Bring out the next blockbuster; it’s only a couple of weeks away. Mountain State magic, via live thoroughbred horse racing events, continues on Aug. 26.
First up is the $1 million Charles Town Classic at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.
This follows on the heels of Saturday’s $500,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park in New Cumberland.
It is unusual for any state outside of California and New York (let alone one the size of West Virginia) to have two premier showcases just three weeks apart. But Mountain State has this package.
Here is an overview of the scene for horse bettors in West Virginia. It began last weekend when local bettors watched Skippylonstocking outduel We The People in a thrilling Belmont Stakes rematch in the West Virginia Derby.
Skippylongstocking will now use the West Virginia springboard to enter either the $1.25 million Travers on Aug. 27 or the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby running on Sept. 24.
2022 Charles Town Classic preview
All eyes move to the classic. It unfolds on a unique night, Friday, Aug. 26, with a special first post of 5 p.m. This is an important programming note for bettors, whether they wager remotely or attend the races.
Most major horse racing events occur on Saturdays, but the Friday date enables Charles Town to avoid clashing with the Travers Stakes one day later from Saratoga. The classic headlines the biggest day of the year in West Virginia horse racing.
Mountain State bettors can access the big card via TVG and other outlets throughout the state. If they choose to go, they will discover that the track has rolled out the red carpet.
Charles Town will pay out more than $2 million in purses, assemble food trucks, and provide entertainment.
The field will gradually crystallize with big names as trainers and owners grapple over whether they feel this is the best spot for their horse. Some owners will look to see what decisions competitors make before opting in.
The first probable entrant is Officiating. He comes off a nice victory in the 1 1/8-mile Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows in July. The horse also has a six-furlong triumph at Aqueduct Park in New York.
The actual field will become official at the draw, early in the week of the event. But the speculation leading up to it will give some early handicapping signals to bettors.
Meanwhile, they peruse a bevy of options at the track utilizing the Barstool Sportsbook.
The Barstool Sportsbook on-site offers:
- 30 TVs
- A three-sided Jumbotron with a 250″ LED screen on each side
- A Watch Zone stretching 48 feet long
The special 13-race card begins at 5 p.m.
Additional horse racing at Charles Town
Charles Town’s biggest day in 2022 follows up on a format that started in 2020. This approach (celebrated throughout the industry) subsequently produced two of the three largest handles in Charles Town’s history.
The principle involved is stacking a group of high-level races to try to corner the gambling market.
The track presents both of its graded stakes — the $1 million Charles Town Classic (G2) and $500,000 Charles Town Oaks (G3) — on the same Aug. 26 card.
The Classic (run for $1 million in its first 11 editions) returns to the seven-figure territory. The pandemic had reduced purses over the last couple of years.
The Oaks also received a purse increase, to $500,000, matching where it stood in 2014, the first year it was run as a graded race.
The supporting cast for the two major races includes the following:
- Russell Road Stakes
- Misty Bennett Pink Ribbon Stakes
- Robert Hilton Memorial
- Sadie Hawkins Stakes
- Frank Gall Memorial
- Rachel’s Turn Stakes
- Henry Mercer Memorial
More than just horse racing at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
Those who consider attending (where they can watch live races and still bet on all major sports) are being wooed by the track. There is:
- Live entertainment, such as fire breathers and a petting zoo
- Food trucks and a beer garden
- Games and contests
- Sidewalk art
Festivities are hosted by Emcee Brian Thomas, the Mini Entertainer.
As for the food trucks, the list includes the following:
- Traditional authentic Mexican food, from tacos to nachos
- Stroker’s BBQ: Navy veteran owned
- The Blues Pizza Company: Providing artisan-crafted pies
- Doggy Style Food Cart: Veteran-owned; 100% all-beef hot dogs on Mattin’s Potato Buns with many toppings
- Deez Donutz & Boardwalk Fryz: Made-to-order mini cake donuts and hand-cut boardwalk fries