From a Penn National Gaming Inc. release

In an effort to build on the success of the racing events introduced at its thoroughbred tracks over the past few years, Penn National Gaming, Inc. (PNGI) will launch the Penn Gaming Racing Challenge in 2014, tying together more than 20 stakes races worth over $5.5 million at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Sam Houston Race Park, and Zia Park.  The Challenge includes tie-ins between groups of races in the series, as well as bonuses and prizes that include free nominations, refund of entry and starter fees, and trips to the PNGI owned M Resort in Las Vegas.

The Penn Gaming Racing Challenge will cover the following six stakes event days at the four tracks:

  • January – Houston Ladies Classic Day – Sam Houston
  • April – Charles Town Classic Day – Charles Town
  • May – Penn Mile Day – Penn National
  • September – Charles Town Race for the Ribbon Day – Charles Town
  • November – Zia Park Oaks & Derby Day – Zia Park
  • November – Fabulous Strike Handicap Day – Penn National

The final races and dates for the six event days that are subject to regulatory approvals will be released in the coming months.

All owners, trainers, and jockeys who participate in the unrestricted stakes on the designated event days will receive two points. Additionally, points will be awarded for Top 5 finishes in varying scales, based on the value or grade of the race. The additional points range from the 25 received as a result of a win in a Grade 2, to one (1) point for a fifth place finish in an unrestricted stakes race worth between $50,000 and $75,000.

At the end of the Challenge, the owner, trainer, and jockey with the most points will each receive two round-trip airfare tickets and a three-night stay at the 390 room M Resort located on South Las Vegas Boulevard in Las Vegas.  In addition to the travel rewards, the owner and trainer accumulating the most points at the end of the six events will have their entry and starting fees refunded in any unrestricted stakes race run at a PNGI thoroughbred track – with the exception of Penn National itself – for the entire following calendar year.

The Challenge will be divided into six divisions based on race type – 3-year-old & up turf route, 3-year-old and up turf sprint, 3-year-old and up dirt sprint, 3-year-old and up filly and mare dirt sprint, 3-year-old and up dirt route, and 3-year-old and up filly and mare dirt route.

Horses running in a race within one division will automatically be nominated free of charge to the following races within that same division. Also, horses that start in a Challenge race will have all entry and starter fees refunded (excluding supplemental fees) when they start in a subsequent race in the same division.

“The Penn Gaming Racing Challenge is a natural and exciting way to tie together the growing lineup of major stakes events at our racetracks,” said Penn National Gaming, Inc’s Corporate Vice President of Racing Chris McErlean. “Races like the Charles Town Classic, Penn Mile, Houston Ladies Classic, and upcoming inaugural Zia Park Oaks exemplify the top class racing that we offer, and it will be our pleasure to award the leading owner, trainer, and jockey in the 2014 Challenge a trip to the spectacular M Resort.”

(Featured image by B & D Photography.)