Parx Racing Cancels Prestigious Races Due to COVID-19
In a disappointing announcement, Parx Racing in Pennsylvania revealed that it has canceled two of its most prestigious races, the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby and the Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes. These cancellations, along with others including the Turf Amazon Stakes, the Parx Dirt Mile, and the Grade 2 Gallant Bob Stakes, are a direct result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Both the Pennsylvania Derby and the Cotillion Stakes were scheduled to take place on September 26, and the cancellation comes as a blow to horse racing enthusiasts who look forward to these high-stakes races each year. Racing secretary David Osojnak explained that the decision to cancel all open stakes races for this season was necessary due to the impact of the virus.
Impact of the Pandemic on the Pennsylvania Derby
The Pennsylvania Derby, known for attracting top-notch 3-year-olds, usually takes place in mid-September, positioning it between other prominent races such as the Kentucky Derby, the Breeders’ Cup, and events at Del Mar and Saratoga. The race has seen the likes of Kentucky Derby champions and other notable winners in recent years, increasing its prestige and drawing a strong field of contenders.
However, the rescheduling of major races in 2020, including the Kentucky Derby on September 5 and the Preakness on October 3, directly affected the racing calendar and led to the unfortunate cancellation of the Pennsylvania Derby. Osojnak clarified that the tight scheduling made it financially and logistically impractical to hold the race, given its proximity to the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.
The Pennsylvania Derby has been graced by notable horses, with champions such as McKinzie, West Coast, and Bayern securing victories. Even last year, the race witnessed an unexpected upset when 31/1 long shot Math Wizard emerged victorious, leaving fans in awe. The absence of the race this year is a disappointment to both fans and participants.
Parx Racing and the Impact of Casino Closures
Parx Racing faced another setback that directly affected its ability to host these high-stakes races. The closure of the on-track casino for over three months due to the pandemic significantly impacted purse sizes. Although the casino reopened at 50% capacity on June 29, the reduced revenue from the closure necessitated adjustments in purse distribution.
Osojnak made the decision to use the budget allocated for stakes races to maintain stable purse sizes for overnight races. While the purses may not be as lucrative as in previous years, the goal is to ensure that the track remains financially stable during these challenging times. Osojnak expressed optimism that if the casino revenue improves, purse sizes can be restored to their previous levels.
This strategic approach to managing purse distribution mirrors the actions taken by the New York Racing Association, which redirected funds from stakes events to support everyday races during Belmont Park’s postponed spring/summer meet. This temporary adjustment aims to maintain a functioning racing industry and support all levels of competition.
Future Plans for Parx Racing
Despite the cancellation of major stakes races, Parx Racing has plans to continue hosting races for Pennsylvania-bred horses. Five stakes races for local breeds are scheduled to take place on September 7, providing an opportunity for local talent to shine on the track.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted horse racing schedules across the globe, the industry is resilient. Parx Racing is confident that it will bounce back stronger in 2021, ready to welcome racing enthusiasts and participants once again. As the world navigates these uncertain times, the excitement and thrill of horse racing will continue to captivate audiences, even if adjustments need to be made along the way.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Will the Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion Stakes be rescheduled for a later date?
No, unfortunately, the cancellation of the Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion Stakes for this year is final. The races were deemed impractical to reschedule due to the tight racing calendar and logistical constraints.
2. How will the cancellation of major races affect the local horse racing industry?
The cancellation of major races has undoubtedly impacted the local horse racing industry. It not only disappoints fans and participants but also poses financial challenges for tracks like Parx Racing. However, the industry remains resilient, and the focus now shifts to supporting local races and maintaining stability during these challenging times.
3. Will the purse sizes for overnight races be affected by the reallocation of funds from stakes events?
While the purse sizes for overnight races may not be as lavish as in previous years, the goal is to maintain stable purse levels. By reallocating funds from stakes events, Parx Racing aims to ensure that all races continue to offer attractive prize money to participants and maintain a competitive racing environment.
4. Are there any alternative racing options for 3-year-olds in the absence of the Pennsylvania Derby?
Unfortunately, with the cancellation of the Pennsylvania Derby, 3-year-olds seeking high-stakes races will need to explore other racing opportunities. The Kentucky Derby on September 5 and the Preakness on October 3 are among the notable races for this age group, offering a chance to showcase their skills on national platforms.
5. How can horse racing enthusiasts support the industry during these challenging times?
There are several ways horse racing enthusiasts can support the industry during these challenging times. One way is to continue engaging with the sport through virtual platforms, such as online streaming of races and participating in virtual betting. Additionally, supporting local tracks and horsemen by attending races when it is safe to do so and following social media accounts of racing organizations helps to generate interest and maintain a sense of community within the industry.