- Horse Racing - Philly Park will limit attendence for 'Smarty' race

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Friday, July 9
Philly Park will limit attendence for 'Smarty' race

Smarty Jones' next appearance is expected to be a sellout.

With the Sept 6. Pennsylvania Derby now pencilled in as the next start for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, Philadelphia Park officials are formulating plans for what will undoubtedly be the biggest day in track history, plans that will include limiting attendance, possibly to no more than 30,000 people.

"We will probably try to sell tickets in advance," Philadelphia Park CEO Hal Handel said. "If it's not a sellout prior to the event we'll sell tickets on the day of the race, but I'd be shocked if it wasn't sold out earlier. I think if we just opened the gates we'd get 75,000 people."

Philadelphia Park is a small-sized track not built to accommodate large crowds. The track normally does not charge an admission fee and usually draws a crowd of about 18,000 to 20,000 for Pennsylvania Derby Day.

"When we have that many people the place is jammed," Handel said.

Handel said there will be an admission charge this year but that it will be a reasonable one. The charge, he said, will be necessary not only to keep track of the number of tickets sold but to help recoup the costs necessary to get the track ready for Smarty Jones's appearance. Bleacher seats will be installed at the track and the third floor of the grandstand, which was shut down long ago as on-track crowds dwindled, will be spruced up and opened for the day. Handel said the track will spend between $100,000 and $200,000 to prepare for the day.

"We want to get 30,000 to 35,000 people into this facility comfortably rather than it being one of those days where you have a record attendance but nobody can go to the bathroom or make a bet," he said. "We're trying to see what our maximum capacity is, then we will track that with parking options close by to see if we can marry the two."

Smarty Jones has not run since finishing second in the June 5 Belmont, where his bid to sweep the Triple Crown was denied by Birdstone. Trainer John Servis has all but ruled out bringing his 3-year-old star back in the Aug. 8 Haskell at Monmouth, meaning the Pennsylvania Derby will likely be his first appearance since the Triple Crown.

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