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Charles Town to cancel races for track fixup

June 02, 2004|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

Charles Town Races & Slots will cancel live thoroughbred racing for most of August so the track can be upgraded and new lighting installed, a spokesman for the track's parent company said Tuesday.

Eric Schipper, vice president of public affairs in Penn National's headquarters in Wyomissing, Pa., said the work will include building a new surface on the track, improving the banking turns, replacing the lighting system and making other "significant improvements to enhance the track."

Ann Hilton, president of the 2,500-member Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, which represents the horse owners, said association members have approved the project.

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"We're going to lose 15 racing days in August, but we'll be able to make them up later," Hilton said.

"The track needs an upgrade. It will benefit all of the horsemen. It's a good thing," she said.

Simulcast betting parlors and slot machines will be available during the renovations, which will be done between Aug. 2 and Aug. 25, Schipper said.

Peter Carlino, chairman and chief executive officer of Penn National Gaming, said the work reflects Penn National's long-term commitment to racing.

"Our partnership and cooperation with the horsemen at Charles Town has revived first-class racing at the facility, and we look forward to the track's reopening," he said.

The renovation project could cost more than $5 million, track officials have said.

Penn National has spent more than $200 million on the track and the casino since 1997. Charles Town has more than 3,500 slot machines and has permission to operate 4,500 machines.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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