At the races

Charles Town reduces purses on some claiming races

Charles Town reduces purses on some claiming races

August 06, 2006|by LARRY YANOS

The purses are dropping at Charles Town Races & Slots.

Charles Town racing secretary Doug Lamp said the higher claiming races and allowance tests will be most affected by the cuts as of the Aug. 2 condition book.

"We didn't touch the $4,000 and $6,000 claiming races but the $7,500 claimer through the allowance will face some cuts, anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 per race," Lamp said.

The racing secretary said it was an economic move approved by both management and the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

"The reason is the underpayment," Lamp said. "There is only $900,000 in the horsemen's account now and we felt it was best to make a move now before getting to a critical point. It's almost like preventive medicine."


Lamp says the live racing handle is down and the slot numbers are soft - all cutting into the money flow.

In July, both management and horsemen decided to trim the stakes schedule and it is being followed by trimming the purse structure.

"We've been running a lot of allowance races this year," Lamp said. "We won't cut out the allowance races, we'll just be more selective and monitor things very closely. Things could change with the next condition book."

Lamp said management and horsemen felt it was better to trim the purses than to cut race days or number of races.

According to Lamp, the bottom purse is still $9,000 for a $4,000 claiming race and an open allowance race will offer a purse as high as $35,000.

Procreate scores win

Procreate earned his first win of the 2006 season in front-running style Thursday night when he captured the 34th running of the $50,000 Pennsylvania Governor's Cup Handicap at Penn National.

The 8-year-old gelding, ridden by Anna Napravnik, ran 5 furlongs over the grass in 55.46 seconds to defeat Southern Missile by almost two lengths.

Last year, Procreate set the world record for the distance when he posted a 5-length victory in 53.79 in the Yankee Affair Stakes at Gulfstream Park (Fla.).

Procreate broke alertly from post 10 and Napravnik realized that nobody was going to run early with her horse.

"He cleared the field before we hit the turn and right then I felt good about our chances," she said. "When we turned for home, he was still pretty comfortable and I guess he just felt like running tonight."

Southern Missile made a late run from sixth to get second for trainer Scott Lake.

Pisgah, the 2-1 favorite who also is trained by Lake, got shuffled back on the turn and finished fast but lost a photo for third money to Who's Bluffing.

Procreate finished fourth as the favorite in last year's Governor's Cup when the late John Zimmerman trained him. Owners Harry Nye and Thomas McClay gave him to Michael Tromebetta for this 2006 campaign.

The winner's check of $30,000 raised Procreate's lifetime earnings to $327,154.

Get out of the kitchen

Some like it hot, but not this hot.

With the heat index reaching the 110-degree mark last week through much of the country, life has been miserable outdoors.

And thoroughbred race horses also are feeling the heat.

Conditions were so difficult last Wednesday that racing officials at Saratoga (N.Y.) cancelled the entire race card for the afternoon.

"We are monitoring the situation carefully and have decided to continue to run our regular schedule," Lamp said. "We run in the evenings and that helps compared to a track like Saratoga. The entries have held up and we have not had any horses in distress."

It was the first full-card cancellation in the 138-year history of Saratoga.

Officials from the New York Racing Association called off the nine-race card shortly after 8 a.m., after consulting with Dr. Anthony Verderosa, the chief examining veterinarian for NYRA, and after a brief meeting with several jockeys and trainers.

"Even though this was unprecedented and very costly for NYRA, this was in the best interest of the horse, which is what my job is, and the best interest of the people on top of him - not to mention in the best interest of the people who were going to come watch them today," Verderosa said.

A typical Wednesday in August would have drawn about 16,000 fans to the track and resulted in total handle of about $12 million.

Pony tales

Today is Owners Day at Charles Town and the impressive 10-race card will include four tests for West Virginia-accredited horses.

Originally scheduled as $50,000-added events, due to purse constraints alongside stakes cancellations, the races will now be worth $35,000 a piece.

On July 30, Charles Town-based jockey Gerald Almodovar recorded his 500th career win. Almodovar captured the overall jockeys' title at the West Virginia thoroughbred oval in 2005 (232 wins) and is being pressed by Travis Dunkelberger for the lead in 2006.

The native of Puerto Rico, Almodovar decided to give Charles Town a look when he came to the United States. He started at Charles Town on Jan. 6, 2004.

The $750,000 West Virginia Derby will be contested today at Mountaineer Park. It drew a field of 12 3-year-olds - including trainer Bob Baffert's Wanna Runner.

High Finance, who won two in a row before finishing 10th in the Belmont Stakes, also is in the field.

Eight weeks after the Belmont Stakes, Bluegrass Cat makes his first start in today's $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park (N.J.). The colt is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in a field of nine 3-year-olds.

Bluegrass Cat will face top-notch competition from Strong Contender and Deputy Glitters.

Also set for the 1 1/8-mile Grade 1 Haskell are Flashy Bull, Praying for Cash, Awfully Smart, Electrify, Little Cliff and Victory Lake.

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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