Charles Town Expands 'Ribbon' Program in 2012

Six Breeders Classics prep handicaps will join five other stakes on Sept. 22 card.

The “Race for the Ribbon” program, one of the big event nights at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, will be expanded this year to serve as a preview of the West Virginia Breeders Classics, track officials said May 11.

The Race for the Ribbon will be held Sept. 22, with the West Virginia Breeders Classics Oct. 20.

The top race on the Race for the Ribbon program is the $400,000 Charles Town Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs. Last year’s race, won by Strike the Moon, included grade I winner Her Smile and second-place finisher Groupie Doll, who this year has won back-to-back grade I stakes in Kentucky.

Other stakes on the program are the $75,000 Miss Shenandoah for 2-year-old fillies at 6 1/2 furlongs; the $70,000 Pink Ribbon fillies and mares at seven furlongs; and two $50,000 events for West Virginia-bred 2-year-olds: the Henry Mercer Memorial and Rachel’s Turn for fillies, both at 4 1/2 furlongs.

There also will be six handicaps for state-bred runners to prepare them for the Breeders Classics. The races previously had been run on other programs.

“We decided to make them handicaps and bundle them into one day rather than spread them out,” director of racing operations Erich Zimny said. “People will be tuning in to watch some of the best 3-year-old filly sprinters in the country, and we hope to expose them to horses they’ll see four weeks later in the West Virginia Breeders Classics.”

The Race for the Ribbon program begins at 6 p.m. EDT, and the Breeders Classics card at 7:15 p.m. The races and purses for the Classics program haven’t been announced.

Charles Town confirmed that announcer Larry Collmus, voice of the Triple Crown, will call the Breeders Classics this year. Dave Johnson has done so for the past 25 years.

Collmus called half of the Charles Town Classic (gr. II) program in April.