Charles Town Race Course announced this week that it may not run during January and February, citing last season's many cancellations and diminished play. However, if the state gives relief in the form of lower taxes, the West Virginia track can be expected to open the first week in January.
This week's rain has caused concern among those horsemen with turf performers in their barns. The past few years has shown that once the fall rains hit, area turf-racing suffers.
Tomorrow's Japan Association Handicap scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the Laurel turf will be switched to a mile on the dirt should the turf course remain soggy.
Star De Naskra, one of the favorites in the handicap, is a good example of class route horses showing marked improvement when turned back to the spirit distances.
The Dick Ferris-trained 3-year-old had been showing fine speed in route races against the best of his generation with mixed success. On Nov. 1, Ferris sent the son of Naskra to New York to compete against better older sprinters. The colt won at 7-to-1 odds, defeating each speedsters as Warm Front and Nearly On Time.
With the Laurel meeting about half over, trainers Grover Delp, Richard Dutrow and King Leatherbury again dominate the standings. In the jockey standings, leaders Thomas Kupfer and Ron Franklin have been joined by Willis Nemeti, who has booted home six less than the top pair.
The heart attack that felled two-time boxing champion Harry Jeffra has been stabilized and a pacemaker has been used outside the chest cavity to keep him comfortable. Jeffra, the stall manager at Pimlico Race Track for years, is 64. He held the bantam-weight and featherweight titles in the late 30s and early '40s.