10/05/2015 2:48PM

Fall Festival purses lowered in response to quarantine

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In response to the equine herpesvirus quarantine that will be in place until at least Oct. 29 at Parx Racing, purses are being lowered at the track’s inaugural Fall Festival while the duration of the festival is being extended.

Purses for the festival, which began Aug. 29, had been doubled from approximately $250,000 to $500,000 per day. Parx management and the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association have agreed that beginning Sunday, purses will be reduced to $300,000 per day.

While the festival was scheduled to conclude Oct. 20, the new purse structure will remain in place for the remainder of the Parx meet, which runs through Dec. 22.

“Part of the reason to have the festival was to attract top horses from out of state,” said Sam Elliott, director of racing at Parx. “Not only will the quarantine restrict our ability to do that, but since horses shipping in will have to stay here, we’re going to run out of backstretch space, and we will lose our ability to accommodate them.”

The increased purse money for the festival is the result of an agreement between Parx management and the PTHA to reduce racing dates. Parx closed for two weeks in August and will not race between Dec. 22, 2015, and Feb. 13, 2016. The purse money saved from the reduced schedule was funneled to the festival.

“By extending the enhanced purse structure from Oct 20. to Dec. 22, we will give our local horsemen more opportunities to race at the higher level,” Elliott said.