For Pennsylvania horse racing fans, this is the ultimate exacta. Synergy between Parks casino and his horse racing organization built Saturday’s record-breaking exhibition.
Parx Racingbacked by play money from the casino on the site, offers more than $4.1 million in purseseclipsing the entire thoroughbred horse racing industry.
Parx deploys two $1 million stakes events in Catillion and Pennsylvania Derby.
Blockbuster undercard for 2022 Pennsylvania Derby consists of races that would be headliners on any other day. It’s a mini-Breeders Cup with an impact far beyond mere numbers.
It’s also a mood. On Saturday, Parx is the heartbeat of horse racing.
Pennsylvania gamblers, live or online Online betting on TVG horsesto see the fruits of the gaming and sports dynamic that supports both industries.
Parks’ head saw it come together
Parx Racing COO Joe Wilson started working here in 1982. His various promotions led him to the position he has held for nearly a quarter of a century.
In 2022 — some 40 years after the launch of the Parx association — he is considering a race-casino partnership. Wilson has seen it go from concept to legislation, then construction, and finally two family components over the years.
Ultimately, his track will be able to access casino revenues, a strategy that has saved several establishments, including nearby Delaware Park outside of Wilmington, De.
When Parx Racing wanted to take a step forward, it could rely on the casino, which has 24-hour gaming, more than 3,000 slot machines and a variety of table games, poker, sports betting, restaurants and bars.
A portion of the revenue from the slot machines was earmarked for a horse development fund. And the magic followed.
Money was on hand when the track made a monumental decision that changed the course of the 2010 Pennsylvania Derby.
Parx COO Joe Wilson on the big move to the Pennsylvania Derby
“I couldn’t be more excited about what we did,” Wilson said Play in Pennsylvania. “The Pennsylvania Derby was held on Labor Day. It was closing day at Saratoga and at Del Mar, and it was shortly after the Travers” (the latter being a race at Saratoga with a similar pedigree to the Pennsylvania Derby). “We never found a place for our race.”
“So we moved it, and once we did, a lot changed. We created the Smarty Jones Stakes and ran it on Labor Day. We also held a Cotillion in October. We then decided to combine the Cotillion, Pennsylvania Derby and other races to create one big day at the end of September.
“The timing for this race is now perfect for us and for the riders. We have a great day and the jumpers get a good finish in the Breeders’ Cup. Many Pennsylvania Derby horses are sent from here and compete in the Breeders’ Cup. (Bavaria won the PA Derby in 2014 and the Breeders’ Cup Classic the same year).”
Bavaria not only install Pennsylvania Derby record 1:46.96 that year, but he won the Kentucky Derby California chrome.
On Saturday, Parx Racing showcases the top 3-year-old thoroughbreds of the year
This year there is a similar excitement. No less than six Kentucky Derby graduates are gathering in wide open. They took turns beating each other. And on Saturday, they are holding one of the last two events determine the title of the best horse of the year. The second one is at the Breeders’ Cup in November.
“There’s a lot here for bettors because the five majors leading up to it have produced five different winners,” Wilson said, referring to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes, Haskell and Travers.
All five of these races are represented by different competitors in the field. This cream of the 3-year harvest.
And that’s just the main event.
At the expense of holding major races, the track brought huge profits. His pen was approximately 14 million dollars for this card last year in that term income from all sources. This means that all mobile bets, simulcast bets and live bets have been collected into one number.
The total is impressive and will be contested on Saturday.
The Pennsylvania Derby card brings prestige, race day offers entertainment for all
Wilson knows the tracks have benefited from putting their main events on the same card. The program represents prestige and attracts bettors.
But it doesn’t have to be expensive if the track is simply redistributing predetermined wallet costs.
“The first thing to consider is the fact that you’re going to spend that money on purses throughout the meeting,” he said, “so why not put it all together and make it a day to remember?
“What makes me so happy is that the Pennsylvania Derby card is not just for the big boys like the Bob Bafferts of the racing world.”
(A Hall of Fame coach is looking an unprecedented 4th PA Derby p 5-2 favorite Taiba).
“Everybody gets something out of it. We expect to have 10,000 people here, many of whom have never been to a race track before. There is everything that is for children. People will come out and just have fun.”
Prospective customers will be cultivated for both the racetrack and the casino.
The horse racing industry is making strides with the online betting revolution
The tracks also got the latest dynamics, online betting on horses. It has as monumental an impact on racing as the Internet had on the business world when it was first introduced.
Wilson said that during the height of Covid, mobile betting was producing approx 75% handle rates. In many cases, tracks had no choice but to offer distance betting. Covid-19 restrictions prevented them from letting in spectators.
Now this live racing is backmore customers are comfortable using mobile apps even when on-site.
Reviving horse racing and crossing it with a program that also connects gamblers betting on sports booksalso returns to a complex industry problem.
Customers complain loudly about the excessive takeout percentage. Exotic rates in many places are closer to 25%, much more than the 10% they would pay for a sports bet.
“Now we all know people can bet on the Phillies or the Eagles or anyone else in the sports world and see the comparison,” Wilson said. “I don’t know what the answer is. Now that they’ve tried fixed odds in New Jersey, I think it’s going to be a big help to players as it becomes more common.”
Wilson said Parks has adapted to the market, reduces Win-Place-Show rate to 17% (which is reasonable) and his Philly Big 5 up to 15% (which is good) trying to compete.
Horse bettors get an extra incentive on Saturday
The track begins its program with a $102,129 carryover for pick 5 and there is a mandatory payment. Several hundred thousand dollars will be added to this amount when last year’s pool of $900,000 from the $150,000 transition is any indication.
Punters will get another benefit with a local twist.
B Dauka long shot in the Pennsylvania Derby, called no other way Philadelphia Eagles Safety Hall of Fame Brian Dawkins.
According to Wilson, Dawkins will be present on Saturday, saying “Riders Up” on the field just before the big race.
Eagles flashback. This is another example of the resonance of the day.
The house will rock.
Pennsylvania generally, and Bensalem in particular, there is much to be proud of.
Main image: AP Photo/Alex Brandon