12/23/2015 6:01PM

Charles Town trims Classic purse to $1.25 million

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The West Virginia Racing Commission has approved 23 stakes at Charles Town for 2016, topped by its signature race, the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic, which has had its purse trimmed from $1.5 million to $1.25 million.

Besides the Charles Town Classic purse reduction, the schedule mirrors that of this year. The total value of the schedule is $2.9 million, down from $3.15 million in 2015.

The stakes so far approved by the West Virginia Racing Commission do not include the West Virginia Breeders’ Classics, which will be announced next year. In 2015, the Breeders’ Classic schedule was finalized in July and the nine races offered $1.08 million in purses.

There will be three multiple stakes cards at the Charles Town meet. The Charles Town Classic is one of seven stakes on April 23. The top supporting stakes are the $150,000 Sugar Maple, for fillies and mares, and the $100,000 Robert Hilton Memorial, for 3-year-olds. Both of those races will be run at seven furlongs.

The 1 1/8-mile Charles Town Classic, which was won by Moreno last year after heavy favorite Shared Belief was pulled up with a hip injury, will be run for the eighth time next year. The race had a purse of $1.5 million in each of the last three years.

“We’re thrilled with the progress the Charles Town Classic has made in such a short time,” said Erich Zimny, the vice president of racing operations at Charles Town. “It’s been the key driver behind the enhanced level of national exposure our program has received.”

The Charles Town Classic was run as a day card for the first time last year and will have a first post of 12:45 p.m. Eastern in 2016.

The Grade 3, $350,000 Charles Town Oaks is the headliner of a six-stakes Race for the Ribbon card on Sept. 17. This year’s Oaks was won by Hot City Girl.

The program also will feature the $100,000 Pink Ribbon Stakes for fillies and mares and the $100,000 Wild and Wonderful Stakes for 3-year-olds and up. All three races are seven furlongs.

The West Virginia Breeders’ Classics will be run Oct. 8. Each of the Breeders’ Classics will be paired with a Win and You’re In statebred stakes earlier in the meet. The winner of those races will receive a guaranteed, fees-paid starting spot in the designated Breeders’ Classics race.

In addition to reducing the purse of the Charles Town Classic, Charles Town has trimmed its number of racing days in 2016 from 193 to 179.