08/20/2014 4:18PM

Mountaineer reduces number of nightly races

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In response to the West Virginia Racing Commission’s rejection of its request to eliminate 14 days of live racing in December, Mountaineer Racetrack has reduced its nightly number of races and cut some overnight purses.

Starting Monday, Mountaineer will hold eight races nightly. The West Virginia track usually has nine-race cards that expand to 10 races in October and November.

In addition, purses have been reduced. A maiden special weight race that formerly went for $19,400, for example, will now be worth $17,500. Purses for a first-level allowance are dropping from $22,200 to $20,000.

Earlier this week, the West Virginia Racing Commission told Mountaineer to remain open as scheduled in December and advised the track to reduce the number of live races to eight per program. The commission did say that if purse money runs out before the end of the year, as Mountaineer officials fear, the track would be permitted to cut short the season.

Earlier this year, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed a bill that cuts video lottery revenue appropriations to various Thoroughbred and greyhound breeders' and purse funds by 10 percent and redirects them to the State Excess Lottery Revenue Fund.

Mountaineer also faces new competition for gambling dollars this fall when Mahoning Valley Race Course near Youngstown, Ohio is scheduled to open. Mahoning Valley, which replaces Beulah Park near Columbus on the Ohio racing circuit, plans to race from November through April. It’s less than an hour’s drive between Mountaineer in West Virginia’s western panhandle and the new Mahoning Valley  track.