Casey field crowded at the top

December 10, 2006|by LARRY YANOS

The Charles Town Races & Slots will close the 2006 stakes schedule Saturday with the running of the second annual Eleanor M. Casey Memorial Stakes.

The 6 1/2-furlong race is a $50,000-added event for West Virginia-bred fillies. The race is named in honor of Casey, a long time owner and breeder of thoroughbred horses, who died in 2004.

"There have been 15 horses nominated and three stand out," said Charles Town racing secretary Doug Lamp.

The early list of favorites include: Glorious Appearing, who has earned more than $70,000 this year at Charles Town; Sue's Sweet Girl, who shipped in from New York to win a Breeders Classics race; and Sassy Sheri, who has earned $39,444 lifetime.

The remaining nominations: She Just Might, Disco Sue, Super Sized It, Makin Copy, Good Bye Again, Salony, Vada's Princess, Red Hot Amy, Piesafe, Miss Rhoadesville, Slewsparrow and Villa's Well Noted.


On another issue, Lamp said the West Virginia thoroughbred oval will continue a five-day-a-week live racing schedule through 2006.

"We won't run Christmas Eve or Christmas Day but we'll run New Year's Eve and New Year's Day," Lamp said.

Racing's loss

The Charles Town racing community was saddened late last month with the passing of Joe French, a highly respected jockeys' agent. French, 44, died at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del.

He became a jockey following graduation from Jefferson High School in 1980 but later turned to other areas of the industry.

Over the years, he assisted jockeys at Delaware Park; Laurel Park and Pimlico in Maryland as well as Charles Town.

And he did his job well.

I remember him as a very polite gentleman who always had time for others.

French knew everybody in the business and genuinely cared about his clients. He hustled mounts in the morning, providing his jockeys with some excellent rides come post time.

Memorial donations may be made to Charles Town Race Track Chaplaincy Fund, P.O. Box 1377, Charles Town, W.Va., 25414.

Higher stakes

The American Graded Stakes Committee has released the 2007 schedule, which has upgraded the Allaire DuPont Breeders' Cup Distaff Handicap at the Pimlico from Grade III to Grade II status.

Fourteen of the 474 graded races next year will be run at Pimlico and Laurel Park - including three Grade I races: Preakness Stakes, Pimlico Special and Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash - and 96 of the 107 Grade I races will be run in New York, Southern California or Kentucky.

In addition to the major Maryland tracks, the only other facilities to have the highest rated races are Gulfstream Park (three), Arlington Park (two), Monmouth Park (two) and Calder Race Course (one).

Ten of the state's 14 graded races are carded at Pimlico during Preakness weekend, including six on Maryland's marquee racing day.

The committee reviewed 722 unrestricted U.S. stakes races with a purse of at least $75,000 and assigned graded status to 474 of them, one less than in 2006.

Five races were upgraded to Grade I status for 2007: the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap, Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap and Norfolk Breeders' Cup Stakes at Oak Tree at Santa Anita Park, Del Mar Futurity at Del Mar and Darley Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland.

The Matron Stakes at Belmont Park and Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs were downgraded from Grade I to Grade II for 2007.

Pony tales

Penn National will continue its live thoroughbred racing cards scheduled for three nights per week for the opening of the 2007 thoroughbred season.

Management received approval last week from the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission for a 2007 calendar that allows for the scheduling of a maximum of 227 live racing cards next year.

Penn National will continue its current calendar of racing in the new year with beginning at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. Full-card simulcasting from tracks across the country in Penn National's Paddock Club is offered seven days each week from noon until midnight.

The Maryland Jockey Club announced Thursday that it will host races from South America seven days a week, beginning Dec. 29.

The project was introduced Friday with live races each Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday for a three-week period before launching every day after the Christmas holiday season.

Laurel Park and Pimlico have been the North American hub for live races from Maroas in Uruguay since May 2005.

The agreement between the Magna Entertainment Corp., the majority owner of the Maryland Jockey Club, and Latin American Racing Channel Inc., will include races from Maronas and seven additional racetracks in Argentina, Chile and Per.

On live racing days, the first South American race will begin after the last race is official in Maryland and will end in the 7 o'clock hour.

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. 7520, or by e-mail at

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