At the races

Charles Town attracts national interest

Charles Town attracts national interest

August 19, 2002|by LARRY YANOS

An attractive purse structure has lured owners and trainers to the Charles Town Racetrack - placing the thoroughbred racing oval among the leaders in the country in horses per start.

"We're averaging 9.09 starters per race, that has to be the top or close to the top nationally in racetracks having a 10-horse starting gate," Charles Town Racing Secretary Jimmy Hammond said.

Hammond says the purse structure, an average of $135,000 a day, has brought inquiries from owners and trainers all over the country.

"I can remember the days of the empty stalls, us asking for horsemen to come here, but that isn't the case any more," Hammond said. "The number of horses continue to grow, we have 1,467 on the grounds now and the figure would be even higher if we had more stall space."


The 9.09 starters per race figure includes Jan. 1-Aug. 11.

"This year, we've had a total of 1,589 races and 14,456 starters," Hammond said. "If we maintain this level, and we should with five days of racing and 10 races per day through the end of the year, we should break the overall 2001 figures of 8.9 starters (2,319 total races and 20,685 starters)."

Stokes bros shine

If you like to wager a few bucks on jockey Stokes, then last Friday was the time to visit Mountaineer Track and Gaming Resort in Chester, W.Va.

Joseph Stokes, sixth in the overall jockey standings at the West Virginia thoroughbred oval, won the fourth race aboard Morning Ride and the fifth race aboard Sharp Critic - both mile events on the turf.

His brother, Louis Stokes, won the seventh race aboard Feelinghisoats (mile on the dirt) while Rex Stokes III won the eighth race (five furlongs on the dirt) aboard Magic At Midnight.

Day for the record

Last Saturday, Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day became thoroughbred racing's richest rider in purse earnings by winning the $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational Handicap at the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. aboard With Anticipation.

And how did he celebrate?

After a few congratulatory handshakes in the winner's circle, Day hopped on a plane and headed to Chester, W.Va. to compete in the Grade III, $600,000 West Virginia Derby at the Mountaineer Race Track and Gaming Resort.

He finished sixth aboard Pass Rush.

Entering the racing card at Saratoga, Day trailed recently retired Chris McCarron on horse racing's list of all-time leading jockeys by purse earnings. Horses ridden by McCarron accounted for $264,351,679 in purse winnings during his illustrious career.

Now Day can set his sights on racing's all-time win record.

The leader, the still-active Laffit Pincay Jr., sits atop the list with over 9,400 race victories. Second is the legendary Bill Shoemaker, who retired with 8,833 wins, and third is Day with nearly 8,300 tallies to his credit.

Pony tales

A full field of nine horses is expected for today's main event at Laurel Park, the $50,000 Mister Diz Stakes.

The lineup for the 5 1/2-furlong test includes four of the first five finishers from last year's race.

Sassy Hound, a winner of the Dave's Friend Stakes at Laurel Park two weeks ago, in the pre-race favorite. This is the first start on the turf for the Ben Feliciano, Jr. trainee who has finished in the money 20 times in 25 career starts.

Elberton, who won last year's event at Pimlico by completing the 5 furlongs in an impressive 56 seconds, is the second choice. The son of Perfecting has finished in the money 10 times in 12 turf tries with five wins - including a victory in the Maryland Million Turf last October.

The others returning from last year's Mister Diz are runner-up Tyaskin, fourth place finisher Smart Sunny and Dr. Max (10-1), who was fifth.

Regarding his recent induction into thoroughbred racing's Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Maryland-based trainer Buddy Delp said "I've got to keep pinching myself, it's a great honor."

The 69-year-old Delp is best known for conditioning Spectacular Bid, a three-time champion, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 1979. A year later, Delp guided him through an undefeated campaign - winning all nine races en route to Horse of the Year honors - while Delp earned an Eclipse Award as top trainer.

Delp has seven Pimlico Racetrack training titles to his credit in a career that began with an Our Rocky victory at Laurel Park in the fall of 1962.

Delp also has won training titles at Delaware Park, Monmouth Parkin New Jersey, and Arlington Park and Hawthorne in Illinois and has nearly 3,600 victories with earnings exceeding $37 million. He has won stakes with 68 different horses.

On Friday, it was 30 years ago that legendary Secretariat won his first stakes race - the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. The time for the 6-furlong race was 1:10, the fastest time for the distance at Saratoga that year.

Larry Yanos is sports editor of The Daily Mail. He covers horse racing for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131 ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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