Charles Town switches to 12-race schedule this week

July 11, 2004|by LARRY YANOS

Charles Town Races & Slots will increase its daily live racing schedule beginning Wednesday.

"We'll be running 12 races a day from July 14 through Nov. 13," said Don Combs, executive director of the Charles Town Division/Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. "Post time will be 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday."

The reason for the expanded schedule is to make up races which will be lost during while the track is shut down in August.

"We will shut down following the Aug. 1 races and re-open, hopefully, on Aug. 25," Combs said. "During the August shutdown, the track will be upgraded and new lighting will be installed. The track certainly needs some attention and management and horsemen felt August was a good time to get things done."


The work will primarily include building a new racing surface, a new track railing, improving the banking turns, adding a half-furlong to the 7-furlong chute and improving the lighting system.

"Horsemen and management were in complete agreement with the new schedule and the (West Virginia State) racing commission OKed everything at a meeting last Tuesday in Morgantown," Combs said. "The only times during that stretch that we will not have 12 live races is Breeders Classics Night on Oct. 9. We will have 12 races on all other live racing dates, including Labor Day and Columbus Day."

According to Combs, Charles Town will resume the normal live racing schedule after Nov. 13.

Wayne Harrison, acting president of the Charles Town Division/HBPA, likes the new schedule.

"We were looking for ways to make up dates affected by the shutdown and I feel adding a few races a day is far more beneficial for horsemen and management than adding another day of the week to the live racing schedule," Harrison said.

Harrison likes the current working relationship between horsemen and management.

"Management and horsemen have been meeting on various subjects and the spirit of cooperation has been outstanding," Harrison said. "Management has agreed to spend $7 million on the track renovations, four new barns and a new 3/8-mile training track. All this benefits the Charles Town horsemen, and we are very appreciative."

Owner's Day

The annual Owners Day program, scheduled for next Sunday at Charles Town, will be highlighted by four $50,000-added stakes races with preferences being given to Charles Town-based owners and trainers.

The featured attractions include: The HBPA and WVRC Stakes for 3-year-olds and upwards at a mile-and-an-eighth with the most starts at Charles Town in their last four starts; the HBPA Horsemen's Stakes for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and upward with the most starts at Charles Town in their last four starts; and the HBPA Dash for 3-year-olds and upwards with the most starts at Charles Town in their last four starts.

"The owners and trainers look forward to this day of racing," said Combs. "The purses are good here now, even more impressive on this day."

There will be 12 races contested on Owner's Day, with post time at 1 p.m.

Pony Tales

n It has been 18 years since Racing Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux rode his first winner.

The former Eclipse Award-winning, Maryland-based jockey rode a 3-year-old filly named Miss Tavern to the winner's circle in the fifth race at Evangeline Downs in Louisiana on July 13, 1986.

Desormeaux, who primarily competes on the California circuit now, will officially join the Racing Hall of Fame this August at Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

-- Fans may now register for the 2004 Claiming Crown Handicapping Contest at

The contest, keyed to Saturday's Claiming Crown at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn., challenges handicappers to pick one horse in each of the 11 races on the race card - including the six Claiming Crown races.

The three entrants with the highest total pari-mutuel return, based on a mythical $2 win and place wager on each horse selected, will receive berths in next January's Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas.

The Claiming Crown Handicapping Contest will be open for selections shortly after entries are taken for the event on Wednesday. Entries are limited to one per person.

For complete rules, visit

-- The July 3 National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Pick 4 wager, conducted in conjunction with the "NTRA Super Saturday" series, handled $992,784 and returned a payout of $7,879 for $2.

The NTRA Pick 4, hubbed by the New York Racing Association, had a $400,000 handle guarantee and challenged bettors to pick the winners of four of the races shown on ESPN - the Suburban Handicap from Belmont Park; the Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap from Churchill Downs; the United Nations Handicap from Monmouth Park; and the American Oaks from Hollywood Park.

Winners of the NTRA Pick 4 were as follows: Suburban Handicap - Peace Rules, $8.40; Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap - Quantum Merit, $13.40; United Nations Handicap - Request for Parole, $11.40; American Oaks - Ticker Tape, $26.00.

The next NTRA National Pick 4 will be held Aug. 14. Participating races include the Arlington Million from Arlington Park; the Alfred Vanderbilt Handicap from Saratoga; the Sword Dancer Handicap from Saratoga; and the Beverly D. Stakes from Arlington Park.

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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