W.Va. race track names new president

January 09, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - An experienced race track manager who was instrumental in the construction of the Penn National Race Course near Harrisburg, Pa., was named president and general manager of Charles Town Races Wednesday, according to Penn National officials.

Jay Fortney will replace Roger Ramey, who was named president of Charles Town Races at the beginning of the successful campaign for video lottery at the local thoroughbred oval.

In addition to helping to build Penn National Race Course, Fortney was the oval's first superintendent, according to a press release from Penn National. Fortney was recently general manager of the Detroit Race Course in Michigan. Detroit Race Course is a mile track and is regarded as one of the most popular tracks in the Midwest, said William J. Bork, president and chief operating officer for Penn National.


The daily handle at Detroit Race Course has been about $650,000, Bork said. In comparison, Charles Town's had been averaging about $105,000 a day, Bork said.

"We are quite fortunate to be able to get a person with Jay's vast experience in racetrack operations to join us at Charles Town. He will be a valuable asset in our plans for the revitalization of thoroughbred racing at this historic oval," Bork said in a prepared release.

Neither Fortney or Ramey could be reached for comment Wednesday.

Ramey, who had been a West Virginia Racing Commissioner before joining the track, will now be vice-president of public affairs at Charles Town, which will involve a variety of duties such as doing legislative work for the track, Bork said.

Fortney will take over as president of Charles Town after Penn National purchases the track, a process that has taken longer than expected. Bork said his company may sign the final papers for the sale of the track Monday.

Penn National officials also announced that Dickie Moore, a long-time veteran at Charles Town, will remain director of racing at the track.

Bork said Wednesday that Ramey knew that he would only be president of the track for a short period.

Ramey was named president of Charles Town because it was important to have someone in control of the track that local people were familiar with, Bork said. Part of Ramey's job was to explain the importance of having video lottery at the track.

"We're really impressed with the job he did," Bork said.

Jefferson County voters initially turned down the video games in 1994. Track officials said if voters did not approve the games in the recent November election, the struggling oval would close. Penn National promised to take over the track if voters approved the games.

Voters overwhelmingly passed the games in the Nov. 5 general election.

Last month, a Delaware corporation requested a preliminary injunction barring Penn National from purchasing the track unless it was given permission to install video lottery at the track.

Penn National had planned to install the games at the track, but GTECH Corp. claimed it signed an agreement more than two years ago that gave it the sole right to put video lottery at the track, according to a suit the company filed in U.S. District Court.

District Judge W. Craig Broadwater later turned down GTECH's request, saying there was little indication that Charles Town will not honor the terms of the agreement.

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