Parx Casino and Racing
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|Parx Casino and Racing|
|Location||Bensalem, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia area)|
|Address||2999 Street Road
Bensalem, PA 19020
|Opening date||Racetrack: 1974
parx: December 18, 2009
|Notable restaurants||Chickie's & Pete's|
|Owner||Greenwood Racing, Inc.|
|Previous names||Keystone Racetrack (1974-1984)
Philadelphia Park (1984-2010)
Parx Casino and Racing (formerly Philadelphia Park Racetrack and Casino) is a horse racing venue and the largest casino gaming complex in Pennsylvania. Owned and operated by Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc., Parx features 24-hour gaming: 3,500 slot machines, 140 live table games, a poker room with 60 poker tables, live racing and simulcast action, and several dining options and bars.
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.
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. Simulcasting on cable broadcasting systems (notably those owned by Comcast) was discontinued in March 2010, and shortly replaced by Comcast with TVG Network, who later joined with Harrah's Chester to bring their own simulcasting betting accounts in October 2010.
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.
Pennsylvania Derby and Fitz Dixon Cotillion
Parx Racing and Casino is the home of Pennsylvania's two premier Thoroughbred races, the US $1 million (as of 2010) Grade II Pennsylvania Derby and the US $500,000 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.
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, and 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 (170 ha) site:
- Phase 1: Renovation of the Grandstand, building of the Parx Casino & Parking Garage. (Complete; opened December 18, 2009)
- Last Phase: Renovation of paddock. (Complete; opened in May 2010)
So far, Parx has 3,300 slot machines. Electronic table games, such as roulette, blackjack, and poker, are also available. On December 18, 2009, the casino building opened, with 3,300 slot machines. On July 18, 2010, the casino began operating table games.
Parx Racetrack and Casino currently has the following dining and entertainment venues:
- Parx Grille
- Club 360
- Chickie's & Pete's (Grand Opening: July 28, 2010)
Parx East, featuring card games, held its ribbon cutting ceremony on December 22, 2010. Parx East is the new name of the grandstand with gambling returning to that building. Gaming is now divided between two buildings on the Parx complex.
The track has a 1 mile (1.6 km) dirt oval and a 7 furlong - .875 miles (1.408 km) - turf oval.
The following stakes are run at Parx Racing and Casino:
- Grade II Pennsylvania Derby (last Saturday in September)
- Grade I Cotillion Handicap (Run on Pennsylvania Derby Day)
- Grade III Smarty Jones Stakes (Labor Day event as of 2010)
- My Juliet Stakes
- Jostle Stakes
- Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap
- Grade III Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap
- Grade III Greenwood Cup Stakes
- Grade III Parx Dash Handicap
- Grade III Turf Monster Handicap
- Ambassador of Luck Handicap
- Captain My Captain Handicap
- Devil's Honor Handicap
- Mr. Jenney Handicap
- Mrs. Penny Stakes
- Northern Fling Handicap
- Peppy Addy Stakes
- PTHA President's Cup
- Turf Amazon Handicap
- Gallant Bob Handicap
- Hegarty, Matt (November 6, 2014). "Parx indemnity waiver draws ire of Jockeys' Guild". drf.com. Daily Racing Form. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
- "Bally Technologies Signs Deal With Philadelphia Park & Parx Casino". Casino City Times. August 16, 2006. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
- Parmley, Suzette (2009-12-18). "BREAKING NEWS: Parx Casino opens doors in Bensalem". Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on December 20, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-18.
- Blood Horse: 2011 Graded Stakes: 13 Fewer Than '10