By Dick Jerardi
So it will be 104 days between races at Parx. The waiting was hard; the not knowing when it would end was even harder.
It was March 10 when Little Neck won the last race at Parx. It will be June 22 when the next winner emerges from the first race that day.
Could Parx have opened a few weeks earlier? Say like June 1, two days before Belmont Park. Probably.
But, as PTHA president Sal DeBunda pointed out in his recent video announcement, horse racing is a regulated sport. Nobody can go any faster than the regulators tell them to go. Government often moves in unpredictable ways.
Why Pennsylvania took several weeks longer than New York to give the green light to race tracks isn’t clear, but it is also no longer relevant.
We can’t go back in time so it is time to look forward. Bruce Casella, Keith Jones and I look forward to taping “Let’s Go Racing’’ again, with this Saturday’s show a look ahead to the Parx reopening and the Belmont Stakes which will be run without fans.
As Sal pointed out, there are still some questions that will take some time to answer.
Will there be a Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion this year? The Pa. Derby’s traditional spot on the late September calendar would be between the rescheduled Kentucky Derby the first Saturday of September and the rescheduled Preakness the first Saturday of October, not a good fit. Could it be used as a Derby prep in August? Is there money in the purse account for it this year?
When will the Parx casino reopen? Slot machine revenue that fuels purses is critical.
When the casino does reopen, how quickly will patrons return and what will the slots handle be in relation to what it was before the shutdown?
When will fans be able to return to Parx for racing?
Delaware Park opens this Wednesday with fans and protocols. So that day with fans for more tracks is coming.
So the seemingly endless wait is nearly over. Racing at Parx will be Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There will be no August break.
There will be a Pa. Day at the Races, date to be determined soon. There will be Parx-based Mischievious Alex running in the Woody Stephens on Belmont Day for trainer John Servis.
The best news of all, of course, is owners, trainers, jockeys and Parx track employees can all get back to earning some money. The trainers and their help, of course, never stopped working. The owners never stopped paying bills. Many of the jocks were still there every morning exercising horses. And those horses will finally get a chance to run again.