Live Racing Returns to Penn National

Racing returns to Penn National Oct. 31.

Live racing returns Oct. 31 at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course after the racing track was closed in September amid alleged surface issues.

The track, which traditionally races year-round, was closed Sept. 21 when work began on a project to put down a new racing surface. Horsemen at the time claimed the surface condition contributed to an increased number of catastrophic breakdowns, a charge track officials disputed, saying a planned renovation for 2009 was simply moved up in schedule.

The work was completed late last weekend and local training began on Oct. 27, the track reported in a news release. Nine races are scheduled for the Oct. 31 card, which has a first post-time of 6:45 p.m., EDT. Live racing is scheduled to run five nights a week, Tuesday through Sunday, for the remainder of the year, the release said.

Trainer Tim Ritchey, a perennial leader at Delaware Park, and conditioner of 2005 Preakness (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Afleet Alex, will saddle 8-5 morning line favorite Bank of Dad in the $17,400 third race. The 3-year old gelding won for a $25,000 claiming tag on August 30 and drops to meet six $10,000 foes.

David Cora heads into the final two months of the 2008 campaign with 101 wins, 14 ahead of William Otero. Stephanie Beattie tops all trainers with 72 winners, two ahead of last year’s leader Murray Rojas.