Harrisburg, PA — Officials at two Standardbred tracks told the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission March 28 that pari-mutuel wagering on the live harness product continues to outpace the figures from the same period in 2022.

Scott Lishia, director of racing at Hollywood Casino at The Meadows, said growth in handle in January and February has continued as March comes to a close. He credited horsemen for their participation and the resulting growth in field size.

Lishia noted that after the March 31 program, The Meadows will be dark for more than a week for renovation of the track surface heading into the spring. When live racing resumes Wednesday (April 12), the calendar expands to four days a week with Saturdays added.

Mike Zullinger, director of race and sportsbook operations at Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania, said “handle has been strong, and it’s up over last year.” He said Pocono will change its Sunday post time to 6 p.m. effective April 2 and will add Tuesday afternoon cards beginning April 4. Pocono will race on a Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday schedule through August.

Harrah’s Philadelphia will begin its 2023 meet Sunday (April 2). Racing will be held Sundays, Thursdays and Fridays through mid-May, when Wednesday programs will be added.

The PHRC at the March 28 meeting also ratified its lab services agreement with the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, whose Anti-Doping and Medication Control took effect March 27 at tracks that fall under HISA jurisdiction. The Federal Trade Commission issued an order approving the ADMC Program rules a few hours before the Monday card at Parx Racing in Pennsylvania began.

The lab services agreement, which pertains to the Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology and Research Laboratory, still requires approval by two state agencies, as does an intergovernmental cooperative agreement. The PHRC indicated it would seek emergency approval to speed up the process.

Under the agreements, HISA and its Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit will carry out their rules using PHRC-paid employees. Tom Chuckas, director of the PHRC Thoroughbred bureau, and commission staff were able to negotiate “credits” that are expected to reduce the assessment of the ADMC Program and Racetrack Safety Program for the remaining nine months of 2023 from $6 million to $1.2 million.

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