Open Stakes at Charles Town Worth $2.7M

Charles Town Races & Slots will offer a record open-stakes schedule in 2009.

Charles Town Races & Slots has announced a 2009 open stakes schedule with a record $2.7 million available in purses. The 12 scheduled stakes will take place on three special event days, beginning April 18 with Charles Town Classic Day.

The schedule of stakes restricted to West Virginia-bred horses will be released at a later date, as will details of the West Virginia Breeders Classics, which in 2008 offered $1.875 million in stakes.

The highlight of the first Charles Town Classic Day card will be the inaugural running of the Charles Town Classic, at 1 1/8 miles for 4-year-olds and up. The Classic, with $1 million in potential purse money, will be the richest race ever run around three turns.

Charles Town has a three-quarter-mile racing surface with short chutes, so 1 1/8 mile races start on the backstretch. Six-and-a-half and seven-furlong events are raced around two turns.

Plans for the Classic were first announced in 2008.

Using a tiered purse structure, the Charles Town Classic will have a guaranteed purse of $500,000. Grade I winners will run for the full $1 million, grade II winners will compete for $750,000, and grade III winners will go for $600,000. Charles Town Classic Day will include the $250,000 Sugar Maple for fillies and mares at seven furlongs.

The second Charles Town Races & Slots Sprint Festival is set for June 20. Highlighting the Sprint Festival card will be the $250,000 Charles Town Invitational Dash, the richest 4 1/2- furlong race in the United States. That card will include the $250,000 Red Legend Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.

The Aug. 15 event program will offer the first $250,000 Charles Town Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs. Also on the card will be two 2-year-olds stakes: the $100,000 Charles Town Juvenile at seven furlongs and the $100,000 Miss Shenandoah at 4 1/2 furlongs.

“We’re incredibly excited about putting on a show like this for the local and national racing fans,” Charles Town racing administrator Erich Zimny said in a statement. “After the state-bred stakes are factored in, we will have four separate days offering $600,000 or more in stakes purses. By our count, the only tracks that happened at in 2008 were Keeneland, Saratoga, Belmont, Santa Anita, Hollywood, and Calder. That’s lofty company to be keeping.”

Officials said they expect to have about $35 million in purse funds available in 2009 via revenue from on-track video lottery terminals. Charles Town in the fall of 2008 opened a hotel just past the backstretch near the far turn.

Other stakes scheduled for the three big-event days are the $100,000 Blue & Gold Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, and the $100,000 Webb Snyder Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at 4 1/2 furlongs, on April 18; the $100,000 Lady Charles Town for 3-year-old fillies at 4 1/2 furlongs, and the $100,000 Wild and Wonderful for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs June 20; and the $100,000 West Virginia Sprint Derby for 3-year-olds at 4 1/2 furlongs Aug. 15.