Charles Town Caps Successful 80th Anniversary Season

by | 12.29.2013 | 10:47am
Charles Town Races in West Virginia

In addition to celebrating its 80th racing season at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races saw the United States' richest thoroughbred race outside of the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup held over its oval, the track earn its second graded stakes in December, a late closing finish by Fred High to deny Russell Road a third West Virginia Breeders' Classic, the first ever Eclipse Award earned by an individual or horse based in West Virginia's eastern panhandle and the first ever Grade 1 score by a Charles Town based trainer when Ollie Figgins, III saddled Dance to Bristol to a victory in the Ballerina at Saratoga.

After the final day of live racing for 2013 was completed on the evening of December 28, those highlights were key drivers in Charles Town ultimately producing an average daily all-sources handle number of $992,368 – which includes all completed live racing programs – that represented the second highest annual total in the track's aforementioned 80 year history, just missing the record number of $1,001,938 set the previous year. Charles Town had actually been seeking a record for annual handle for the third consecutive year, but fell short by less than one percentage point.

Additionally, each of Charles Town's three event days in 2013 – Charles Town Classic day in April, the Race for the Ribbon card in September and October's West Virginia Breeders' Classics – produced a record wagering total for the event. The Charles Town Classic card set an all-sources handle record with $4,398,985 in wagering, besting the prior mark of $3,441,632 set on Charles Town Classic day in 2012. In September, the Race for the Ribbon program became the first non Classic day card to handle at least $2 million as fans bet $2,225,355 on the program that featured 7 stakes races. West Virginia Breeders' Classics XXVII saw $1,576,267 wagered, which narrowly shaded the prior record of $1,526,419, set in 2010.

The full list of all-time pari-mutuel marks set in 2013 includes:
• Consecutive live cards handling $1,000,000 or more (26 – 2/5/13 to 3/14/13)
• Highest average daily all-sources handle in a single month (April 2013 – $1,365,857)
• Highest average daily export handle in a single month (April 2013 – $1,309,629)
• Highest single card export handle (April 20 – $ $4,066,108)
• Highest single card all-sources handle (April 20 – $4,398,985)
• Highest single race handle (April 20, Charles Town Classic – $1,286,188)
• Largest WPS pool (April 20, Charles Town Classic – $599,518)
• Largest Pick 4 pool (April 20 – $215,491)

All told, average daily handle at Charles Town has grown 28.92% between 2009 and 2013.

“To have the second most successful wagering year at a track around for more than three-quarters of a century, the top handicap horse in the country at the time here in April to compete in one of the country's richest races, a second graded stakes granted to us in December, a rider based here win an Eclipse Award and a local trainer come within a Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint win of training a champion,speaks volumes of how far we've come as a track,” said Vice President of Racing Operations Erich Zimny. “Most of all, I'm incredibly proud of all the hard work the entire team at Charles Town has put forth to make it happen. We'll do our best to continue it in 2014.”

Despite missing the final three months of the year with an injury, jockey Jose Montano was able to defend his 2012 riding title by posting 195 wins, 38 more than runner-up J.D. Acosta. In January, Montano became the first Charles Town based recipient of an Eclipse Award when he was named the top apprentice rider in the country for 2012. 2013 was proving to be even more successful for Montano as his 856 mounts earned a total of $3,040,014 prior to him suffering his injury on October 2. Those purse earnings also allowed Montano to shade Acosta for the earnings title at the meet by less than $17,000.

For the eighth consecutive year, Jeff Runco found himself on top of Charles Town's trainer standings, saddling 138 winners at the track in 2013. In addition to topping the list at Charles Town, Runco's 2013 campaign will enable him to finish amongst the country's top 25 trainers in wins for the sixth straight year and moved him within 16 wins of cracking the top 20 on the all-time list of winningest thoroughbred trainers in the history of North American racing. Ronney Brown finished second with 79 victories.

On April 20, Charles Town hosted fifth running of the Charles Town Classic. With its $1.5 million purse for 2013, the Charles Town Classic entered some rarified air as the richest thoroughbred race in the country outside of the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup.

