CHARLES TOWN, W.VA., SEPT. 3 -- The West Virginia Racing Commission has ordered Charles Town Races to run five fewer races a week, claiming horse owners and trainers cannot afford the current schedule.
Track owners are unhappy with the decision, which takes effect Oct. 1. Track President Keith Wagner said the commission and the Horsemen's Benevolent Protective Association "reneged" on an agreement reached in December about this year's schedule.
"We were blatantly lied to," Wagner said.
Wayne Harrison of the 2,200-member horsemen's association said his organization would receive no more money because of the decision.
"It simply means we will be allowed to maintain the purse distribution during the last three months of the year," Harrison said.
Harrison and Robert Burke, president of the commission, acknowledged it is a gamble to change the race schedule. They said they are counting on customers betting as much as they normally would.
If the amount bet declines, the amount disbursed among horse owners also decreases.
Burke said track and horse owners would propose racing dates for 1991, saying, "We are not going to go through what we did last year."
Last year track officials objected to the racing dates set in December by the commission. The owners decided to close the facility rather than abide by the commission's decision and a new schedule subsequently was announced.