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Charles Town to feature program for juveniles

August 17, 2008|By LARRY YANOS

Charles Town Races & Slots will hold its inaugural Juvenile Showcase on Saturday.

"The sprint festival earlier in the year attracted prominent owners and trainers from throughout the country and we're hoping for the same type of response with the Juvenile Showcase," Charles Town racing administrator Erich Zimny said. "It should include a strong field of horses."

Zimmy said 98 horses have been nominated to Saturday's four stakes races. Entries will be drawn Wednesday.

Since races are restricted to 10 horses, preference will be given to career earnings.

The card will include the $100,000 Charles Town Juvenile for two-year-olds and the $100,000 Miss Shenandoah for two-year-old fillies as well as the $50,000 Rachel's Turn Stakes for West Virginia accredited two-year-old fillies and the $50,000 Frank Gall Memorial for West Virginia accredited three-year-olds.

"Trainers the caliber of Steve Asmussen and California conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer have expressed interest in the races," Zimmy said.

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Nominations for the 4 1/2-furlong Charles Town Juvenile are headlined by Asmussen-trained Valiancy, an impressive maiden winner at Saratoga in his first career start on July 31.

Valiancy's owner, Padua Stables, also captured the Red Legend Stakes in the Charles Town Sprint Festival on June 21 with their homebred colt, Devereux. The undefeated My Dominick James, out of Larry Rivelli's barn, nominates following a score in the July 5 Prairie Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows.

They are joined by Tim Salzman's Essenceofthemoon, who recently returned to the winners' circle in a Delaware Park allowance race following two unsuccessful stakes tries at Belmont Park and Churchill Downs.

The local hopes will likely be pinned to Herb's Fiddle, trained by Charles Town conditioner Ollie Figgins III. Herb's Fiddle won his debut impressively in front running style earlier this month.

A deep field of two-year-old fillies will be on tap in the 4 1/2-furlong Miss Shenandoah.

Once again, Padua and Asmussen appear to have a strong hand with Vindy as well as A Day for Dancing and Shining Moment, who both just missed in their recent stakes efforts.

Hollendorfer, a perennial leading conditioner in California, nominated Broadway Hennessey who comes off a recent stakes score in the Wine Country Juvenile Fillies at Santa Rosa.

Broadway Hennessey also set the track record for 4 1/2 furlongs at Golden Gate in her debut on June 14.

Also nominated is the New Jersey-bred Love That Dance, who was by beaten 5 1/2 lengths in the Colleen Stakes at Monmouth Park earlier this month.

Love That Dance's connections, owner John Petrini and Ben Perkins, Jr., teamed up to take the Charles Town Invitational Dash this year with Joey P.

All four stakes races will be part of a Pick Four, comprosed of the fifth through eight races.

Racing cutbacks

Racing is about to be streamlined at Laurel Park.

The Maryland Jockey Club and the Maryland Thoroghbred Horsemen's Association have agreed to trim the stakes schedule for Laurel Park's fall season because of a shortfall in the purse accounts, according to Jockey Club vice president-communications Mike Gathagan.

The cutback will include the Grade I Frank J. De Francis Dash.

The only stakes races on the calendar will be a state-bred or state sired stakes, headlined by the 23rd running of the Maryland Million on Oct. 4.

The $300,000 De Francis Dash is one of just three Grade I races contested in Maryland, along with the Preakness Stakes and the Pimlico Special.

The De Francis Dash, which was introduced in 1990, is one of the elite 6-furlong sprints in the country with four of the 17 winners - Housebuster (1991), Cherokee Run (1994), Smoke Glacken (1997) and Thor's Echo (2006) - earning Eclipse Award honors for champion sprinter.

Other races eliminated include the Laurel Futurity and Selima Stakes - marquee races for two-year-olds - and the Grade III Safely Kept Stakes.

The Laurel's 17-week fall meeting runs from Sept. 4 through Dec. 27 on a four-day-a-week schedule (Wednesday through Saturday, except for the Columbus Day holiday).

An official stakes schedule for the 65-day stand will be released after the Tuesday's Maryland Racing Commission meeting.

Pony Tales

Charles Town Races & Slots will continue its four-day-a-week racing schedule from now through October.

The West Virginia thoroughbred oval will conduct live racing on Sunday afternoon and Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

Maryland Jockey Club officials said Pimlico will be closed for training and stabling, effective Aug. 31.

Racing secretary Georganne Hale will relocate trainers to barns at Laurel Park and the Bowie Training Center. Horses that are assigned stalls at Laurel or Bowie will be shipped to those facilities at the expense of the Maryland Jockey Club.

Pimlico, which will remain open for simulcasting and live racing, will return to Old Hilltop next April.

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