The $1.5 million purse and $1 million winner's share was enough to lure handicap division star Game on Dude out from his home base in California to take a second crack at winning the Charles Town Classic. Much like he did prior to his runner-up effort in 2011, Game on Dude came into West Virginia's most lucrative race off a victory in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap – this time taking the prestigious Big 'Cap in a record setting 7 3/4 length romp. Facing a field that included multiple Grade 1 winner Ron the Greek, defending race winner Caixa Eletronica and Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Clubhouse Ride, the popular gelding was able to redeem his 2011 defeat, by winning the Charles Town Classic by a half-length and giving trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith their first ever wins at Charles Town in the process. In addition to Charles Town Classic day itself setting a new track record for handle on a single card, the Classic itself also set a single race benchmark for the track, as a total of $1,286,188 was bet through the windows.

Charles Town also hosted the country's second richest sprint for three-year-old fillies in 2013 as the $400,000 Charles Town Oaks served as the co-feature on the fifth Race for the Ribbon card. The Oaks lineup was headed by Maggi Moss' Grade 1 winner So Many Ways, trained by Tom Amoss. In what would be her final career start, the favored So Many Ways didn't disappoint as she closed from mid-pack to take the lead in the final sixteenth of a mile and drew off to a 2 3/4 length triumph over R Free Roll.

Race for the Ribbon day was punctuated by a series of events to help raise money for breast cancer care and research, with more than $12,000 ultimately raised for the West Virginia Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Foundation.

West Virginia Breeders' Classics XXVII took place on October 19. In the featured event, the $500,000 West Virginia Breeders' Classic, heavily favored and defending champion Lucy's Bob Boy squared off against Russell Road, himself a two-time winner of the race. However, when all was said and done, Edward Krishack's Fred High posted a late running upset, nipping Russell Road at the wire and giving trainer John Robb his first win in a West Virginia Breeders' Classics race. All told, Breeders' Classics XXVII included 9 races worth more than $1.1 million in purse money.

As the year drew to a close at Charles Town, the track announced its plans for 2013, which not only included 220 live racing days, but again includes the $1,500,000 Charles Town Classic and the Charles Town Oaks which, in addition to joining the Test as the richest race in its division with a purse increase to $500,000, will be track's second graded stakes after being designated a Grade 3 in December. Charles Town Classic day is scheduled for April 19, while the Race for the Ribbon is slated for September 20. The third of the track's event days, West Virginia Breeders' Classics XXVIII, is tentatively scheduled for October 18.

Charles Town's 2013 racing season kicks off on Tuesday, January 2, with post time for the first race scheduled for 7:15pm EST.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO AT CHARLES TOWN RACES YEAR-END STATISTICAL RECAP

2013 HANDLE*

 .                                                   2013                2012                Diff. ($)                Diff. (%)
Avg. Daily Live Handle**             $49,479           $54,025           ($4,546)               -8.41%
Avg. Daily Export Handle**         $942,889         $948,250         ($5,361)               -0.57%
Avg. Daily All-Sources Handle**  $992,368         $1,001,938      ($9,570)               -0.96%

.                                                    2013                2012                Diff. ($)                 Diff. (%)
Gross Live Handle***                $10,788,892    $12,281,319    ($1,492,427)        -12.15%
Gross Export Handle***             $206,399,078  $215,454,197  ($9,055,119)        -4.20%
Gross All-Sources Handle***     $217,187,970   $227,660,327  ($10,472,357)      -4.60%

* Preliminary, unaudited totals
** Only includes full, completed live racing programs
*** Includes all partial, live racing programs

2013 LEADERS BY WINS

HORSES                             JOCKEYS                       TRAINERS
T1. Fan Demon 7                1. Jose Montano 195       1. Jeff Runco 138
T1. Lucy's Bob Boy 7           2. J.D. Acosta 157           2. Ronney Brown 79
T1. Thanksforthedrink 7      3. Gerald Almodovar 114 3. Kevin Patterson 55
T4. Aarons Castle 6            4. Antonio Lopez 94         4. Ollie Figgins, III 52
T4. Candle of Gold 6           5. Erik Ramirez 86            T5. Ernest Haynes 49
T4. Dr. Funkenstein 6         6. Arnaldo Bocachica 80   T5. Hugh McMahon 49
T4. Exclusive Storm 6         7. Matt McGowan 77         7. David Walters 35
T4. Snub 6                          8. Luis Batista 72              8. Stephanie Beattie 33
T9. 7 Tied 5                        9. Clifford Dooley 70          T9. 3 Tied 32
.                                          10. Carlos Castro 69

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