Charles Town Races & Slots will offer purse incentives in certain races with seven or more starters effective June 6 in an effort to increase field size.
Fields at the West Virginia track are limited to 10 starters because of the configuration of the racing surface. Charles Town has a three-quarter-mile track with two chutes.
The races that qualify for the extra cash are allowance events, including starter allowance races and optional claiming allowance races, as well as open claiming races with a claiming price of $16,000 or $12,500. Maiden special weight races aren’t part of the incentive scheme, officials said.
For each horse above six starters, purses will increase $1,000. So the maximum increase will be $4,000.
Under the plan, $200 will go to each horse finishing seventh through 10th, while $800 will be added to the published purse and paid out accordingly to the top six finishers. The $200 purse incentive will be paid in addition to the $100 currently paid to horses finishing seventh through 10th at Charles Town.
“We’re in a competitive location geographically, and in a competitive time on the calendar,” Charles Town racing secretary Randy Wehrman said in a statement. “We’re taking a step to reward horsemen who help us to drive both quality and field size.”
Charles Town officials said they will study the impact of the purse incentive plan on a monthly basis to determine whether it should continue.
Charles Town has more than 5,000 video lottery terminals, revenue from which goes to purses and breed development programs.
So far this year, purses at Charles Town have averaged $164,237 per day, with average field size at 8.49 (101 programs through May 31). The figures are higher than last year for the same number of programs—average purses of $154,614, and average field size of 8.35.
Though Maryland racing ended May 23 for a few months, Colonial Downs opens June 5. The Virginia track offers a large percentage of turf races and attracts horses from Charles Town.