Horsemen at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course are getting a $400,000 “thank you” July 11.
The Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association put together the program, which features nine overnight races with inflated purses. A similar program is scheduled for July 18.
Purses at Penn National are fueled by revenue from slot machines that became operational in the winter of 2008. The July 11 pots are roughly double the usual nightly average.
Entry-level allowance races will go for $60,000 and maiden special weight events for $50,000. The purse for a $5,000 claiming event for non-winners of two races lifetime is $20,000, and the purse for a “name your own claiming price” event at 1 1/2 miles is $40,000.
The featured event on the 10-race card is the previously scheduled $75,000 Ligature Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares.
No race drew fewer than 12 entries. Eight races have also-eligible lists five- and six-horses deep.
The program stemmed from discussions during meetings of Penn National's condition book committee.
“(The program) was designed for those horsemen who have supported our program through the lean times,” Pennsylvania HBPA executive director Todd Mostoller said. “Basically, it was put together as an opportunity for them to have preference of entry and good purses, and to say thank you.”
Penn National is expecting close to 500 people in a tent on the apron that night. The overnight races July 11 are for male horses; races with similar conditions July 18 will be for female horses.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Mostoller said. “We’re really please with the entries we’ve gotten. It might be tweaked (in the future), but it’s certainly something we’ll look to do on an annual basis."