Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, seeking to add more punch to its open stakes schedule, has added a $500,000 event for 3-year-olds on the turf at one mile in 2013.
The Penn Mile will anchor a "big event" night June 1. Other open stakes on the program are the $250,000 Mountainview Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles, and the $150,000 Pennsylvania Governor's Cup for 3-year-olds and up at five furlongs on grass.
The Mountainview, run for the first time this year with a purse of $175,000, was won by grade I winner Toby's Corner. It was run in late July along with the Governor's Cup, which had been the track's signature race with a $200,000 purse in 2012.
The second major stakes night of 2013 will be Thanksgiving eve, Nov. 27. The program will feature the $250,000 Fabulous Strike Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs; the $150,000 Swatara Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles; and the first edition of the $150,000 Lady in Waiting Stakes for fillies and mares at six furlongs.
The purse for the Fabulous Strike, won this year by Ben's Cat and launched in 2011 as the Six Bits Handicap, is up from $200,000.
"We are extremely excited to offer an opportunity for some of the best 3-year-olds to showcase their ability on our turf course in the inaugural Penn Mile," Dan Silver, director of racing operations at Penn National, said in a release. "It is a good spot on the calendar to offer a premier turf mile race for 3-year-olds."
The June 1 date puts the race the weekend before the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), third leg of the Triple Crown.
The clustering of major stakes continues a pattern at racetracks owned by Penn National Gaming Inc. Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races began the Charles Town Classic (gr. II) four year ago as part of a major April program, while Sam Houston Race Park, 50% owned by PNGI, will offer the first running of the $400,000 Houston Ladies for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 26, 2013, in conjunction with the $200,000 Connally Turf Cup (gr. IIIT).
There will be the usual Pennsylvania-bred stakes at Penn National next year, but that schedule will be released at a later date. Parx Racing and Presque Isle Downs & Casino will also get their allotment of state-bred stakes.