing schedule is Saturday, Monday and Tuesday at 12:30 p.m., with the Sunday card beginning at 7 p.m.

When will Harrah’s Philadelphia Racetrack reopen?

Harness racing resumes June 21 at Harrah’s Philadelphia in Chester, a suburb of Philly.

The schedule is Wednesday through Friday, and Sunday at 12:40 p.m.

When will Parx Racing reopen?

Thoroughbred racing at Parx begins again on June 22, according to horsemen, with a post of 12:50 p,m.

However, the company has not posted additional public information about the schedule for the track in Bucks County.

When will Presque Isle Downs reopen?

The horsemen’s group floated a tentative start date of July 6, but there’s been no follow-up. Online racing community sites are pointing the finger at Churchill Downs, the owner.

According to, Presque Isle Downs’ director of racing, Matt Ennis, says that the track cannot reopen without the casino because purse money for races depends on slot revenue.

Officials have not answered PlayPA‘s requests for comment.

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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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