parx 2024 stakes schedule revealed

By Dick Jerardi

There will be 40 stakes at Parx Racing in 2024, with purses of more than $6.3 million. The stakes program, as always, will be anchored by Pennsylvania Derby/Cotillion Day on Saturday, Sept. 21. That card will include 11 stakes with purses of $3.65 million.

The $1 million Grade I Pa. Derby and the $1 million Grade I Cotillion are the final Grade I races for 3-year-olds prior to the Breeders’ Cup. Owners and trainers from around the country circle those two races as the last chance for their horses to race against straight 3-year-olds for big money and Grade I glory.

Pa. Derby/Cotillion Day will also feature three other graded stakes – the $400,000 Grade II Gallant Bob Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters, the $250,000 Grade III Turf Monster for grass sprinters and the $200,000 Greenwood Cup for marathon specialists. The other stakes that day are: the Parx Dirt Mile, Parx Sprint, Plum Pretty, Whistle Pig, Miss Blue Tye and Alphabet Soup.

Smarty Jones Day, aka Pa. Derby/Cotillion Preview Day, moves to a Saturday (August 24) and will include six stakes headed by the Smarty Jones and Cathryn Sophia. The Sal DeBunda Sprint and Parx Dash will also be run that day.

Pa. Day at the Races will be two days later (Monday, Aug. 26), with four $100,000 stakes for Pennsylvania Breds.

The stakes schedule begins Monday, April 22 with the Page McKenney and Unique Bella, 7-furlong races for Pa. Bred males and females respectively.The PTHA President’s Cup goes on Belmont Stakes Day, Saturday June 8. The Crowd Pleaser and Power By Far for Pa. Breds are scheduled for Monday June 24.

The M.P. Ballezzi Appreciation Mile, honoring the late PTHA executive director Mike Ballezzi, will be run Saturday Oct. 12.

New this year on Wed. Nov 27 is the Thanksgiving Eve Racing Festival, a stakes program that will be anchored by the Pennsylvania Nursery.

Finally, the year ends with the Parx Winter Festival – seven stakes over two days, Monday, Dec. 30 and Tuesday Dec. 31. Those stakes will include the Wait For It and Miss Behaviour for 2-year-old males and females, races won last year by 2024 Withers winner Uncle Heavy and 2023 Parx Horse of the Year Aoife’s Magic respectively.

Beyond all the great stakes, 2024 promises to be special because it will be a two-pronged celebration at the track. This spring will mark the 20th anniversary of Smarty Jones’ Kentucky Derby and Preakness wins. This November will be the 50th anniversary of the opening of Keystone/Philadelphia Park/Parx Racing.

So many memories of all the great horses that ran at the track from Hall of Famers Spectacular Bid and My Juliet to divisional champions like Smarty Jones and Gallant Bob, Breeders’ Cup winners Jaywalk, Spun To Run, Afleet Again and Vequist, major stars Broad Brush, Ben’s Car, Dave’s Friend and Pure Sensation.

And just in the last decade, as Pennsylvania Derby Day took off and became the biggest September day in North American racing, who can forget Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome and champion Untapable in 2014, Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, Preakness winner Exaggerator, Kentucky Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia and the incredible Songbird in 2016?

So much history to consider and so much to look forward to as spring, summer and fall beckon.


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