The 2013 Penn Mile.
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The 2013 Penn Mile.
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Chad B. Harmon

Penn Mile Boosts PNGI 'Big Event' Program

The June 1 program at Penn National generated record total handle of $3.6 million.

The inaugural $500,000 Penn Mile June 1 helped Penn National Gaming Inc. continue a trend of sharp gains in pari-mutuel handle on "big event" programs at the company's racetracks.

All-sources wagering on the 10-race card at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course was a record $3,658,996. The previous high of $2,173,921 was set in December 1998.

On-track betting on the live product June 1 totaled $225,136, the highest handle since the rebuilt racetrack and casino opened in February 2008. Handle on the Penn Mile alone was $1,139,478, the highest one-race figure since Penn National opened in 1972.

"On every possible level, tonight was a huge success," said Dan Silver, director of racing operations at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course. "The racing department here, including racing secretary Dave Bailey, stakes coordinator Craig Lytel, and assistant racing secretary Jenny Bowman, put together the best card in the history of Penn National Race Course, and it was great to see people on track and around the country respond so enthusiastically." 

According to PNGI, the total handle figure for June 1 was up 169.1% from the $200,000 Pennsylvania Governor's Cup program in July 2012. The Governor's Cup, worth $150,000 this year, was part of the Penn Mile program. On-track handle year over year increased 80.4%, PNGI said.

Wagering on this year's Charles Town Classic (gr. II) program at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races was up 28.1% in total and 24.4% on track when compared with the same program in 2012, according to PNGI statistics. In January of this year, the new $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic program at Sam Houston Race Park helped drive handle increases of 54.3% in total and 48.5% on track when compared with the 2012 card that featured only the grade III John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes.

"The Penn Mile night was tremendous," said Chris McErlean, corporate vice president of racing for PNGI. "It is always satisfying when a plan works; Dan Silver and the entire team at Penn National really worked hard and were rewarded with a great night of racing and terrific business results.

"The 'big event nights' at our racing facilities this year  have generated significant year-over-year on- and off-track gains while bringing the best horses and connections to the racing fans at those locations. We want to keep building on those successes."

McErlean said the company's Zia Park Casino in New Mexico will host its first such program in November of this year.