PA Gaming Control Board And Department of Agriculture Host First Race Track Gaming Expo
HARRISBURG: A unique display on Pennsylvania-bred horse racing legend Smarty Jones, and scheduled appearances by jockey Vladimir Diaz, a star of the ESPN movie “Ruffian” and Michael Jester, owner of Penn Ridge Farm where 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Real Quiet will stand for the 2008 breeding season, are among the highlights of Pennsylvania’s first Race Track Gaming Expo.
The event is open to the public and will be held from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 in the East Wing Rotunda of the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg. The Expo is jointly sponsored by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to showcase the revitalized Commonwealth horse racing industry. It is free to the public and no registration is necessary.
Each of Pennsylvania’s seven licensed horse racing facilities will have displays, as will state agencies that oversee the gaming and horse racing industries, and organizations that represent the thoroughbred and harness racing businesses.
In addition, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Chairman Mary DiGiacomo Colins, Lt. Governor Catherine Baker Knoll and Secretary of Agriculture Dennis C Wolff will make brief comments at the 10:00 a.m. opening of the Expo.
Smarty Jones, born at Someday Farm in Chester County, ran his first race at Philadelphia Park in Bensalem. However, it was the amazing near-Triple Crown run in 2004 that shot the horse to national prominence including an appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Smarty Jones won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes before being upset by a 36-1 underdog in the Belmont Stakes, the Triple Crown’s third and last jewel. The horse won over $2.5 million dollars in its nine race career and was the 2004 Eclipse Award winner for outstanding three-year old.
As a stud in retirement, Smarty Jones has earned its owners millions of dollars. With his first foals born in 2006, it is likely that horses sired by this Pennsylvania champion will begin racing in mid- 2008 or early 2009.
Diaz, who rides out of Penn National Race Track in Grantville, earned a key role in the 2007 made-for-TV move playing the role of Ruffian’s jockey Jacinto Vasquez. “Ruffian” is the story of the horse that won the Filly Triple Crown in 1975, and is generally acknowledged as the greatest female racehorse of all time. Unfortunately, Ruffian had a tragic demise when she was euthanized after suffering a breakdown in a match race against a male rival, Foolish Pleasure, at Belmont Park in July 1975.
Like Smarty Jones, Real Quiet fell just short of the Triple Crown in 1998. Real Quiet’s run for the Triple Crown failed only by a nose in finishing second in the Belmont Stakes. The Eclipse Award winner that year, Real Quiet’s performance was as close as a horse had come to taking the Triple Crown since Affirmed won all three races 20 years before.
Real Quiet has also been successful in stud and is the sire of the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Sprint-G1 champion Midnight Lute. Penn Ridge Farm is located in Middletown, PA.
For more information on the Race Track Gaming Expo, visit the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board web site at www.pgcb.state.pa.us and click the Expo icon on the home page.