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Racing in his blood

March 31, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Bill Bork Jr. has racing in his blood.

Bork started last week as the new marketing director for Charles Town Races. His father is president of Penn National, the track's new owner.

Like his father, Bork, 28, has spent his life around horse tracks up and down the East Coast.

"I remember being put on a horse in a winner's circle when I was 5," Bork said.

Race tracks are a different sort of place, Bork said. He grew up around them and has seen many colorful characters over the years: jockeys, horse owners, gamblers and track officials.

"It's something to feed off of," Bork said.

Bork attended Central Michigan University where he studied food service management.

But he said he realized the field was not for him.

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Between classes, Bork would head out to smaller race tracks near his school. He decided to switch his major to marketing.

In 1992, he graduated and began working at off-track betting parlors around Pittsburgh.

Despite all of his travel, he had never been to Charles Town until he got the job as marketing director.

Two weeks ago, he arrived in town and found an apartment. He said he stopped at the track office to introduce himself.

Bork said he was immediately struck by the friendliness of the people, not just in the office, but also in the community.

As marketing director, he is in charge of advertising the track's reopening, planned for late April.

He'll also set up promotional events and group ticket sales, events to help raise the track's profile.

At one time the track drew crowds of up to 3,500 people. In recent years, the races might attract 1,200 fans.

Bork said he's hoping to get the number back up once live racing resumes.

The intimacy of a smaller track such as Charles Town Races makes it popular with many of the fans who enjoy being closer to the horses, he said.

Another draw for the track will be simulcast racing with races from other tracks featured on television screens and, later this summer, video lottery machines.

"People like what we've got here," Bork said.

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