US Racing Track Guide: Penn National

Betfair now offers Exchange markets on a whole host of tracks in the United States. In his latest in-depth guide, US racing handicapper Dean Keppler takes a look at Penn National...

What kind of racecourse is it?

• It consists of a one mile (1.6 km) dirt track and a seven-furlong turf course.

Tell me something I don't know about this track...

• It is rare among United States Thoroughbred tracks in offering racing 52 weeks a year.
• Ever since Penn National opened its gates in 1972, they've been bucking industry trends. While racing on a national basis has shown significant declines in attendance and betting over the past decade, that trend hasn't been totally reflected at Penn National. Large, competitive fields has kept Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course as an attractive night Thoroughbred signal for both locals and simulcast customers from across the country.

When do they race?

Mainly Wednesday through Saturday evenings January Through December - starting at 11:00 p.m. GMT

Best Ever Race

The Grade 2 Penn Mile November 26, 2014. The (G2) Penn Mile on the grass was run for the first time just three-and-a-half years ago on June 2, 2013. Penn Mile runners have already made their presence felt on some of the biggest turf stages in the country. Jack Milton, third in the inaugural Penn Mile, would go on to win the Makers 46 Mile (G1) at Keeneland in 2015. 2014 winner Bobby's Kitten hit his career high note taking the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) later that year while 2015 champ Force the Pass won the Belmont Derby (G1) in his subsequent start. In 2016, the one mile test for three-year-olds produced eventual Secretariat (G1) victor Beach Patrol, while the Penn Mile itself was won by 2015 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) heroine Catch a Glimpse.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Bobby's Kitten, again showing his affinity for the turf, rated nicely early and pulled away to a comfortable victory in the (G2) $500,000 Penn Mile on the grass at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course May 31, 2014.

Most Popular Jockeys

Rodriguez, Angel R.
Gonzalez, Edwin
Conner, Tyle
Most Popular Trainers
Kreiser, Timothy C.
Kulp, Brandon
Stites, Flint W.

How to find winners at Penn National...

The Penn National dirt and turf course usually plays fairly which makes for an exciting and popular handicapping product. Like most traditional American ovals, speed or "pressing" types win most of the races, but closers do have a chance when catching the right pace scenario. Trainer Flint Stites success resolves around pure volume of entrants. He's very lucrative in many categories but keep an eye out for third off the bench runners ridden by Pedro Guzman or Jeremy Rose.

Leading trainer Tim Kreiser has a strong 25% overall win percentage, but is very proficient with first time starters; first and second off the Claim runners; and second and third off the layoff runners. Brandon Kulp is strong with horses making their second career start; second and third off a Layoff; and first and second off the Claim.

Draw Positions

In sprint dirt races, middle and outside posts are preferred with the exception of post 11 and 12. Post four through ten are best and most preferred at Penn National. In route events, the inside and middle draws (post four through eight) are equally effective, and posts nine through 12 are least attractive. In turf sprints middle posts are best, and in turf routes the inside is the place to be. Posts nine through 12 are unproductive in both grass sprints and routes.

Running Styles

Early speed and presser types are equally effective in sprint and route dirt races at Penn National. In 5 ½ and 6-furlong dirt races, 37% and 33% respectively of races are won by wire-to-wire types. Lone speed is also does well in dirt route events, but wire-to-wire winners drops down to 26% and 21% going 1 Mile 70 yards and 1 1/16 Miles. Presser or stalker types do better in both turf sprint and route events.

When betting Penn National look out for... Value is the name of the game and jockey David Cora on a speed horse on either the dirt or turf trained by Timothy Kreiser, Bernard Houghton or Kimberly Graci usually offers just that. Trainer Sandee Martin and jockey D G Whitney with 2nd off the Claim and 1st off the Layoff runners is a lethal combination.