02/20/2008 12:00AM

Penn National hikes statebred stakes


Although the full stakes schedule for 2008 has yet to be finalized, a preview of what Penn National Race Course intends to offer for Pennsylvania-bred and -sired horses is available at the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association's website (www.pabred.com).

The tentative lineup includes 11 stakes, all worth $75,000, a significant increase from the typical $40,000 purses that statebreds competed for in the past.

The highlight is a four-stakes package of new stakes, all for Pennsylvania-sired horses, on May 30. There will be two stakes for sprinters going six furlongs, the Roanoke for males and the Power by Far for fillies and mares, plus two added-money races at 1 1/16 miles, the Nepal for males and the Robellino for fillies and mares.

There's also a stakes doubleheader on turf tentatively scheduled for July 18: the one-mile Lyphard for 3-year-olds and the one-mile Dear Jane for 3-year-old fillies.

Overnight purses, which averaged roughly $65,000 in February 2007, are now at $110,000 for the first condition book of 2008. Purses are expected to increase dramatically again sometime this summer after the repayment of about $8 million that management fronted to horsemen while the new Hollywood Casino was under construction.

Rob Marella, Penn's director of racing, said he also expects to gradually phase out races for $2,500 claimers until the bottom price on most cards becomes $4,000.

* Wagering on the first three nights of Penn National's reopening averaged $877,497, according to Equibase figures, topped by last Thursday's program, in which $967,487 was bet on nine races. Those numbers are off almost 25 percent from three comparable cards Penn National conducted following a string of cancellations in late February a year ago. Handle for the three programs on Feb. 27 and 28 and March 1, 2007, all exceeded $1 million and averaged $1,166,793, according to Equibase.

* A few lucky longshot players cashed in at juicy prices in last Friday's ninth race when 50-1 Restless Mind ($102.40), ridden by Pedro Rodriguez for trainer Sam Keyouze, defeated the appropriately named 63-1 shot Bombs Away by 2 1/2 lengths in a conditioned $4,000 claiming sprint. The $2 exacta paid $3,438.40. Those two, combined with third-place finisher Bruce's Luck at 20-1, produced a $2 trifecta worth $12,251.80.