From a Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races release
Hollywood Casino at Charles Town has finalized and released its 2016 stakes schedule, which will once again be headlined by the track’s marquee race and biggest day of its meet – the $1,250,000 Charles Town Classic (G2) – on April 23. The Classic is one of 23 stakes currently scheduled at Charles Town for the coming year, with the races and purses for West Virginia Breeders’ Classics XXX slated for release in the coming months.
The purse of the Classic is down $250,000 from recent years, when it reached $1.5 million.
After just seven editions, the Charles Town Classic has become an annual stop for some of the top horses in the handicap division with its runners racking up a total of five Santa Anita Handicap wins between them as well as four Whitney Handicaps victories, four triumphs in the now Gold Cup at Santa Anita and three scores in the Pacific Classic as well as 12 wins in other Grade 1 events including the Stephen Foster, Metropolitan Handicap and Jockey Club Gold Cup. The nine total victories in the prestigious Santa Anita Handicap and Whitney by starters in the first seven Charles Town Classics is just one fewer than the starters in the last seven Breeders’ Cup Classics have produced over that same time frame.
Run for $1,500,000 in the previous three years, the Charles Town Classic purse will dip to $1,250,000 for 2016. Despite that $250,000 reduction in the purse, the 2016 Charles Town Classic still figures to share the title of the country’s richest race outside of the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup with a quartet of races in New York – the Metropolitan Handicap, Belmont Derby, Whitney Handicap and Travers – which were all run with a base purse of $1,250,000 in 2015. In 2015, the Travers purse was subsequently hiked to $1,600,000 based on a condition that increased the prize pool should American Pharoah participate. Additionally, the 2015 William Hill Haskell at Monmouth was run for $1,750,000 rather than its standard $1,000,000 due to the Triple Crown champ’s presence.
“We’re thrilled with the progress the Charles Town Classic has made in such a short time and look forward to again offering it as the centerpiece of our program,” said Erich Zimny, Charles Town’s Vice President of Racing Operations. “It’s been the key driver behind the enhanced level of national exposure our program has received as a whole and the pari-mutuel successes we’ve had wouldn’t be possible without it.”
After being moved to the daytime in 2015, the 2016 Charles Town Classic card will follow suit with a start time of 12:45pm EST.
As has been the case since its first running, the most lucrative supporting race on the 13 race Charles Town Classic card will be the $150,000 Sugar Maple presented by CANTER Mid-Atlantic, with the $100,000 Robert Hilton Memorial and four West Virginia-bred stakes – the Coin Collector, Confucius Say, It’s Binn Too Long and Original Gold – rounding out the stakes portion of the card on April 23.
Charles Town’s second graded race, the $350,000 Charles Town Oaks (G3) leads the eighth Race for the Ribbon program on September 17 that bundles a high quality card with a series of events designed to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure’s West Virginia Affiliate. The $100,000 Wild & Wonderful and $100,000 Pink Ribbon and three West Virginia accredited stakes round out the card on Race for the Ribbon day.
West Virginia Breeders’ Classics XXX will be held on October 8 and will have a new wrinkle added in for 2016 that ties the card to nine other West Virginia accredited stakes races held over the course of the year. While the races and purses for the West Virginia Breeders’ Classics will be announced at a later date, the nine races traditionally comprising the card will each be associated with a designated “Win & You’re In” race held over the course of the year, with the winner guaranteed a spot in the gate and their entry fee for that Breeders’ Classics race waived upon starting.
Including the seven restricted stakes conducted on the Charles Town Classic and Race for the Ribbon days, but excluding the West Virginia Breeders’ Classics, 16 stakes for West Virginia-breds, totaling $800,000 in purses are currently scheduled in 2016.