06/03/2013 12:50PM

Penn National has record handle night with Penn Mile

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An effort by Penn National Race Course to draw attention to its racing product paid off Saturday night when the track shattered its handle records for an individual race and an entire card.

Handle on Saturday night’s Penn Mile, a $500,000 turf race Penn inaugurated this year, was $1,139,478, according to the track – far beyond the previous single-race handle record of $377,365 for the 2009 Governor’s Cup, an ungraded race. For the entire 10-race card, handle was $3,658,996, nearly $1.5 million over the previous record for an entire Penn card, set in 1998.

Penn National, which has largely been a backwater track since opening in 1972, created the Penn Mile late last year in the hopes of replicating handle growth at Charles Town in West Virginia, a track that also is owned by Penn National’s parent company, Penn National Gaming Inc. In 2009, Charles Town created the Charles Town Classic with a purse of as much as $1.5 million, and since then, handle at the track has set records nearly every year, in large part because of the contribution of the Classic and its undercard.

The Penn Mile was designed to fill an open spot on the racing calendar for 3-year-old turf horses, according to Dan Silver, the track’s director of racing operations. The race was run at one mile and won by the favorite, Rydilluc, who is considered the division leader.

“We’re not Belmont or Santa Anita, so to get attention nationwide we had to make a splash,” Silver said. “We were looking over the national stakes calendar last year, and there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of races out there that were competing for that 3-year-old turf horse at that time.”

Penn National carded the Penn Mile as its fourth race on the 10-race card, with a post of 7:34 p.m. Eastern, when simulcast players were still zeroed in on West Coast races. Furthermore, as an incentive for horsemen to “fill the van” – a term that refers to shipping another horse on the same two-stall truck – Penn bumped up the purse of the Mountainview Handicap from $175,000 to $250,000 and ran the stakes immediately before the Penn Mile. The Mountainview was run for the first time last year.

Ontrack, Penn National also set a record for handle, with betting of $225,136. That might seem to be a paltry number – average ontrack handle at the Keeneland spring meet this year, for example, was $1.18 million – but Silver said that longtime racing customers told officials on Saturday night that they had “never seen anything like” the Saturday night crowd at the track. Racing customers particularly seemed excited to see top national riders like John Velazquez, Joel Rosario, Javier Castellano, and Edgar Prado compete at the track, Silver said.

“It was something that was really fun and really rewarding,” Silver said.

Gary K More than 1 year ago
Look, anyone who's been to the "races" and then attends "Penn Nat'l" will immediately recognize that the facility is compromised by it's OVERBEARING CASINO ATMOSPHERE, and could NEVER be appreciated as a true Thoroughbred Race Track,..quite honestly, it's a complete, TOTAL JOKE!!! They never built a Grandstand,..only a presumed to be, upscale (2 escalators up) superbox for owners who have since decided that they no longer wish to dish-out the $1,500 to $3,500 for their boxes,..management has since decided to charge "group accomodations" at $20 a pop,..just to sit!!! Furthermore, If Ya wish to view the races from the outdoor apron, accompanied by the "zero ambiance paddock",..well, good luck establishing any view ot the races,..it's been designed at such a "low-level view" that one can't see over the HUGE, HOLLYWOOD TOTE-BOARD,..all any patron (fan) can visably see is the stretch drive! As for the Horses, Jockeys, Trainers and overall connections that the racing office attracted for the this past Saturday's showcase, I say Kudos to them,..well done, but as for "Penn Nat'l" ever being considered for legitimate, Thoroughbred Racing, Fan-Friendly accomodations,..NEVER!!!
michael More than 1 year ago
The Jocks were asleep at governors cup. Wasn't even a race, the one horse tightend td took off like he was on fire. Everyone else just watched him. He wasn't close to the best entered. Disappointing.
Michael Infurna More than 1 year ago
Maybe now they can hire some decent management!!
GARY More than 1 year ago
I get why people are praising Penn National for the card they put together, but until they drop their takeout rates, they will see very little of my money. They take out an incredible 31% on Tri's and 30% on Super's!!!! HANA has them ranked 50th out of 66 tracks in their overall rankings (with several below them being Penn National properties). You can go here http://www.horseplayersassociation.org/hanatrackratingsbyoverallscore2012.html to see the full list.
GARY More than 1 year ago
By the way, those takeouts are the highest of ALL tracks (Parx ties them on the Superfecta takeout)!!!
wolves More than 1 year ago
Well said, Gary....i can't believe 15 rated worse than these takeout bandits
MR More than 1 year ago
Do all these other posters work for Penn?
David More than 1 year ago
No, they just had a good time at Penn National or had a good time wagering on the card. Something the entire industry needs.
David Presloid More than 1 year ago
My family had a great time on Saturday at Penn National.
Philip More than 1 year ago
Great job by Penn National. I put some money through the windows there on Saturday to support the excellent card they put together.
Mike More than 1 year ago
NYRA let this guy Dan Silver slip right out of their hands - FOOLS!
Mike More than 1 year ago
I know the nyra guy would come up with something to get Penn national out in the public eye Mike F
Freddy Reyes Falck More than 1 year ago
I hope they give this race Grade 2 status for next year and then Penn National boosts it to a $1,000,000.
PennNatRick More than 1 year ago
Needs another year in order for the committee to apply a graded status. As for the purse...I think they will go to $750k because of the amount of great 3 year old horses that came and handle they got. I do think they should bump the Governors Cup to $300k