07/31/2001 11:00PM

Local talent dominates as entry box overflows


There's no shortage of horses at Charles Town. In fact, the entry box is regularly overflowing.

Last Friday, for example, a race for bottom-level $2,500 claimers attracted 38 entries. A conditioned claiming race for $5,000 horses drew 39 runners on Saturday. Both races attracted multiple ship-ins, primarily from Maryland, where horsemen are looking for a place to run while Pimlico and Laurel are closed.

Overall, Charles Town averaged 180 entries a card last week.

In an angle worth noting for handicappers, locally based horses are outperforming the invaders. Last week, of the 80 shippers who ran, only eight won.

One of the few successful out-of-towners was Penn National-based Kohuna Grande ($13.20), who won last Thursday's featured $24,500 allowance at 6 1/2 furlongs for trainer Todd Beattie. Kohuna Grande, a 4-year-old gelding who came into the race winless in five starts this year, edged Pressin' Your Luck, Charles Town's 2000 horse of the year, by a half-length.

* Travis Dunkelberger, the nation's leading jockey in wins but second in the standings here behind Larry Reynolds, rode three winners last Friday for his sixth multiple-win day in the last two weeks.

* Peacomb Hen ($22.40) and Franklin's D.E. ($74) combined for a $3,202.60 daily double in last Friday's eighth and ninth races.

* Jockey Juan Ortega has gone into semi-retirement. Ortega, 23, was the sixth leading rider here with 46 wins when he last rode on July 15. He is now working as an exercise rider for Confetti Farms in Virginia. Ortega said he wanted to take a break from racing and if he decides to ride again, it won't be until next summer.

Philadelphia Park opens new OTB

Philadelphia Park will open its newest offtrack betting facility on Friday.

The Northeast Turf Club, located in the Roosevelt Mall on Cottman Avenue in Philadelphia, is the sixth and final offtrack parlor that Philadelphia Park is allowed to construct under state law.

The $3.5 million facility, designed to accommodate 600 patrons, consists of two levels and includes a dining room. The entire first floor is designated a nonsmoking area.

The decor features mahogany walls and a copper-topped bar surrounded by booths equipped with individual television monitors and hand-held wagering machines. All tables in the dining room will have two personal televisions and a hand-held wagering device.

The Turf Club will be open from 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday. Hours will be extended on weekends when international racing is simulcast.

Parking and admission are free.