Abundance of horses pays off


August 31, 2008|By LARRY YANOS

Despite a 10-horse starting gate, a 12-4 exacta is, indeed, possible these days at Charles Town Races & Slots.

Richard Moore, the director of racing at the West Virginia thoroughbred oval, offered an explanation.

"When a race is drawn, any number of horses can be entered as long as they have the proper qualifications," Moore said. "Ten horses would be the maximum starting field, but horses referred to as 'alternates' would also be considered in an event of scratches."

The thoroughbreds are assigned post positions and other horses are drawn into the race pending any scratches. Therefore, the 11-horse would enter the No. 10 post position, etc.

"It doesn't happen too often," Moore said.

He said the current format is rare in the horse racing industry.

"We have the luxury here of having an abundance of horses wanting to run," Moore said. "Many tracks throughout the country are having problems getting full fields, let alone an excess number of horses for each race."


Moore says very rarely does a trainer scratch a horse.

Gomez's big weekend

Last weekend, veteran jockey Garrett Gomez went coast-to-coast and won two $1 million races -- by the narrowest of margins.

On Saturday, he guided Colonel John to victory in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in New York, beating Mambo in Seattle in a photo finish.

Colonel John ran 1 1/4 miles in 2 minutes, 3.20 seconds. Colonel John had not won a race since taking the Santa Anita Derby in April and finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby.

Pyro, the favorite, finished third in the race for 3-year-olds.

On Sunday, Gomez rode Go Between to victory at the Pacific Classic at Del Mar near San Diego, prevailing by a neck after a long stretch battle with Well Armed.

The 5-year-old thoroughbred ran 1 1?4 miles in 2 minutes, 1.18 seconds. Mast Track was third. The win gave Go Between an automatic spot in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Fall at Laurel Park

The Laurel Park fall stakes schedule has been approved by the Maryland State Racing Commission.

Earlier in the month, the Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association agreed to eliminate all the open stakes races for the fall meeting, including the Grade I Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash.

Because of the reductions, the 2008 fall stakes program only includes 11 $50,000 state-bred stakes races and the 12 races on Maryland Million Day, a day of races restricted to the offspring of Maryland-based stallions only.

The 23 stakes races will total $2.23 million.

Last year the fall campaign featured 32 stakes races for $3.285 million. Two years ago, the meet included 43 added money races for $4.725 million.

The 65-day fall meeting begins Thursday and is headlined by the 23rd annual Maryland Million on Oct. 4, with purses of nearly $1.7 million.

The 17-week fall meeting features live racing on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons (with Columbus holiday exception) through Dec. 27.

Larry Yanos covers horse racing for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

The Herald-Mail Articles