07/20/2006 12:00AM

Charles Town cuts stakes


Charles Town Races in West Virginia has canceled all its open stakes races scheduled for later this year in the face of tightening revenue from the track's slot machines, the president of the Charles Town Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association said Thursday.

Randy Funkhouser, the president of the horsemen's association, said Thursday that because of lower-than-expected revenue, a purse underpayment of $4 million at the beginning of the year has been shaved to $2 million, and that horsemen were fearful that without the cuts, the underpayment would be exhausted by the end of the year. He also said that several open stakes held earlier this year drew short fields and very little wagering.

"We don't want to cut purses, but we do think the condition book has become a little top-heavy," Funkhouser said. "So the solution was to scale back the open races."

Unaffected will be the state's restricted stakes program, including the West Virginia Breeders Classics, an eight-race card scheduled for October with total purses of $1 million.

Officials of Charles Town did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.