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Charles Town releases 2013 stakes schedule

With the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic and its newly minted $1,500,000 purse as its centerpiece, Charles Town on Monday released its full stakes lineup for 2013.

Charles Town's stakes schedule kicks off on April 20 with the Charles Town Classic, as well as five other stakes on the evening's 13 race program. With a purse that includes $1,000,000 paid out to the winner, the Charles Town Classic now stands as the richest race in the United States outside of the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup.

The most lucrative race on the April 20 undercard will be the $200,000 Sugar Maple for fillies and mares going seven furlongs. The Sugar Maple has been run on the Charles Town Classic undercard since the inaugural running of both races in 2009. Joining the Sugar Maple will be the $85,000 Robert Hilton Memorial, $50,000 Webb Snyder Charles Town Dash as well as the $50,000 Original Gold and Confucius Say for accredited West Virginia-breds.

The Charles Town Sprint Festival, on the calendar in late June since 2008, has been removed with a pair of races formerly held on the day shifted to the track's Race for the Ribbon Card on September 21.

The featured race on the Sprint Festival card, the Red Legend, is one of those races moved to its new spot in September and has been renamed The Researcher, after the winner of the first two Charles Town Classics. The Researcher, a seven-furlong race for three-year-olds, will maintain the same $400,000 purse it's carried since 2010.

"Moving the Researcher to September was primarily a matter of being scheduled around two or three three-year-old races as opposed to the seven or eight we had crossover with in June," Charles Town Vice President of Racing Operations Erich Zimny said. "In June, there were a few sprints within a couple weeks of the race and, with our race being two turns, we found ourselves losing horses to some of the route races at that time of the year. It was a very crowded spot on the calendar for a race like ours."

The fifth running of the Charles Town Oaks joins The Researcher on September 21 to form a duo of $400,000 races to headline the card. The Charles Town Oaks will be run at the same seven-furlong distance that it's been contested at since its inception.

Also moved from the Sprint Festival to September is the $85,000 Wild & Wonderful for older horses going seven furlongs. Other stakes on the Race for the Ribbon card include the $50,000 Pink Ribbon as well as a trio of $50,000 stakes for West Virginia-breds -- the Rachel's Turn, Henry Mercer Memorial and It's Only Money.

Including the five restricted stakes conducted on the Charles Town Classic and Race for the Ribbon days, 16 stakes for West Virginia-breds, totaling $800,000 in purses are currently scheduled in 2013. Not included in that figure is the $100,000 Tri-State Futurity, open to horses bred in West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia.

Also not included in those totals is the third of Charles Town's event days -- West Virginia Breeders' Classics XXVII, which is slated for October 19. The races and purses for the day showcasing the top West Virginia-bred horses in training will be released at a later date. In 2012, West Virginia Breeders' Classics XXVI was comprised of nine races and $1,345,000 in available purse money. The evening's signature race, the $500,000 West Virginia Breeders' Classic, was won for the second time by Russell Road.

All told, the 2013 Charles Town Stakes schedule is made up of 25 races worth a total of $3,670,000, excluding the West Virginia Breeders' Classics whose purses have not yet been finalized.

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