Charles Town club not in tune with track improvements

August 08, 2004|by LARRY YANOS

The newly-formed The Thoroughbred Club at the Charles Town Races & Slots believes the current renovations at the West Virginia thoroughbred oval aren't going far enough.

"We agree that work needed to be done but we feel Penn National Gaming management could have taken things a step farther by increasing the width of the turns, expanding to a mile track with an inner 6-furlong turf course and removing the concrete base on the racetrack, a very dangerous situation," The Thoroughbred Club Chairman Harold Shotwell said.

The racetrack will be shut down for at least two more weeks as work continues on building a new racing surface, a new track railing, improving the banking turns, adding a half-furlong to the 7-furlong chute and upgrading the lighting system.

"All these things are well and good but other things could have been done to improve the racetrack," Shotwell said. "Penn National management has done a great job with the casino, the parking deck and the parking lots. I wish they would have upgraded the racetrack further."


During the shutdown, the approximate 1,200 horses on the grounds are training at Shenandoah Downs.

"It will be a little inconvenient but everything should be fine for the trainers and owners," Charles Town Division/Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Don Combs said. "The training hours at Shenandoah Downs are be 6 to 10:30 each morning."

Shotwell said his organization sent out ballots and a large percentage of horsemen favored enlarging the racetrack and putting in a turf course.

According to Shotwell, The Thoroughbred Club members also belong to the Charles Town Division/Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, as well as the West Virginia Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

Smarty Jones honored

According to the Blood Horse Magazine, Philadelphia Park will honor hometown hero Smarty Jones with a farewell appearance on the racetrack next Saturday afternoon.

While details are not finalized, plans call for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner to be paraded down the home stretch sometime during the middle of the racing program.

Smarty Jones had initially been scheduled to run in the Grade II Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park on Sept. 6, but those plans were scrapped when trainer John Servis reported the colt was not training as well as he would like.

Then, last Monday it was announced that Smarty Jones would not race again and would enter stud at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky.

Pony Tales:

  • An 82-1 shot in the second leg of Thursday's pick four at the Pimlico Race Course triggered a huge payoff.

    No one picked all four winners, however, so bettors who selected three out of four garnered $18,648.20 for $2.

    Things started normally in the first leg of the bet as Casey Jean paid $10.20. Yes I Can, a Charles Town invader, then returned a $166 payoff, followed by A Chance To Harbor, $29.60; and American Boundary, $8.

    Yes I Can, trained by Barbara E. Villari, was ridden by jockey C.J. Olmo.

  • Mario Verge, who retired as a jockey during the Pimlico Race Course spring meet, has joined the Maryland Jockey Club racing office.

    The 39-year old won 2,118 races in his 23-year career for purses exceeding $31 million.

    "As a rider I am satisfied with what I accomplished," said Verge, who won more than 100 races in a year 11 times.

    After guiding Hannah the Wrecker to a victory at Pimlico on May 21, Verge hung up the silks and moved to another side of the industry.

    During the recently completed Colonial Downs meet in Virginia, he worked as jock's room manager, assisting clerk of scales Adam Campola. Now he is a claims clerk under the supervision of racing secretary Georganne Hale.

  • Maryland-based jockey Steve Hamilton has reached the 1,000-win mark and was honored by the Maryland Jockey Club with a personalized silver belt buckle.

    The 30-year old jockey ranks in the top 50 nationally in wins and has earnings exceeding $2 milllion.

  • With Gov. Ed Rendell on hand to watch the 32nd running of the $50,000 Pennsylvania Governor's Cup Handicap, owner-trainer Gaston Sandoval's veteran sprinter Rudyrudi unleashed a furious charge in the stretch to win the 5-furlong turf stakes last Saturday at the Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pa.

    Rudyrudi was making his third consecutive start in the track's premier stakes event. The bay gelding was unplaced the past two years but raised his career earnings to $600,004 when he pocketed $30,000 for his length and one-half win over the entry of Hawkwatch and La Maquina.

    Roberto Rosado, Jr. was the winning jockey aboard the Florida-bred.

    Rudyrudi is a 9-year old son of Jolie's Halo-Gossip Factory. He was bred by Haymarket, Inc. Rudyrudi covered the five furlongs in :57.82 while winning his 16th race from 72 lifetime starts.

Larry Yanos 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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