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At age 90, Askin adds to winning total

AT THE RACES --

September 22, 2008|By LARRY YANOS

After 44 years involvement with thoroughbred horse racing, Bernie Askin has decided to leave the game.

Askin, who celebrated his 90th birthday Sunday, says that many years in the business was long enough.

"I had a great experience but it's time to step aside," the Charles Town, W. Va., resident said.

For the last 23 years, Askin has been a jockeys' agent at the Charles Town Races & Slots. Prior to that, he served as a trainer.

"I've seen it all," Askin laughed. "You could write a book on some of the things I've come across."

Askin started his involvement with the thoroughbred horse racing industry in 1964 at the West Virginia thoroughbred oval.

"I was a trainer -- me and a buddy claimed a horse in 1964 -- and then I switched and became a jockeys' agent in 1985," Askin said. "I started out with a guy named Rex Faris and then I switched to Moreno. He could really ride. He won many riding titles at Charles Town and once won six races with seven mounts."

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The veteran horseman has seen the good, the bad and the ugly at Charles Town.

"I've seen a lot of changes," Askin said. "You can make a good living here now. Before, if you won five races you were still in a hole, now things are different. I would still like to see more money stay at Charles Town. Trainers and owners are coming from everywhere and winning races. The game is not the same, though, and there's a lot of jealousy these days."

Earlier in his life, Askin was a newspaper distributor for the Washington Post and often sold the product at Charles Town.

"I liked the job but the bosses and I didn't always see eye to eye," Askin said. "I was looking for something else and decided on the horses. I have no regrets."

Before entering full-time employment, the Washington native played sports in high school and college and also taught for one year.

"I also worked for the Boys' Club in the D.C. area. I really enjoyed teaching and coaching," Askin said. "To this day, I follow practically all sports and I go over and watch the Jefferson (High School) football team practice as often as I can."

Askin's family includes daughters "Derby" and Barbara and son Steve.

PONY TALES:

o Curlin will get his chance to become thoroughbred racing's richest horse next Saturday when he competes in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park in New York.

The 2007 Horse of the Year, fresh from a victory in the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga in upstate New York, has earned $9,796,800 with 10 wins in 13 career starts.

The record of $9,999,815 is held by Cigar.

The Gold Cup carries a winner's purse of $450,000. The 4-year-old Curlin won last year's edition and would be the first to win the race in consecutive years since Skip Away in 1996-1997.

o According to the Blood-Horse, The Green Monkey -- whose $16 million price is the highest ever for a horse sold at public auction -- will begin his stallion career for a fee of $5,000 in 2009.

He will stand at Randy Hartley and Dean De Renzo's Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds near Ocala, Fla.

Bred in Florida by Satish and Anne Sanan's Padua Stables, The Green Monkey was bought for $16 million by Demi O'Byrne of Irish-based Coolmore Stud from Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds, agent, at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton Florida February sale of 2-year-olds in training.

The Green Monkey raced three times, finishing third once and fourth twice, for Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith. He was retired from racing this year.

o Millsboro, Delaware Mayor Larry Gum says a developer is hoping to build a harness racing track in his town.

The Rehoboth Beach-based developer, Del Pointe, has not submitted an official application yet.

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