Beginning with its live card on August 8, the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races racing program will reap the rewards of a measure earlier this year by the West Virginia legislature that returned a significant amount of money previously allocated to the purse fund in the form of a sizable purse increase.
The bill that originally started as Senate Bill 13 and was passed by the Senate and House of Delegates before being signed into law by Governor Jim Justice returned a chunk of funds originally diverted from the purse fund in the mid 2000's to address the state's struggling workers compensation program.
Based on the proportion of overnight races run thus far in 2019, Charles Town's blended purse increase equates to a hike of slightly more than 17% in the daily distribution of overnight purses.
Maiden Special Weight purses will receive an increase of $4,000 to $27,000 while existing allowance conditions will be augmented by anywhere between 12 and 22 percent. Claiming events will be increased in a similar range of percentages as the allowance ranks. Allowance races going longer than seven furlongs will also carry a $1,000 premium over events run at shorter distances while claiming races going longer than seven furlongs will similarly see purses bumped an additional $500 over those run up to and including that distance.
Additionally, in concert with the purse increase at Charles Town, the Charles Town HBPA and Jockey's Guild have reached an agreement that will bump the losing mount fees to a minimum of $100.
“This is certainly a significant help in bolstering our purse structure which had taken a hit in recent years due to a diminishment in gaming revenues going into it,” said Charles Town's Director of Racing Operations Charlie McIntosh. “We understand it won't happen overnight, but this will unquestionably make the racing program here at Charles Town and racing in West Virginia in general more desirable places to run which we hope in turn leads to a reinvigoration of our product.”
Entries for the first card carrying the increased purses will be taken on Saturday, August 3.
In less than two months, Charles Town will host its second graded stakes event of 2019 as the $300,000 Charles Town Oaks (G3) takes center stage on a card laden with seven stakes races including a quartet of West Virginia bred races that will serve as a prelude to the West Virginia Breeders' Classics coming up on October 12.
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