Classics will alter plans to stay at Charles Town

September 26, 2004|by LARRY YANOS

If the 18th annual West Virginia Breeders Classics were a football game, they could face a "delay of game" penalty if Charles Town Races & Slots track conditions are deemed still unsafe.

Live racing resumed Saturday after the racetrack was shut down for eight days because of unsafe track conditions caused by wet, uneven surfaces throughout the racing strip.

West Virginia Breeders Classics, Ltd. president Sam Huff remains hopeful all will be in order for Oct. 9's $1-million event. But Huff said he won't hesitate to postpone the event if necessary, but he won't change the location.

"Safety is the key issue here, the main concern," Huff said. "We can't expect the jockeys and horses to run on an unsafe racetrack and we'll move the races, if we need to. This was discussed at a recent board meeting."


Relocation, however, is not an option.

"We'll definitely run the Classics at Charles Town, even if we have to race later in the year," Huff said. "The racetrack problems are being addressed and (Penn National Gaming, Inc.) management will make certain everything is fine before allowing horses back on the track. It's an unfortunate situation but those things happen."

Huff and the board of directors agreed that even if there is a delay, the Classics will remain in Charles Town to prevent any added difficulties.

"We ran at Mountaineer Park in '95 and we don't want to do that again," Huff said. "Shipping that many horses was a nightmare and it just wasn't a very good situation. The horsemen and the fans didn't like it."

The Classics are West Virginia's richest day of thoroughbred racing, featuring an eight-race card restricted to West Virginia-bred or -sired horses, consisting of the $300,000 West Virginia Breeders Classic, the $250,000 Cavada Breeders Classic and six $75,000 races.

The countdown to the Classics continues this afternoon at Charles Town with four prep races. The lineup includes The $40,000-added Ruth C. Funkhouser, the $40,000-added The Dr. Ernest Benner Stakes, and the $40,000-added The Golden Gull "Chris Brown" Memorial Stakes and The $40,000-added Roger Van Hoozer Stakes.

Stepping milestones

Larry Reynolds has gone a long way to become a local favorite.

Reynolds, a Charles Town-based jockey, won his 3,000th career race by guiding Secret Missle - trained by Graham Motion - to victory at Timonium.

It came 18 years after Reynolds gained his first career win at Metro Park in Billings, Mont., at age 16. He came east in the fall of 1986 and has ridden primarily in Maryland and West Virginia since.

"I've enjoyed my career, rode some nice horses over the years," Reynolds said. "I've had my share of injuries ... 1999 was a rough one, but I feel comfortable now and hope to ride as long as my body allows it."

Reynolds named Miss Slewpy, J.J.'s Dream and Power Play as outstanding fillies he has ridden, as well as colts Confucius Say and Forry How Cow.

"I won the Delaware Handicap on Power Play for Graham Motion, that was a $350,000 purse, the highest I've won," Reynolds said. "I also won the Maryland Million feature on Forry Cow How and the (West Virginia) Breeders Classic on Confucius Say two straight years."

Pony tales

· The annual Breakfast of Champions, held in conjunction with the West Virginia Breeders Classics, will be held Oct. 9 at 9:30 a.m. at Charles Town.

The head table is expected to include former National Football League standouts Sam Huff, Sonny Jurgensen, Bobby Mitchell, Charley Taylor, Mark Moseley, Brigg Owens and Sonny Randle as well as veteran college and professional coach Pepper Rodgers and Hall of Fame jockey Ron Turcotte - who once rode a horse named Secretariat.

Chris Lincoln of ESPN will be the master of ceremonies.

Tickets are $5 and will be available at the door. The breakfast benfits the WVBC charities.

· Ryan Fogelsonger continued his dominance of the Pimlico summer-fall meet by riding four consecutive winners on Thursday. The 2002 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice scored with Totally Grand, What's Up Lonely, Johns Rush and Torch the Halls.

The 23-year old jockey has eight multiple win days in the first nine days of the meet.

· A look back at the greatest moments in Breeders Cup World Thoroughbred Championships history and a simulated race involving the 19 previous winners of the Breeders Cup Classic will be featured in "20 to 1- The Breeders Cup Legacy" to air today on NBC from 4:30-6 p.m.

The greatest Breeders Cup moments will cover the entire 20-year history of the event and include present-day interviews with key connections as well as vintage footage and interviews from when the "moment" first took place.

· Jerry Bailey's broken wrist is healing well, and the Hall of Fame jockey hopes to be in the saddle in time for the Breeders' Cup on Oct. 30.

Bailey, injured when he fell off a ladder this month while preparing his South Florida home for Hurricane Frances, said he plans on riding again either Oct. 16 or Oct. 23. That would give him enough time to get ready for the Breeders' Cup at Lone Star Park in Texas.

Bailey said the cast was removed from his wrist last week, and he's still undergoing daily rehabilitation.

Bailey, a seven-time Eclipse Award-winner as the nation's top jockey, last rode at Saratoga on Aug. 29.

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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