Charles Town has expereinced a rocky campaign in 2004 - thanks to the fall shutdown of the racetrack because of the unsafe track conditions - but management and horsemen have reached an agreement to make up some of the lost dates.
The format in November and December will include the standing Wednesday through Sunday schedule with some additional days, including a special New Year's Eve 1 p.m. card.
"Both management and horsemen wanted to make up dates lost and this seemed to be the best way to do it," said Don Combs, executive director of the Charles Town Division/Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.
The additional racing dates will be Monday and Tuesday, along with Nov. 30, Dec. 14, Dec. 20- 21 and Dec. 28.
"They will all be 12-race cards," Combs said. "These new dates will join the regular schedule of live racing. It is a way for the horsemen to get some purse money back which was lost due to the cancelled dates."
Waiting for the jackpot
Like many Marylanders, Cracked Claw Off-Track Betting Parlor proprietor John Poole is anxiously waiting for the Free State to adopt legislation which would allow slot machines.
"I thought it would be a go by now. So did a lot of other folks," Poole said.
If, and when, the state adopts the proper legislation, Poole hopes to add slot machines to his Urbana, Md., facility - the most popular off-track parlor in the state.
"I've been reading about the proposed locations for slot machines, if approved, and we're not being considered at this point," Poole said. "I think the racetracks and probably a location on the Eastern Shore and another in Western Maryland are in the works. The off-track betting parlors probably wouldn't be considered for at least two years."
Although Poole would like to have the Cracked Claw in the first group of eligibility, he just wants to see the slot machine legislation passed.
"Horse racing in Maryland is in serious trouble," Poole said. "They need some type of added revenue, whether it be slots or something else, to survive."
Mario Pino, horse racing's 16th all-time leading rider, broke his right collarbone earlier this month in a spill at Pimlico and will be sidelined for a month. The 43-year-old jockey has 5,458 career wins for purses exceeding $87 million.
· Mountaineer Park will host a special night in honor of trainer Dale Baird, who recently registered his unprecedented 9,000th career win.
The festivities are set for Monday, which will include a hat giveaway, free celebratory cake and an autograph session with Baird.
Post time at the Chester, W.Va., racetrack is 7 p.m.
· Ouija Board, the impressive winner of the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf last month at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas, has been chosen Europe's 2004 Horse of the Year.
The 3-year-old filly won four of five races this year, including the Irish and English Oaks. Ouija Board finished third in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp for her only loss.
A daughter of Cape Cross, Ouija Board is owned by Lord Derby and trained by Ed Dunlop. The filly, also voted the top 3-year-old filly, is expected to remain in training next year.
Bago was voted top 3-year-old colt based on three Group 1 wins, including the Arc.
· Five Eclipse Award hopefuls for the final Grade I steeplechase of the year are entered in today's 2 3/4-mile, 17-fence, $100,000 Marion du Pont Scott Colonial Cup at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C.
Tres Touche, Preemptive Strike, Sur La Tete, Hirapour and McDynamo could all lay claim to Champion Steeplechase Horse honors with a win in the historic race's 35th running. The quintet leads a seven-horse field that also includes Gallant Turk and Imperial Gold.
The complete Colonial Cup field in post position order is: Tres Touche (jockey: Rob Massey); Preemptive Strike (Robbie Walsh); Sur La Tete (Chris Read); Hirapour (Matt McCarron); Gallant Turk (Ted Thompson); Imperial Gold (Tom Foley); and McDynamo (Craig Thornton).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org