The majority of the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races stakes were approved earlier in the month, but the Classic’s purse was tabled when Commissioner Bill Phillips voiced his concerns about the overall purse account that is funded mainly by revenue earned through video lottery terminals.
Legislative action, as well as gaming competition from nearby states, has led to a shift in video lottery terminal purse revenue towards others state programs, which has impacted both West Virginia race tracks’ purse accounts.
In order to maintain and achieve a competitive purse structure, the local Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) and Charles Town have agreed to race 179 programs this year, which is down from 193 a year ago.
While Charles Town officials believe the Classic raises local racing awareness and pumps up the brand, the HBPA argues that reducing the peruse would maintain the overnight racing program.
Eventually the motion to approve the Classic’s pot of $1.25 million was approved, and seconded, but with an amendment — the purse would only be approved if the regular purse account provides $750,000. That amendment was voted down, and the original approval was then seconded in a vote of 2-1, with the entire $1.25 million purse coming from the regular purse account.
Even with a reduction of $250,000, there was optimism regarding the Charles Town Classic. “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 Charles Town Vice President of Racing Operations Erich Zimny. “It has 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.
The 2016 Charles Town Classic will run on April 23, 2016.