Charles Town to Launch $1-Million Stakes

The new Charles Town Classic could be $1 million in purse money.

A new stakes worth up to $1 million will be offered next year at Charles Town Races & Slots in West Virginia.

Track officials Sept. 18 announced creation of the Charles Town Classic for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles. The race, scheduled for April 18, will offer a total purse of $1 million to grade I winners in the last two year.

The Classic will have a guaranteed purse of $500,000. A tiered payout structure will offer additional purse money to winners of grade II and grade III stakes.

“We’re still tinkering with the language,” Charles Town racing administrator Erich Zimny said in a statement. “We didn’t want to only allocate additional money to the winner, and thought this was the best approach. Our goal is simple: We want to attract some of the best horses in training by offering them incentives commensurate with their prior achievements.”

Currently, the richest races at Charles Town, which has more than 4,000 video lottery terminals that produce revenue for purses, are the $500,000 West Virginia Breeders Classic and Cavada Breeders Classic for state-bred runners. Earlier this year, the track inaugurated the Sprint Festival (total stakes purses of $500,000) and the Juvenile Showcase ($250,000 in total purses).

The Charles Town Classic, if grade I winners compete, would be one of a handful of $1-million races for older horses at more than one mile, other than Breeders’ Cup events. It would be the only such race in which horses would negotiate three turns for 1 1/8 miles as Charles Town has a three-quarter-mile racing surface.

Officials said the complete 2009 stakes schedule at Charles Town will be submitted to the West Virginia Racing Commission for approval later in 2008.