Track retirees looking for greener pastures

March 22, 1997


Staff Writer

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Three familiar faces will be missing when Charles Town Races reopens this spring.

Betty Longerbeam, Joe Servis and Elwood Heironimus have retired.

When the West Virginia thoroughbred oval closed in 1996, Servis and Heronimus were state stewards while Longerbeam was a secretary/receptionist for the board of stewards and the state veterinarian.

All three decided to leave the thoroughbred horse racing industry.

The 65-year-old Longerbeam started working at Charles Town Races in 1982 and was responsible for the book work involving the three stewards and the state veterinarian.


"I was responsible for typing up lists for the veterinarian, horses which were on Lasix for example, and I also typed up information for the stewards concerning hearings and appeals," the Charles Town resident said. "I really enjoyed my job."

The 75-year-old Heronimus had a long career in thoroughbred horse racing and was an association steward since 1984.

The Charles Town resident began his involvement with horse racing in 1941 when he went to work in the stable area of the racetrack.

Following a three-year stint in the service, Heironimus returned to West Virginia and eventually became a trainer and owner before accepting his first position with the track - as a veterinarian's assistant in 1956.

Starting in 1961, he worked various jobs - patrol judge, identifier and timer - at Shenandoah Downs and was named the assistant racing secretary there in 1966.

Heironimus was the racing secretary at Shenandoah Downs from 1969 through 1978 and the racing secretary at Charles Town before accepting the stewards' position in 1984.

"The main duties of a steward is to enforce the rules of racing," Heronimus added. "I enjoyed my job and also enjoyed the many years I spent in horse racing.

"The job was difficult at times but the toughest job I ever had was as a racing secretary. Trying to fill races was brutal at times."

The 65-year-old Servis, a former jockey, has been a West Virginia state steward since 1973. He was offered the position at the time by State Racing Commission Chairman Harry Buch.

"It has been a great experience," the Charles Town resident said.

Servis started his involvement with thoroughbred horse racing in 1947 at the Garden State Racetrack near Philadelphia, and rode his first race on May 27, 1949. He won his first race that August at the Cumberland (Md.) Racetrack aboard Smart Start.

After riding for 11 years, Servis retired and accepted a job with the Jockey's Guild Inc. He worked his way up in the organization and became Eastern Manager before retiring in 1972. He was offered the job as a state steward by Buch in January, 1973, and accepted the position.

"My main duties as a steward were to supervise all West Virginia licensees and the conduct of those licensees," Servis added.

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