By: Tom LaMarra
Regulators and track executives in West Virginia hope to have about 50% of the starters in two upcoming graded stakes tested out of competition as part of a launch of the program in the state.
Officials are in the process of determining the likely starters for the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (gr. II), which will be run Aug. 6 at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort. Nominations for the 1 1/8-mile Derby close July 25.
“Our intent is to have 50% of the field for the Derby tested (out of competition),” West Virginia Racing Commission executive director Joe Moore said July 19. “That’s the process in place in Kentucky as well, so that would be our goal with both the Derby and the Oaks.”
The $350,000 Charles Town Oaks (gr. III) is scheduled for Sept. 17 atHollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.
WVRC member Bill Phillips, who attended recent meetings of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, noted regulators have formed a committee to perhaps modify the existing model rule on out-of-competition testing. He said WVRC deputy attorney general Kelli Talbott has been asked to participate in the review.
“It appears to me that we are out in front of it in West Virginia,” Phillips said. “We should continue down this road as much as possible.”
In other business at the July 19 racing commission meeting, Charles Town was approved to make up three lost racing programs Oct. 12-13 and Dec. 30. They are three of seven days the track lost earlier this year because of a stalled racing surface renovation and weather conditions.
The WVRC had agreed that all seven programs would be made up, but circumstances led to a change in that position. Charles Town in the fiscal year that just began will lose about $1.2 million in purse revenue from video lottery terminals because of legislative action, so management and the Charles Town Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association agreed to make up only three days.
The Charles Town HBPA in a letter, however, said the agreement doesn’t include any racing programs that could be canceled between now and the end of the year.