The Grade 2 $1.25 million Pennsylvania Derby features the two biggest names from the Triple Crown trail September 24 at Parx as a field of 12 gathers in one of the most intriguing betting races of the year.
Racing at Penn National Keeps Getting Better
Officially known as the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Penn National this year celebrates 41 years of providing central Pennsylvania with great horse racing action. Located in Grantville, PA, in close proximity to both Harrisburgh and Hershey, the track opened on August 30, 1972 with La Grand Jour winning the very first race held on the track. With year-around racing that includes a half-dozen open stake races with more than $1,000,000 in purse money, Penn National has become one of America’s most successful tracks.
First Penn Mile a big success
This year saw the launch of Penn National’s biggest event to date, the inaugural running of the $500,000 Penn Mile on the turf, where Kentucky-bred Rydilluc put his name into the record books with the win. Coming off a fourth-place finish in the Grade I Toyota Bluegrass Stakes, Rydullic went off as the favorite and didn’t disappoint, breaking sharply from the gate and stalking the leader in second place before taking over at the quarter-pole to claim a three-quarter length victory over Charming Kitten. It was his fourth win in six lifetime starts.
Fabulous Strike Stakes honors famous Penn-bred
While Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Smarty Jones may be the most famous Pennsylvania-bred racehorse, Fabulous Strike may not be far behind, and each fall Penn National holds the $250,000 Fabulous Strike Handicap in his honor. A son of Smart Strike, Fabulous Strike went to the gate 28 times over his career and won 15, including the Grade I Vosburgh Stakes, one of five graded stakes victories on his resume. This year’s Fabulous Strike at Penn National is scheduled for November 27, one of four stakes races on that day’s card.
The $1 million Cotillion Stakes September 24 at Parx features a true clash of the titans as the six-horse field is headlined by the undefeated, five-time grade 1 winner Songbird who figures to face the most stern challenge of her career.
In a completely wide open renewal of the Presque Isle Mile September 18 at Presque Isle Downs, 13 runners including the also-eligible will contest the eight furlong trip over synthetic footing.
Champion Songbird is set to make her much-anticipated return to the races in the $200,000 Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita on Saturday. The Grade 2 event will be run at a mile and a sixteenth and has attracted a field of seven.