When Parx reopens for racing Monday, it will have been 104 days since the last race at the Bensalem track. Delaware Park opened Wednesday, 24 days after its originally planned beginning on May 27.
No fans will be permitted at Parx. It is unclear when the Parx casino will reopen. Bucks County is getting very close to the green phase, which should allow the casino to open soon and fans to return to the track.
Fans are permitted at Delaware Park, where the casino has been open on a limited basis for a few weeks.
Delaware Park is a seasonal track while Parx is open year-round, so the effect at Parx has been profound for owners, trainers, jockeys, the stable workers and track employees.
The Parx stable area never closed because the horses needed to be fed and trained every day. The problem was that the expenses kept mounting with no revenue from purses.
“It’s usually around $2,500 a month per horse [in expenses that include trainer fees],” said prominent owner Jack Armstrong. “During this time, the vet bills were a little smaller without the horses being treated for races. Still, between $2,000 and $2,500 per month per horse.”
Armstrong owns 18 horses, so using $2,000 per horse as a guide, that’s a $36,000 loss per month. It will be 3½ months between races at Parx.
“And just because we’re back racing, it doesn’t mean all your horses are ready to roll the first time,” Armstrong said.
The good news at Parx, after such a long shutdown, is that if the casino does open soon, purse money generated from the slot machines, which also have been silent, will start to flow again. How many customers are going to return to the casino is a question that cannot yet be answered.
Parx will race Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with a 12:50 p.m. first post. Delaware Park’s meet, originally scheduled for 85 days, has been reduced to 65 days. That track will race Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday through Oct. 17. Thursdays will be added July 16 and continue through Oct. 1.
It is unclear at this point if Parx’s signature races, the Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion, will be run this year. There are two things working against them: the revised Triple Crown schedule and a lack of purse money, given the need to support the Parx regulars who have not had the chance to run their horses for so long.
The Pa. Derby and Cotillion likely would have been run Saturday, Sept. 19. The Kentucky Derby is Sept. 5 and the Preakness Oct. 3. No way Parx is going to attract the top 3-year-olds for the Pa. Derby in between those two races. The Cotillion also would be affected because the Kentucky Oaks is scheduled for Sept.4.