Chris McErlean

U of A Symposium: Trying to Find a Way Forward Amid Track Closures

A panel about racetrack closures in the prime afternoon time slot on the first day of Tuesday's Global Symposium on Racing hosted by the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program (RTIP) in Tucson had the potential to be a somber and eulogistic affair, but it did yield some interesting back-and-forth when the discussion turned to how the industry might best stem the tide of Thoroughbred venues going dark for good. The topic "Land For Sale. How Will Race Track Closures Impact the Industry's Long-Term Sustainability?" elicited some of the...

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Penn National Replacing 51-Year-Old Track Rail

Penn National is getting a new track rail that will replace the one that's been in place since 1972. "That's the original track rail that's been in there since the track opened," Chris McErlean, the vice president of racing for PENN Entertainment, said during Tuesday's Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission meeting. "We are going to a new PVC breakaway type rail that is in use at a couple racetracks right now, and it should be better from a safety standpoint and a maintenance standpoint." Penn National started a scheduled break after...

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Betmakers Adds Penn To Fixed Odds Lineup

BetMakers Technology Group will add racing content from Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course to the growing slate available for fixed odds betting on MonmouthBets, the organization said in a release early on Wednesday morning. Through an exclusive license, the agreement between Penn National's parent company PENN Entertainment and BetMakers facilitates the delivery of content for fixed odds betting from Hollywood Casino and anticipates the addition of other PENN Entertainment racetracks in the coming months pending required horsemen and racing commission approvals. "We are very happy to work with...

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Pettigrew Returning to Sam Houston, Retama

Horse racing veteran Bryan Pettigrew will return to Texas and oversee horse racing operations at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston and at Retama Park in Selma, PENN Entertainment announced Tuesday. Pettigrew previously was head of marketing at Sam Houston Race Park in the mid-1990s before joining the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) and later the Breeders' Cup in Lexington, where he was the Chief Marketing Officer until 2019. "I was excited when I got the call to join the PENN Entertainment team and head up their Texas operations," Pettigrew...

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Texas Once Again Allows Simulcasting Signal Exports

On the back of Tuesday's decision in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denying a motion by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) Authority for that court to vacate its recent opinion that the law is unconstitutional, the Texas Racing Commission (TXRC) has reopened the door for Texas tracks to beam their signals out-of-state, with Sam Houston set to begin this Friday. Last year, the TXRC argued that it was statutorily barred from joining HISA, and because the enabling federal legislation gave the HISA Authority regulatory jurisdiction over the...

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Problems Persist with Gmax Timing System

Despite a press release in late August from Equibase in which the company announced it would be conducting an "extensive analysis" of its Gmax timing system, the technology has continued to produce a number of inaccurate times at the racetracks it services. The TDN has found recent examples from Del Mar, Tampa Bay Downs and Penn National that show there were problems with the Gmax timing of the races. Gmax, which is operated in the U.S. by Equibase, relies on Global Positioning System (GPS) to record times, as well as...

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