Live handle not racing along at Charles Town

August 16, 1998|By LARRY YANOS

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Despite significant increases in simulcasting and video lottery revenues, Charles Town Races is still struggling with its live racing handle in 1998.

"The simulcasting and video lottery numbers are great. The same can't be said for the live racing handle. It hasn't taken off like everyone expected," Charles Town director of racing Richard (Dickie) Moore said. "Figures in the last three months show our live racing handle has only showed a slight increase over similar dates in 1997. Yet our simulcasting and video lottery show major increases."

Here's a comparison:


1998 live racing handle: $2,548,347
1997 live racing handle: $2,407,248
1998 simulcasting: $5,084,810
1997 simulcasting: $3,869,379


1998 live racing handle: $2,043,599
1997 live racing handle: $2,080,099
1998 simulcasting: $4,037,483
1997 simulcasting: $3,217,047


1998 live racing handle: $2,632,558
1997 live racing handle: $2,241,302
1998 simulcasting: $4,347,964
1997 simulcasting: $3,081,196

"Things are looking better in August and, hopefully, the live racing handle will continue to pick up," Moore said. "I think the fact we're attracting more owners and trainers now with an improved purse structure will help the situation. It will create more full fields and that will lead to increased betting and a stronger handle."


According to Charles Town mutuels manager Joy Lushbaugh, the overall simulcasting and live racing statistics are impressive, and the months of May, June and July have all shown increases over 1997 figures.

Overall (live and simulcast)


1997: $6,276,627
1998: $7,633,157


1997: $5,297,146
1998: $6,081,082


1997: $5,322,498
1998: $6,980,522

Moore says the horsemen's underpayment (money in their account) as of Aug. 12 is $1,161,00.

According to statistics supplied by Charles Town marketing director Bill Bork Jr., the daily purse average at the track is approximately $45,000. Broken down further, the levels stand at $3,800 for bottom-level claiming races, $5,900 for maiden special weight races and as much as $7,900 for conditioned allowance races.

"We're getting different trainers and owners shipping to Charles Town all the time, and that should help," Moore said. "The more horses in a race, the more betting possibilities, and it all leads to a stronger handle."

Commission undecided

Members of the West Virginia State Racing Commission have not yet made a decision regarding the situation concerning three 1998 racing dates lost in April.

The track was shut down April 8, 10 and 11 and resurfaced due to poor running conditions.

Management and horsemen at the track have a difference of opinion regarding the three lost days and met with the three commission members last Monday morning at a hearing in Jefferson County.

"We've yet to hear a decision," said Dick Watson, president of the Charles Town Horsemen's Benevolent Protective Association. "We (horsemen) want to see the three racing dates put back in the 1998 calendar, but management disagrees with that. They say they would lose money. Statistics have proven that the simulcasting and video lottery revenues increase when tied in with a live racing card, so we think it is the best interests of all concerned to add those three racing dates."

Moore says the timing of the makeup dates is the reason management has a difference of opinion.

"Looking at last year's numbers from Sept. 8-Dec. 29 shows we had some real bad Mondays. The horsemen alone lost $271,000," Moore said. "And the association simply does not generate enough money to come out on top."

According to West Virginia state law, Charles Town must run a minimum of 210 dates in 1998. But the commission could trim that to 207 if it feels the shutdown due to the poor racing surface was justified.

"If the commission rules in favor of making up the three dates this fall, management will do everything to make them good days. We'll promote and probably have a giveaway," Moore said. "Regardless of the decision by the commission, we do have to make up one day because of inclement weather earlier in the year. That will be Nov. 9."

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