Sowers keeps busy in his 'interim' role at Charles Town

June 26, 2005|by LARRY YANOS

Despite the "interim" label, acting Charles Town Racing Secretary Duane Sowers has been a busy man since inheriting the job vacated by Jimmy Hammond on June 1.

"It's been very busy," Sowers said from his office at Charles Town Races & Slots.

Penn National Gaming Inc. has yet to name a permanent succesor to Hammond, but the 43-year-old Sowers is more than qualified - based on his involvement with the horse racing industry.

"My father used to train horses in Maryland, and I started out as a hot walker and groom," Sowers said. "I worked for my dad as well as Buddy Delp, John Forbes and others. My dad came here in 1980 and worked in the racing secretary's office."


The younger Sowers was hired by then-racing secretary Elwood Heironimus in 1980 and worked as a stall man, clerk of scales and various other duties of a racing official until leaving in 1987.

"Elwood and Dickie Moore really helped me when I first got started in this business," Sowers said. "I learned a lot from those two gentlemen."

After leaving the industry for five years, Sowers returned to Charles Town in 1992 and again worked in the racing secretary's office. He was named the assistant racing secretary to Hammond in 2001.

"Things have stayed pretty much the same (sine Hammond left)," Sowers said. "He wrote the current condition book right before he left. I have some views on writing races but it's an effort between horsemen and management."

Seven people work in the Charles Town racing secretary's office.

"This is a popular racetrack. It keeps us busy," Sowers said.

'Grand Slam of Grass'

On Saturday, Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va., played host to the inaugural running of the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup.

It was the first leg in a new "Grand Slam of Grass" that offers a $3 million bonus if a horse can sweep the Colonial Turf Cup, the July 16 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs, the Aug. 13 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park and the Oct. 29 John Deere Breeders Cup Turf at Belmont Park.

"The Grand Slam of Grass brings the grandeur, history and thrill of turf racing to the horse racing community and beyond to all Americans, making this truly an instant American Thoroughbred Classic," said Colonial Downs Chairman and CEO Jeff Jacobs.

Top honors

Steve Hamilton, Dale Capuano and Michael Gill took top honors at the recent Pimlico spring meeting.

· Hamilton captured the marquee meet in Maryland for the second straight year, winning 50 races, five more than Luis Garcia. The 31-year-old won at least one race 30 times during the 39-day meet with 19 multiple-win afternoons. He was the only rider in the colony to earn more than $1 million during the stand.

· Capuano won his 11th straight meet at Pimlico, dating back to 2000, saddling 15 winners, two more than Scott Lake, King Leatherbury and Ferris Allen.

It was the 28th meet won by the 42-year-old at the major Maryland tracks - including 14 of the last 15 at Old Hilltop.

· Gill reigned supreme in the owner standings for the 12th straight meet at the major Maryland tracks, finishing first 25 times. The familiar blue colors visited the winner's circle with four different trainers - Tim Hooper (eight) Mark Shuman (eight), Kenny Cox (six) and Gamaliel Vazquez (three).

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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