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Charles Town Races return

May 01, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Lori Testerman stood on her toes and seemed to be willing her horse to run faster around the Charles Town race track.

"Come on," she yelled.

"Keep her out in front. Come on, keep her out in front," said Ed Maxwell, a groom who works with Testerman's horse.

They cheered as Midnight Blizzard was first across the finish line Wednesday afternoon in the first race at the newly reopened Charles Town Races.

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A crowd of 4,328 people attended the afternoon races, the first at the track since it closed last November.

Construction workers in hard hats passed cigar-smoking gamblers as a more than $16 million renovation project continues at the facility.

Renovation work is expected to continue throughout the summer. Video lottery machines will be installed in July.

Race fan Beverly Kenly, of Baltimore, said she was disappointed more work had not been completed.

"It's no different than it was before. We were kind of excited," she said. "They have a lot to do."

But many race fans said they were glad the track was back in action and look forward to more improvements at the oval.

"I hope it works for them. They've worked hard on this track," said Christopher Wingate, 22, a history student at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Md.

With no classes on Wednesday, he drove down to the track.

"It's a beautiful day for it," Wingate said.

"It's pretty good, they've made some big improvements," said Phil Perks, 73, of Charles Town.

Perks said he can see that a lot of work remains to be done, but he said he looks at the long-term picture.

"It's been let go for 10 years, it'll take them a while to build it back," said Perks, who said he's been coming to the track for 50 years.

Gillian Greenfield, 21, of Toms Brooks, Va., said the track's reopening means work for her. She works with a trainer who works with the horses.

She's spent years around horses and answered a newspaper ad to get into the business.

"It's a different world than any other horse sport," she said. "But it's great."

Greenfield said she thought renovation work at the track would be further along.

"But they've really rushed to get this open. People come for the horses, not the beauty inside," Greenfield said. "Everyone's pretty excited about how many showed up today and it's only a Wednesday."

Race fan David Herrell, 43, of Stephens City, said he took the day off from buying and selling antiques to visit the track.

"I haven't seen where much has changed, to tell the truth. It's just nice to have something to do on a Wednesday afternoon," Herrell said. "It's nice to come out and enjoy the sunshine and watch the horses run."

Herrell said he's been watching the races at Charles Town for years.

"It's a pretty track. I hope they fix it up. It's as nice as any Maryland track," Herrell said.

Testerman said she's glad to be back at Charles Town.

"I love it up here," she said. "I always have."

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