Some $12 million is ready to be won by Pennsylvania's brightest and fastest harness racing stars during Pennsylvania Sire Stakes competition in 2012.
With slots betting reaching an all-time high of more than $30.3 billion last year, the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund, which gains a portion of the slots proceedings, also grew to record levels, and in this example money generated during 2011 will be used for Sire Stakes distribution during 2012, meaning that if anything, pari-mutuel preliminary legs could go for an overall higher gross total than last season.
There are four preliminary Sire Stakes legs for each of the Sire Stakes divisions (2- and 3-year-olds, trot/pace, colt/filly), with competitors earning points based on their order of finish. The top eight pointwinners during their preliminary races (which start with 3-yeaer-old trotting fillies on May 15 at The Meadows, and average in the neighborhood of $50,000 per race) will earn their way into $200,000 Sire Stakes Championships; this year the 3-year-old Championships will be grouped on Saturday (September 1) at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, while the 2-year-olds will vie for their titles on Friday (September 7) at The Meadows. Consolation races for the next-highest pointwinners not making the finals will also be held on those cards.
Another part of Pennsylvania's proud harness tradition is racing along the Commonwealth's county fair circuit, with upwards of $10,000 on the line for each of the eight divisions at each of the 20 fair Sire Stakes stops. The fair Sire Stakes horses also have a $160,000 Championship Day at The Meadows on Saturday (October 13).
But of course the old adage is "You can't win ‘em if you're not in ‘em!" The first 2012 Sire Stakes payments, for all classes except 3-year-old fair horses, must be postmarked to the Commission by Thursday (March 15).
by Gerry Connors, for the PA Harness Racing Commission