Racetrack becomes increasingly attractive

April 11, 2004|by LARRY YANOS

With full fields and quality horses providing a solid combination, the Charles Town racetrack is attracting renewed interest all over the country.

"Our export signal has been fantastic this year, especially in February and March," Charles Town Races & Slots Director of Racing Richard Moore said. "The export figures are something."

This year, racetracks and other simulcast betting venues throughout the country have wagered $47,627,864 on live thoroughbred racing from Charles Town.

In February, the off-track handle was $14,507,963, and in March, it was $18,535,873.

"The fact we provide night racing and we have full fields has a lot to do with our simulcast success," Moore said. "The quality of racing here is the best I've seen, and we're one of the highest in the country in average starters. We're averaging 9.3 horses per start. The average for all North America racetracks is 8.4."


Moore also spoke on some other racetrack issues:

  • "Management and horsemen are aware of the racetrack conditions and resurfacing," he said. "Work on the drainage system and installation of new lighting will be done sometime this year. We will work around the Breeders Classics Day (scheduled for Sept. 11)."

  • "The dates we lost earlier this year because of inclement weather and unsafe track conditions will be made up," he said. "We added an 11th race on Wednesday and Thursday nights in February and March and we may do that again. We will also likely add a few days to the live racing schedule once the better weather gets here. The state racing commission mandates a minimum of 210 live racing dates and we'll definitely reach that figure."

  • On the addition of Donnie Combs, the newly named executive director the Charles Town Division/Horsemen's Benevolent and Protecticve Association, Moore said: "They found themslves a good man. Donnie worked with me years ago when I was the racing secretray here and he was an excellent worker. He has quite a racing background (tenures at Florida and New York racetracks) and he should do well here."

  • Oh, things have changed. "I can't say enough about the quality of racing here now," Moore said. "When I was racing secretary back in 1989, we were averaging $34,000 a night. It got as low as $21,000 per day in the mid-90s. Now, we're averaging $210,000 a day. It's hard to believe right now."

Hall of Fame

Trainer Shug McGaughey and 1998 Horse of the Year Skip Away are among the candidates for election to the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.

More than 140 members of the racing media will vote on the Hall of Fame, and the one winner in each category will be announced on May 25.

The finalists are: Jockeys Kent Desormeaux, Eddie Maple, Randy Romero and Jose Santos; trainers Shug McGaughey, John Veitch and Nick Zito; male horses Lure, Manila and Skip Away; and female horses Flawlessly, Mom's Command and Sky Beauty.

The winners in each category will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on Aug. 9.

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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