01/09/2002 1:00AM

Charles Town


Ronney Brown is the new king of the hill among Charles Town trainers.

Brown saddled 129 winners to finish seven ahead of seven-time season champion Jeff Runco.

The seasonal crown ranks as a career highlight for Brown, who ranked among the top 10 trainers six times at Penn National, won seven three-month meet titles at Charles Town during the past three years, and trained Charles Town's 2000 Horse of the Year, Pressin' Your Luck.

Brown did it with the help of 30 owners, 15 stable employees, and a barn full of runners that included Secret Deputy, Golden Liberty, My Sister Pearl, and Carrigaline, who combined for 28 wins.

It didn't hurt to have Travis Dunkelberger doing most of the riding.

Dunkelberger won 184 races at Charles Town to capture his fifth riding title at the track in the last six years. He also won 195 races in Maryland to finish third in the nation despite missing six weeks with a broken collarbone.

Larry Reynolds finished second in the track standings with 149 wins. Jesus Sanchez, the defending champ, was third with 118.

James Vail, Anthony Mawing, Justin Kravets, and Mark Rosenthal each won more than 100 races and their mounts earned more than $1 million in purses.

Purses reached an all-time high, averaging as much as $150,000 daily during a one-week stretch in December. Live handle rose $44 million from the previous year to an average of $618,949 daily. More than $144 million was bet during 234 days of live racing and an additional $51 million was bet on simulcast races from around the country.