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Every once an a while I get some feedback from people who have viewed this site. In the case of racing in Pennsylvania, I got two post's, both about Commodore Downs, it seems I was in the right church wrong pew. So I have finally got to Pennsylvania on the re-write and hopefully will set the record straight, thanks Bill and Greta for keeping me honest.   

After years of dealing with Puritan Blue Laws harness racing was finally legalized in 1963. A relative newcomer to the gaming world it didn't take Pennsylvania long to see the benefit of the gambling dollar. Pennsylvania may now be the snakehead fish of racing converting every track in the state into Racinos/Casinos. Plunkink Harrah's Chester just about in New Jersey elevating purses at PARX in Philly to draw horses away from New York. A world class facility at the Meadows in Western Pa. to deviate Ohio and weaken West Virginia. A new Racino in Erie to challenge Western New York and Northern Ohio. For the newest kid on the block Pennsylvania seems to control the destiny of racing on the East Coast.

 When the state legalized wagering it granted three licenses. Two of the tracks Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and The Meadows outside of Pittsburg begin operation immediately. The other Pocono Downs begin operating in Wilkes-Barrie in 1965.

 Liking the revenues from harness racing Pennsylvania legalized Thoroughbred Horse Racing in 1968. At that time no track had been built for flat runners so all three harness tracks were called upon for double duty. The Meadows ran thoroughbred meets under the name Pitt Park. Pocono ran a Shamrock at Pocono meet both tracks retained their five eights mile configuration. Liberty Bell was the only track to build a mile oval around the existing harness layout both utilizing the same stretch.

 In 1972 the first track built exclusively for thoroughbreds Penn National Race Course was opened on the outskirts of Harrisburg. Two years later Keystone Race track ran it's inaugural meet near Philadelphia the thoroughbred dates were shifted from Liberty Bell. To close the seventies a third thoroughbred track Commodore opened in Erie.

 In 1983 Pennsylvania pulled another rabbit out of it's hat when The Meadows introduced Call-A-bet which has grown into Xpressbet a major player in online wagering. The rest of the eighties didn't turn out so rosy in PA the jewel of harness racing Liberty Bell closed it's doors. Pocono Downs closes for a short period and the ill fated venture at Commodore Downs at deaths door for most of it's existence expires in 1987.

 Racing kept declining and somewhere along the way Keystone was renamed Philadelphia Park which got a boost when Garden State Park rolled over across the river. Everybody else was hanging on. Fast forward to 2004 and here goes Pennsylvania again this time it's Racinos that get approved by the legislature. Walla! there's Racinos everywhere all Pennsylvania tracks convert even new ones are built. In Chester outside of Philly a new Racino named Harrah's Chester opens it's doors in 2006. Now if you can believe this the second Racino Presque Isle Downs opens in Erie about three exits away on Route 90 where Commodore Downs is now a parking lot.