With its 2019 racing season drawing to a close, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races finalized plans for its 2020 meet following approval of both its full, live racing calendar and stakes schedule at the West Virginia Racing Commission's December meeting held Tuesday morning.
The track's 2020 calendar calls for a total of 173 live days running from January 8 through December 31 with live racing typically conducted on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the first four months of the year as well as from the final week in October until year's end and live programs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday's the remainder of 2020. A pair of Sunday matinee cards also make an appearance on the 2020 schedule with live racing slated to take place on May 10 (Mother's Day) and June 21 (Father's Day).
Post time for the first race on Charles Town's cards will remain its standard 7:00 p.m. ET start time with the exception of Charles Town Classic day on April 18 which gets underway at 12:30 p.m. ET, Race for the Ribbon day on September 19 kicking off at 5:00 p.m. ET and the aforementioned Sunday cards as well as December 31 (New Year's Eve) also getting started at 12:30 p.m. ET.
As usual, Charles Town's marquee race, the $1,000,000 Charles Town Classic (G2) headlines the Charles Town stakes schedule and will see its 12th renewal on April 18. In 2019, the race was won for the first time by a West Virginia bred as Grams' Racing's Runnin'toluvya scored an immensely popular victory with the local contingent besting Diamond King by a half-length. Eight other stakes will accompany the Charles Town Classic on April 18.
The track's second event day will be held on September 19 when sophomore fillies take center stage in the $300,000 Charles Town Oaks (G3) which leads a Race for the Ribbon program containing seven stakes. Three weeks later, all eyes will be on the track's locally bred stars as West Virginia Breeders' Classics XXXIV will be held on October 10.
While purses for the Charles Town Classic and Charles Town Oaks remained static, other stakes purses did see an increase in 2020. The Russell Road to be run on April 18 and Misty Bennett Pink Ribbon on Race for the Ribbon day each received a purse increase of $25,000 to $100,000, while the Dance to Bristol received an increase of $50,000 to $150,000. A new race – the $100,000 Book Review for three-year-old fillies, named after Gary and Mary West's Grade 1 and 2012 Charles Town Oaks winning heroine – will be run for the first time on Charles Town Classic day.
Additionally, Charles Town will partake in the region's MATCH series for the first time since its 2018 revival in 2020 with the Dance to Bristol, Robert Hilton Memorial and Russell Road – all to be run on the April 18 Classic card – scheduled to be included in the series.
West Virginia accredited stakes were also the beneficiary of 2020 increases, with restricted stakes outside of the West Virginia Breeders' Classics program and the added-money West Virginia Futurity all seeing their purse increased from $50,000 to $75,000 for the new year. Purses for the 2020 West Virginia Breeders' Classics are expected to be released in the coming months.
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