Mountaineer To Race Six Fewer Days in 2023



Mountaineer Park was granted approval on Monday by the West Virginia Racing Commission (WVRC) to race 124 dates in 2023, a six-program reduction from the 130 that the track is scheduled to race this year during its April-through-December meet.

Speaking about the loss of race dates, WVRC executive director Joe Moore said, “I'm told that is as a result of the Horse Racing Integrity Authority (HISA) and Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU) assessments recently received by the commission and the racetracks for calendar year 2023.”

Mountaineer executives were offered the opportunity to elaborate on that reasoning and the dates cutback, but chose not to speak during the Nov. 14 meeting.

The HISA and HIWU assessments were separately discussed at length during a different portion of the meeting. TDN covered that topic here.

The awarding of race dates in West Virginia is a somewhat confusing two-step process bound by a state statute that requires Mountaineer to apply for 210 annual dates and Charles Town Races to apply for 220.

But in actuality, those quotas haven't been met “in a number of years” because of the logistical difficulties of filling that many cards, Moore said.

Moore explained that to comply with the law, tracks must first apply for the statutory minimum, then come back to the commission with a reduction request. After a 10-day public commentary period, if each track's horsemen's organization and tellers' union do not object, the WVRC can vote to reduce the dates.

So Mountaineer did both steps at Monday's meeting. Charles Town only applied for the 220 minimum, and will presumably be back before the board at a future meeting to ask for its traditional reduction.

Moore said Charles Town, which races year-round except for a brief break in December and January, had asked for 179 dates in 2022, but will likely end up racing only 175 by year's end because cancellations.

Charles Town executives were also offered an opportunity to outline the track's 2023 dates strategy, but declined to speak.

Chairman Ken Lowe Jr. and commissioner J.B. Akers voted in the affirmative on the two statutory requests and Mountaineer's reduction request. Commissioner Tony Figaretti voted “no” on all three counts.

“I'm not happy with it,” Figaretti said. “We're always deducting days, deducting days. It's too hard for me to accept that.”

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