Parx Racing (Bensalem, PA)
(Racing Days: 07/01/2019 - 07/01/2020)
Parx Casino and Racing (formerly Philadelphia Park Racetrack and Casino) is a thoroughbred horse racing venue and the largest casino gaming complex in Pennsylvania. Parx is located in Bensalem Township in Bucks County, northeast of the city of Philadelphia.
Owned and operated by Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc., Parx features 24-hour gaming: over 3,200 slot machines, 188 live table games, a poker room with 48 poker tables, live racing and simulcast action, sports betting, several dining options and bars, and the Xcite Center. Parx also offers online gambling and online sports betting along with off-track betting at two locations.
Originally called Keystone Racetrack, it opened in November 1974 in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, replacing the Liberty Bell Park Racetrack as the area's Thoroughbred track. When the track was purchased in 1984 by ITB, the racetrack received a new name, Philadelphia Park, a new turf course, and an innovative new way to wager called Phonebet.
In December 1990, the racetrack again changed hands when Greenwood Racing, Inc. (a corporation founded in 1989 by British bookmaking veterans Bob Green and Bill Hogwood) purchased the oval from ITB. Full card simulcasting was added, as well as six off-track locations called Turf Clubs, allowing race fans to watch and wager seven days a week.
On August 30, the track was rechristened as Parx Racing and Casino.
Over the years, such notable horses as Shuvee, My Juliet, Spectacular Bid, Revidere, Summer Squall, and Broad Brush found their way to the winner's circle at Parx Racing and Casino. The track became famous as the original home of 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes champion Smarty Jones, who placed second in the Belmont Stakes, narrowly missing the Triple Crown.
In November 2014, it was revealed that Parx was requiring jockeys to sign a waiver as a condition of riding there. It is believed that the waiver stemmed from a court judgement against Parx in favor of the family of Mario Calderon, an exercise rider who suffered fatal injuries in an incident on the Parx backstretch in 2010.
The judgement required Parx to pay Calderon's family $7.8 million in damages. The Jockeys' Guild said that the waiver contained language "inconsistent with the laws of Pennsylvania" and it would instruct its members against signing it.
In 2017, Parx hosted the fourth annual Jockeys and Jeans fundraiser for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. The fundraiser has raised more than $650,000 with the goal of raising $200,000 in 2017. The event was previously held in Tampa Bay Downs, Indiana Grand and Gulfstream Park.
On March 19, 2018, a major accident occurred during the 9th race, in which hall of fame jockey Jose Flores was sent to a hospital following the incident. It was announced that he would be placed on life support a day later. The horse however had to undergo animal euthanasia. Flores was pronounced dead on March 22, 2018 at 12:42 pm.
Parx Racing and Casino is the home of Pennsylvania's two premier Thoroughbred races, the $1 million (as of 2019) Grade I Pennsylvania Derby and the $1 Million Grade I Fitz Eugene Dixon Cotillion Handicap.
The Pennsylvania Derby (which first served as a Memorial Day replacement for the Jersey Derby after the original grandstand at Garden State Park was destroyed by a fire in 1977), was held on Labor Day until 2010 when the race was moved to the last Saturday in September. This brought it closer to the Breeders' Cup World Championships.
The Pennsylvania Derby is a 1.125 miles (1.811 km) (nine furlongs) race for three-year-olds that has consistently attracted quality fields and large crowds. Over the past few years, it has evolved into a three-day festival that lasts all of Labor Day weekend at the racetrack, culminating with the running of the Derby.
The festival has now become a month-long event that features the annual "Owners and Pennsylvania Day at the Races" the Saturday after Labor Day, and a new US $300,000 preliminary event on Labor Day named the "Smarty Jones." (This race was not run in 2006 because of the rebuilding of the main grandstand as a "racino".)
The Cotillion, which has been run since Thoroughbred racing began in Pennsylvania in 1969 at the old Liberty Bell Park in Northeast Philadelphia, is a 1.0625 miles (1.7099 km) (Eight and a half furlong) race. It is held (as of 2010) on the first Saturday in October as part of a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer charity with races featuring female jockeys called "Parx Racing Ladies Day at the Races"
The main grandstand's lower floor was reconstructed back into a horse racing facility in September 2010.
The track's announcer is Keith Jones. Mr. Jones began his announcing career at Garden State Park as an assistant in the summer of 1985. He took over the full-time duties at Philadelphia Park in 1987. He also spent 13 years as the public address announcer for the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League and has had the chance to call a handful of games for the parent club, the Philadelphia Flyers.
In addition, Mr. Jones serves as host of the TV program, "Let's Go Racing," a 30-minute show featuring highlights of local racing and major, national stakes. He is a member of the track's Hall of Fame, inducted with the inaugural class in September 2011.
The Pennsylvania State Fair was held at the racetrack annually from 1987 to 2006. In 2002, the track hosted the Claiming Crown of horse racing.
The movie Safe, starring Jason Statham was filmed at Parx Racing and Casino.
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