Presque Isle Adds Barns for Upcoming Meet
Photo: Coady Photography
Presque Isle Downs

Presque Isle Downs & Casino now has 668 stalls after building two 48-stall barns in advance of its 2012 meet, officials said April 17.

The track, located south of Erie, Pa., has talked about adding new barns for several years.

“We are happy that we can accommodate more horses now,” Presque Isle vice president and general manager Mike Tamburelli said in a statement released by parent company MTR Gaming Group. “We hope the fields will be larger, but more importantly to us is that we will continue to attract national-level competition.”

Presque Isle opened Sept. 1, 2007, three years after slot machines were authorized at racetracks and non-track casinos in Pennsylvania. The facility, which has a synthetic Tapeta main racing surface, races about 100 days a year.

This year’s meet is scheduled for May 15-Sept. 29.

After its initial one-month meet in 2007, Presque Isle has gradually increased field size, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems. In 2008, for 101 racing programs, field size averaged 7.10 horses per race despite average daily purses of $221,357.

In 2009 field size averaged 7.73 horses per race with $194,179 in average daily purses, and in 2010 the figure was 7.93 with $186,737 a day paid in purses, according to TJCIS. Last year field size averaged 8.26 horses per race, and average daily purses rebounded to $224,964.

The meet’s marquee race, the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes for filly and mare sprinters, has produced three Breeders’ Cup winners: Musical Romance, Informed Decision, and Dubai Majesty. Track officials said they hope to build on that success.

The new barns cost $1.3 million. The total number of 668 includes a 48-stall receiving barn and a 24-stall stakes barn.

After multiple changes since last year, Presque Isle settled on a Tuesday-through-Saturday schedule with first post time at 5:25 p.m. EDT. Management planned to replace Saturdays with Mondays but met with local pressure to continue racing on Saturdays, which draws the largest crowds. Saturday post time had been 3 p.m.

The apron area was upgraded last year, and this year there will be a family picnic area.

There is no hotel at the racetrack casino. But earlier in April MTR, Gaming Group said it entered into an agreement with BT Management to manage and operate a Baymont Inn and Suites adjacent to Presque Isle. BT Management has a franchise deal with Wyndam Hotel Group.

MTR Gaming Group officials said the hotel will have 100 rooms and suites and is scheduled to open in spring 2013. Company president and chief executive officer Jeffrey Dahl said the hotel “will enhance the Presque Isle Downs & Casino experience as well as provide the potential to drive additional visitation to the Erie region.”

The company’s other Thoroughbred track, Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in neighboring West Virginia, has a hotel on its property.

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