Breeders’ Classics races see Purse boost

Nine-race card totals $1.28M in purses, $125K more than ’13

CHARLES TOWN – There will be more on the line during this fall’s West Virginia Breeders’ Classics series.

The bottom line, that is.

The amount of purse money available for seven of the nine stakes races scheduled for Oct. 18 at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races has seen an increase over the amount available last year.

Four of the undercard stakes races will see their purses boosted $20,000 apiece, to $85,000 each.

Another three undercard stakes races will see their purses increased $15,000 apiece, to $80,000 each.

The evening’s signature event (the $500,000 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic) and its top supporting stakes race (the $200,000 Cavada for females) will see their purses remain the same as last year.

The nine-race program, billed as a showcase day reserved for the best West Virginia-bred racehorses, will be worth $1.28 million. That is a $125,000 increase over last year’s total.

Founded in 1987 by NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff and Carol Holden, the West Virginia Breeders’ Classics has grown from five races worth a total $200,000 to a high watermark of nine races worth $2 million in 2009.

Expanded casino gambling in neighboring states and an economic recession has caused the amount of money available for purses to drop in recent years. Racing purses in West Virginia are subsidized by casino revenue from slot machines and table games.

The weekend festivities surrounding the West Virginia Breeders’ Classics also include a golf tournament, a formal gala dinner and a breakfast featuring former NFL players and thoroughbred racing personalities. Each of these events is open to the public through invitation or general ticket sales.

“We’re certainly very happy it’s lasted as long as it has and that we’ve been able to provide good purse money for the horsemen,” said Holden, who is president of the West Virginia Breeders’ Classics.

“In 28 years, by the time this year’s over, we’re going to be pretty close to $25 million in purse money that’s gone into the area,” Holden continued. “And not only into the area, but it circulates … basically through the Jefferson County area. It benefits the horsemen there.”

As has been the case since the inaugural event in 1987, the richest race on the card will be the West Virginia Breeders’ Classic for thoroughbreds 3 years old and upward covering 1 1/8 miles over the dirt track.

Originally run for $100,000 in 1987, the Breeders’ Classic has stood at $500,000 since 2005, making it the richest state-bred race in the country.

Last fall, Fred High topped a field that included 2012 winner Lucy’s Bob Boy and Russell Road, who had won the race in both 2009 and 2011.

Last week, Fred High opened his 2014 campaign with a victory in an allowance race at Charles Town after nearly eight months off. The following night, Lucy’s Bob Boy topped a talented field of runners, including Russell Road who finished third, in an open allowance event at the local venue.

The $200,000 Cavada Breeders’ Classic returns as the top supporting stakes race on the program. For females 3 years old and upward going seven furlongs, the Cavada will be run for a purse of $200,000 or more for the 11th consecutive year.

The Cavada was run for $500,000 purse in both 2008 and 2009. It was dropped to $250,000 in 2010 and remained there until last year when it fell to $200,000.

“To have an equal purse for the Classic and the Cavada for fillies I really liked because the colts always get more money than the girls,” Holden said.

Four stakes races – the Distaff, Division of Tourism, West Virginia Lottery and Onion Juice – all received a purse bump of $20,000 to $85,000 apiece.

Three other stakes races – the Dash for Cash, Triple Crown Nutrition and Vincent Moscarelli Memorial – all received an increase of $15,000 apiece to $80,000.

Purse levels for those undercard stakes races also were at their highest in 2009, ranging between $125,000 and $150,000.

Post time for 28th running of the West Virginia Breeders’ Classics is scheduled for 7 p.m. The $500,000 Breeders’ Classic will be featured on HRTV, while much of the card will be broadcast on Comcast Mid-Atlantic and Fox Sports Net.

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