12/12/2013 5:39PM

Penn National will package six stakes into two event nights for 2014


Penn National Race Course will slightly alter its stakes schedule for 2014, presenting six stakes packaged into two major event nights of racing. Collectively, the half-dozen added-money events for open company are worth $1.25 million, a reduction of $250,000 and one stakes from 2013.

The second running of the $500,000 Penn Mile, for 3-year-olds going a mile on turf, headlines a card on Saturday, May 31 that will also feature the $200,000 Mountainview Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, and the $150,000 Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup at five furlongs on turf. A new event, the  $100,000 Penn Oaks for 3-year-old fillies going a mile on grass, completes the Memorial Day weekend stakes program.

“We feel that some of the same trainers with 3-year-old colts for the Penn Mile may also have 3-year-old fillies they could bring for the Penn Oaks. It will be a real turf festival,” said Dan Silver, Penn National’s director of racing.

As was the case this year, the Penn Mile will take place a week before the Belmont Stakes on June 7. It is positioned two weeks after a similar one-mile race for 3-year-old turf runners, the $100,000 James Murphy, on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico and four weeks following the Grade 2 American Turf at 1 1/16 miles on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs.

Penn National’s remaining two stakes for open company, the $200,000 Fabulous Strike Handicap for sprinters going six furlongs, and the $100,000 Swatara for route runners going 1 1/16 miles, again be contested on Thanksgiving Eve, which falls on Nov. 26 in 2014.

The Fabulous Strike, Mountainview Handicap, and Swatara took purse cuts of $50,000 apiece. Eliminated from the schedule are the $50,000 Penn Dash for main-track sprinters and the $150,000 Lady In Waiting, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares.

The list of stakes for Pennsylvania-bred runners will be announced later.

Penn National also announced that it will race 200 days in 2014. From January through April, live racing will be conducted four days a week, Wednesday through Saturday. In May and the first week of June, live racing will be conducted three days a week (Thursday to Saturday), and from the second week in June through the end of the year, racing will generally be conducted four days a week (Wednesday to Saturday).