Penn No Longer Purse Bottom-Feeder

Penn National is moving up the ladder when it comes to minimum purse.

In their first 11 months of operation, slot machines at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course produced more than $22.6 million for Thoroughbred purses and breed development. The funds have allowed Penn National to offer a minimum purse that will be higher than that paid by some of its competitors.

For its next condition book, Penn National will set the minimum purse at $10,000 for $5,000 maiden claimers. Neighboring tracks—even those that receive revenue from casino-style gaming—have lower minimum purses. For many years, Penn National was toward the bottom of the heap.

Of the Mid-Atlantic tracks, three now have a lower minimum purse: Laurel Park in Maryland, which is at $8,000; and two West Virginia tracks—Charles Town Races & Slots, at $9,000; and Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort, at $9,100.

Delaware Park, which opens in April, has set its minimum purse at $13,000. At Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack in Pennsylvania, the bottom purse is $15,000.

The slots casino at Penn National opened in February 2008. From that point through January 2009, more than $2.48 billion was pumped into the machines at Penn National, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. That was good for $22.6 million in purses and breeders’ awards.

For fiscal year 2008-09 (July through January thus far), about $13.9 million was produced for horse racing at Penn National. Statewide, six tracks earned$115 million for purses and breed development during that period, according to PGCB figures.

Penn National officials recently announced overnight purses will average about $140,000 in the next condition book. Purses at the track near Harrisburg have more than doubled since the advent of racetrack gaming in Pennsylvania.

The following is a list of tracks in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and Midwest, along with minimum purses:

Track    Minimum purse    Condition

Aqueduct (NY)   $15,000  Maiden claiming $16,000

*Philadelphia Park (PA)  $15,000  Condition claiming $5,000

*Delaware Park (DE)   $13,000  Condition claiming $5,000

*Penn National (PA)   $10,000  Maiden claiming $5,000

*Mountaineer (WV)   $9,100   Maiden claiming $5,000

*Charles Town (WV)   $9,000   Condition claiming $4,000

Laurel Park (MD)   $8,000   Condition claiming $5,000

Turfway Park (KY)   $6,000   Maiden claiming $5,000

Beulah Park (OH)   $3,500   Condition claiming $2,500

*Track has gaming machines