From a Charles Town release

Imagine what he might have done with a full year of work.

Despite missing the final three months of the year with an injury, jockey Jose Montano was able to defend his 2012 riding title by posting 195 wins, 38 more than runner-up J.D. Acosta.  In January, Montano became the first Charles Town based recipient of an Eclipse Award when he was named the top apprentice rider in the country for 2012.  2013 was proving to be even more successful for Montano as his 856 mounts earned a total of $3,040,014 prior to him suffering his injury on October 2.  Those purse earnings also allowed Montano to shade Acosta for the earnings title at the meet by less than $17,000.

Another Charles Town stalwart once again found himself atop the trainer standings.  For the eighth consecutive year, Jeff Runco led all Charles Town trainers, saddling 138 winners at the track in 2013. In addition to topping the list at Charles Town, Runco’s 2013 campaign will enable him to finish amongst the country’s top 25 trainers in wins for the sixth straight year and moved him within 16 wins of cracking the top 20 on the all-time list of winningest thoroughbred trainers in the history of North American racing.  Ronney Brown finished second with 79 victories.

On April 20, Charles Town hosted fifth running of the Charles Town Classic.  With its $1.5 million purse for 2013, the Charles Town Classic entered some rarified air as the richest thoroughbred race in the country outside of the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup.

The $1.5 million purse and $1 million winner’s share was enough to lure handicap division star Game on Dude out from his home base in California to take a second crack at winning the Charles Town Classic.  Much like he did prior to his runner-up effort in 2011, Game on Dude came into West Virginia’s most lucrative race off a victory in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap – this time taking the prestigious Big ‘Cap in a record setting 7 ¾ length romp.  Facing a field that included multiple Grade 1 winner Ron the Greek, defending race winner Caixa Eletronica and Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Clubhouse Ride, the popular gelding was able to redeem his 2011 defeat, by winning the Charles Town Classic by a half-length and giving trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith their first ever wins at Charles Town in the process.  In addition to Charles Town Classic day itself setting a new track record for handle on a single card, the Classic itself also set a single race benchmark for the track, as a total of $1,286,188 was bet through the windows.

Charles Town also hosted the country’s second richest sprint for three-year-old fillies in 2013 as the $400,000 Charles Town Oaks served as the co-feature on the fifth Race for the Ribbon card.  The Oaks lineup was headed by Maggi Moss’ Grade 1 winner So Many Ways, trained by Tom Amoss.  In what would be her final career start, the favored So Many Ways didn’t disappoint as she closed from mid-pack to take the lead in the final sixteenth of a mile and drew off to a 2 ¾ length triumph over R Free Roll.

Race for the Ribbon day was punctuated by a series of events to help raise money for breast cancer care and research, with more than $12,000 ultimately raised for the West Virginia Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Foundation.

West Virginia Breeders’ Classics XXVII took place on October 19.  In the featured event, the $500,000 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic, heavily favored and defending champion Lucy’s Bob Boy squared off against Russell Road, himself a two-time winner of the race.  However, when all was said and done, Edward Krishack’s Fred High posted a late running upset, nipping Russell Road at the wire and giving trainer John Robb his first win in a West Virginia Breeders’ Classics race.  All told, Breeders’ Classics XXVII included 9 races worth more than $1.1 million in purse money.

As the year drew to a close at Charles Town, the track announced its plans for 2013, which not only included 220 live racing days, but again includes the $1,500,000 Charles Town Classic and the Charles Town Oaks which, in addition to joining the Test as the richest race in its division with a purse increase to $500,000, will be track’s second graded stakes after being designated a Grade 3 in December. Charles Town Classic day is scheduled for April 19, while the Race for the Ribbon is slated for September 20.  The third of the track’s event days, West Virginia Breeders’ Classics XXVIII, is tentatively scheduled for October 18.

Charles Town’s 2013 racing season kicks off on Tuesday, January 2, with post time for the first race scheduled for 7:15pm EST.

(Featured image by Coady Photography.)