Philadelphia Park Racetrack
Originally called Keystone Racetrack, it opened in November 1974 in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, it replaced 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, 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.
Late in 1998, Greenwood joined with fellow Pennsylvania corporation, Penn National Gaming, Inc., in expanding into New Jersey with the purchase of Freehold Raceway in Freehold Borough, New Jersey and the operating lease of Garden State Park in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The new partnership, called Pennwood, was expected to pursue off-track and account wagering in the Garden State. Garden State Park closed in 2002, and was razed shortly thereafter.
Philadelphia Park is the home of Pennsylvania's premier thoroughbred race, the $1 million (as of 2010) Grade II Pennsylvania Derby. Held on Labor Day until 2010 when the race will be moved to the last Saturday in September, making 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, the Pennsylvania Derby 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 will now be extended into a two-weekend event that will feature the annual Owners and Pennsylvania Day at the Races the Saturday before Labor Day, and a new $500,000 preliminary event on Labor Day named the Smarty Jones. The race was not run in 2006 because of the rebuilding of the main grandstand as a "racino". The main grandstand lower floor is being reconstructed into a horse racing facility following the opening of the Parx casino.
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 also had the chance to call a handfull 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.
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.
On September 27, 2006, the racetrack was awarded a conditional slots license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, allowing construction to begin on the casino. Final approval of a permanent license came on December 20, 2006, the following day the casino opened. Bally's was chosen as the casino management system. The name of the casino -"Parx" - a modified spelling of the racetrack name - was unveiled following a fireworks display on July 4, 2009.
The plan for the 430-acre (1.7 km2) site:
- Phase 1: Renovation of the Grandstand, building of the Parx Casino & Parking Garage. (Complete; opened December 18, 2009)
- Last Phase: Renovation of paddock. (Opening: In-Time for Kentucky Derby in May 2010)
So far, Philadelphia Park has 3,300 slot machines. Electronic table games, such as roulette, blackjack, and poker, are also available.
On December 18, 2009, the Parx Casino opened, with 3,300 slot machines.
Parx Casino currently has the following dining and entertainment venues:
- Parx Grille
- Club 360
- Chickie's and Pete's (March 2010)
The Players Club consists of three levels: Players Club, Premium, and Elite.
The track has a 1 mile (1.6 km) dirt oval and a 7 furlong - 0.875 miles (1.408 km) - turf oval.
The following stakes are run at Philadelphia Park:
- Smarty Jones Stakes
- My Juliet Stakes
- Jostle Stakes
- Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap
- Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap
- Greenwood Park Cup
- Ambassador of Luck Handicap
- Captain My Captain Handicap
- Devil's Honor Handicap
- Mr. Jenney Handicap
- Mrs. Penny Stakes
- Northern Fling Handicap
- Peppy Addy Stakes
- Smarty Jones Classic Stakes
- Turf Monster Handicap
- PTHA President's Cup
- Turf Amazon Handicap
- Gallant Bob Handicap
- ↑ "Bally Technologies Signs Deal With Philadelphia Park & Parx Casino". Casino City Times. August 16, 2006. http://www.casinocitytimes.com/news/article.cfm?contentID=160446. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
- ↑ Parmley, Suzette (2009-12-18). "BREAKING NEWS: Parx Casino opens doors in Bensalem". Philadelphia Inquirer. http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20091218_New_casino_facility_opens_in_Bensalem.html. Retrieved 2009-12-18.
- List of casinos in Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board