CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Racing Commission voted Monday to rescind a January vote eliminating the $1.2 million purse for the Charles Town Classic and voted to reinstate the prize money for the April 21 race.
The commission voted against allocating the funds at its Jan. 23 meeting, putting the event at the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in doubt.
John Finamore, senior vice president for regional operations with Penn National Gaming, said the news is “very positive” for the state’s racing industry.
“That gives us two-and-a-half months to get the kind of field we need for that race,” he said. “It’s pretty tight. I think we can get it done, but we were certainly up against a deadline of this week. If this went on any longer, we would’ve certainly had to cancel this race.”
Penn National Gaming operates the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.
Commissioner Ken Lowe, who rejected the purse at the previous meeting, said he believed funds for future races should be examined to see if the race is having an economic impact.
“Let’s see what happens,” he said. “Something has to happen up here and with the horse racing in the state or it’s over. There’s way too much at stake. We’re doing everything we can to keep the industry and its people and all it stands for alive.”
According to Finamore, Commission Chairman Rossi said he wants to put together a work-study group to talk about the 2019 race and how the race can best support the state racing industry.
“We’re very happy to work with the chairman, the commission and the work study group to try to get ahead of this issue so we don’t get back into a corner like we did this year,” Finamore said.
Gov. Jim Justice said in a statement he was pleased with the decision.
“This is the best decision to help us continue to promote and highlight thoroughbred racing in West Virginia,” he added.