11/29/2012 5:10PM

Charles Town Classic to be worth $1.5 million in 2013, with $1 million going to the winner

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In an attempt to make its signature race stand out from the crowd, Charles Town has dramatically raised the overall purse and the winner’s share of the Charles Town Classic.

The West Virginia track announced Thursday that the Grade 2, 1 1/8-mile Classic will get a $500,000 purse boost to $1.5 million. That puts the Classic behind only seven of the Breeders’ Cup races and the Kentucky Derby among the richest races for Thoroughbreds in the United States.

Whereas there were 20 races in the U.S. worth $1 million in 2012, at $1.5 million the 2013 Classic will be tied for ninth with the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on the list of richest races. World-wide, counting only main track events for older males, the Classic will rank behind only the $10 million Dubai World Cup, the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, and three races in Japan.

As added incentive to bring elite horses to West Virginia’s eastern panhandle, Charles Town will alter the traditional split of the Classic purse by awarding $1 million to the winner, with the $500,0000 remainder split among all other finishers.

“We knew we’d always draw a very good field with the $1 million number,” said Erich Zimny, Charles Town’s vice president of racing operations. “But, the hope is, by moving it to $1.5 million and giving the seven-figure amount to the winner it makes it that much more attractive to those one or two horses on the fence who have the ability to move the race up another notch.”

In addition to the increased money available to all starters, horses who have captured a Grade 1 event in the past two years will get all entry and starting fees waived for the Classic.

The fifth running of the Charles Town Classic is scheduled for April 20. It will be part of a 13-race card that begins at 5 p.m. Eastern. The remainder of the stakes on Charles Town Classic Day, as well as the track’s complete 2013 stakes calendar, will be released within the next several weeks.