RACING NEWS AND NOTES:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CASSE NOW TOP TRAINER IN PENN GAMING RACING CHALLENGE;
CASTELLANO MAINTAINS LEAD AMONG RIDERS
Wyomissing, PA (June 6, 2016) – While Saturday’s Penn Mile card didn’t start off well for trainer Mark Casse when Conquest Serenade clipped heels and fell at the eighth-pole in the $200,000 Penn Oaks, it certainly got a lot better a little less than two hours later when his pair of entrants in the $500,000 Penn Mile (G3) did the barn proud as Catch a Glimpse bested stablemate Airoforce by 2 1/4 lengths to take the day’s featured event. As a result, Casse has moved to the top of the trainer standings in the 2016 Penn Gaming Racing Challenge and holds a narrow 1 point lead over Todd Pletcher, who also captured a race on the Penn Mile card with Sweet Victory in the aforementioned Penn Oaks.
Earlier in the year, Casse saddled Kaigun to a runner-up effort in the $200,000 John Connally Turf Cup (G3) and Theogony to a fourth place finish in the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic (G3) in the series’ first event of the year at Sam Houston on January 30.
2015 Penn Gaming Racing Challenge leading trainer Mike Maker sits in third while with Alan Goldberg and Tom Amoss completing the top 5. Maker, Goldberg and Pletcher are currently the only three conditioners to win multiple races in the series thus far in 2016.
Two time defending Penn Gaming Racing Challenge champion jockey Javier Castellano was able to maintain his lead in the jockey category after his performance on the Penn Mile program. While his mount, Unbridled Daddydisappointed in the Penn Mile, the three-time Eclipse Award winner rode Sweet Victory to the winner’s circle in the Oaks and piloted Red Rifle to a second place finish behind S’maverlous in the Mountainview Handicap. Castellano’s biggest day in this year’s series came back in April when he was victorious in the $1,250,000 Charles Town Classic (G2) aboard Stanford and also won the Robert Hilton Memorial on the undercard the same day with Dig Deep.
Despite winning the first two Penn Gaming Racing Challenges fairly handily, Castellano has some company near the top this year in the form of Florent Geroux who captured a pair of races on Saturday by piloting both Catch a Glimpse and S’maverlous to their wins in the Mile and Mountainview respectfully. Geroux, whose 95 points paces him 10 back of Castellano, is the only rider to have won four races so far in this year’s series following victories on Da Big Hoss in the John Connally and Twirling Cinnamon in the Space City Stakes at Sam Houston.
Joe Bravo, Joel Rosario and Trevor McCarthy round out the current top 5 in the jockey category.
Colts Neck Stables LLC was propelled to the top of the leaderboard amongst owners following its second series win this year with Take Cover in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup. The New Jersey based stable owned by Richard Santulli also campaigns Robert Hilton Memorial winner Dig Deep. Colts Neck Stables first found success in the Penn Gaming Racing Challenge in 2015 when Force the Pass emerged victorious in the Penn Mile prior to going on to win the Belmont Derby (G1) in his next start.
Sitting in second place is John Huber’s Gata Racing Stable just 5 points out of the lead after sending out S’maverlous to his win in the Mountainview on Saturday night. Earlier this year, S’maverlous was fifth in the Charles Town Classic on the heels of his first graded stakes score in the New Orleans Handicap (G2) at Fairgrounds. Charles Town Classic winning owners Stonestreet Stables LLC, Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith remain in third, just 7 points out of the lead while Midwest Thoroughbreds sits in fourth. A quintet of owners are tied for fifth, 12 points out of the top spot.
The Penn Gaming Racing Challenge, inaugurated by Penn National Gaming, Inc. (PNGI) in 2014, ties together 22 stakes races worth more than $5 million purse money at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley 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.
All owners, trainers, and jockeys who participate in the unrestricted stakes on the designated event days will receive two points. Additionally, points are 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 all seven events will have their entry and starting fees refunded in any unrestricted stakes race run at a PNGI thoroughbred track in 2017, with the exception of Penn National itself. The winners of the inaugural 2014 Penn Gaming Racing Challenge were Ken and Sarah Ramsey as leading owner and Chad Brown in the trainer category while Javier Castellano took away honors as the top jockey. Last year, Fox Hill Farms edged out Ken and Sarah Ramsey as the top owner, with Maker the top trainer and Castellano once again leading jockey.
The Challenge is 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 next event in the Penn Gaming Racing Challenge takes place at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races on September 17 when the track plays host to the $350,000 Charles Town Oaks (G3) as part of its annual Race for the Ribbon card.
Penn National Gaming, Inc. (PNGI), is the largest operator of racetracks in North America, operating 12 pari-mutuel facilities in ten different states, including thoroughbred tracks Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Sam Houston Race Park, and Zia Park Casino, Hotel and Racetrack and Casino. PNGI’s portfolio also includes five off-track wagering locations plus eBet USA and WinLine, both regional Advance Deposit Wagering services. In 2014, PNGI racing pari-mutuel properties conducted nearly 1,200 live racing dates and processed more than $1 billion in on-track, import and export wagering. Penn National Gaming is also one of North America’s leading gaming companies with 20 casinos. For more information, visit http://www.pngaming.com/