From a Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races release
With the $1,500,000 Charles Town Classic (G2) on tap three weeks from this upcoming Saturday, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course and Zia Park Racetrack & Casino have reached an agreement to partner once again with HRTV, The Network for Horse Sports, to provide coverage of the remaining five events in the Penn Gaming Racing Challenge as well as the West Virginia Breeders’ Classics. Similar to what the network aired for the events the previous seven years, HRTV will provide coverage, complete with in-studio commentary and analysis by network talent for each of the six event days.
“The last eight years has produced a partnership between HRTV and the Penn National Gaming tracks that’s turned into a staple of our event day coverage,” said Erich Zimny, Vice President of Racing for Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. “Starting out as coverage of a single event with less than $700,000 in purses back in 2008 and growing into year-round coverage of events spanning multiple tracks worth in excess of $5 million in purse money is a testament to the mutual benefits the relationship has provided.”
“The Charles Town Classic has grown into a premier racing event,” said Bhavesh Patel, TVG Senior Vice President for Television Operations and Marketing. “We are pleased to offer the Charles Town Classic, together with the other races in the Penn Gaming Racing Challenge, to our national audience of racing enthusiasts. We are confident this series will deliver exciting racing action.”
The first of the events arrives on April 18 with the seventh running of the Charles Town Classic. With a purse of $1,500,000, the Charles Town Classic again stands as the richest thoroughbred race in the United States outside of the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup. The prospective field is currently headlined by Shared Belief, the top rated horse in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings. The 2014 Charles Town Classic saw Game on Dude’s bid to become the second two-time winner of the race and top John Henry as the all-time money earner among geldings in the process come up short when he was defeated by 26-to-1 longshot Imperative. In addition to the Charles Town Classic, the program on April 18 will also feature the $150,000 Sugar Maple presented by CANTER Mid-Atlantic, the $100,000 Robert Hilton Memorial and a quartet of stakes races for West Virginia-breds.
The Charles Town Classic will be run during the day for the first time and carries a 12:45pm EST first post with the Classic itself scheduled to go off at approximately 6:00pm.
The $500,000 Penn Mile (G3) – the newest race in the Penn Gaming Racing Challenge granted graded status – will be run for the third time on May 30 as part of a card that also includes the $200,000 Mountainview Handicap, $150,000 Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup and $100,000 Penn Oaks. HRTV has covered the first two Penn Mile cards, which have accounted for the top two single-day pari-mutuel handles in track history. Last year’s Penn Mile was captured by eventual Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner Bobby’s Kitten.
The first race on Penn Mile day is scheduled at Penn’s standard first post of 6:00 p.m. EST.
Following the Penn Mile, sophomore fillies take center stage on Charles Town’s Race for the Ribbon program on September 19 as the $350,000 Charles Town Oaks (G3) is run for the seventh time. Having been won in previous years by Grade 1 winners So Many Ways and Book Review and in 2011 by Strike the Moon over eventual two-time Eclipse Award winner Groupie Doll, the Charles Town Oaks was most recently captured by the now retired Miss Behaviour, who dominated her competition on the way to a 9 3/4 length triumph. Additionally, the card includes a pair of $100,000 stakes in the Wild & Wonderful and Pink Ribbon won in 2014 by Pants on Fire and Geeky Gorgeous respectively.
The final two events in the Penn Gaming Racing Challenge take place on Thanksgiving Eve, November 25.
Zia Park will play host to the third Land of Enchantment Day, highlighted by the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks as well as the $200,000 Zia Park Derby. Much like Penn Mile day, the first two Land of Enchantment days have shattered virtually all single card wagering records in Zia’s history and was punctuated in 2014 by Fox Hill Farm’s Cassatt’s front running score over eventual La Canada (G2) winner Thegirlinthatsong.
Following the races in New Mexico, Penn National takes the spotlight with its Holiday Racing Festival featuring the $200,000 Fabulous Strike Handicap in addition to the $100,000 Swatara.
While not a part of the Penn Gaming Racing Challenge series, HRTV will also provide coverage of West Virginia Breeders’ Classics XXIX, to be held on October 10. Formed in the 1980’s by Carol Holden and NFL Hall of Famer Sam Huff, the Breeders’ Classics hit its high note in 2009 when total purses for the event reached $2 million. The races and purses for the West Virginia Breeders’ Classics will be released at a later date. The featured race on the Breeders’ Classics card – the $500,000 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic – was won for the third time by the now nine-year-old gelding Russell Road in 2014.
The Penn Gaming Racing Challenge kicked off in January with the Houston Ladies Classic night at Sam Houston – also covered by HRTV – and binds the 6 events through points awarded to owners, trainers and jockeys based on their participation and results in addition to containing other incentives for the connections of horses participating in multiple series races. The Penn Gaming Racing Challenge ultimately rewards the winners of the year-long series with a waiver of stakes fees at Penn Gaming tracks for an entire year as well as a trip to the Penn National Gaming owned M Resort in Las Vegas. The inaugural Penn Gaming Racing Challenge was won in 2014 by owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey as well as Chad Brown and Javier Castellano in the trainer and jockey categories respectively.