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In addition to hosting the track's first ever Grade 2 race, seeing multiple long standing track records broken by Good Lord and Lucy's Bob Boy and another series of successful event days, 2012 saw Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races' live racing season also reach new handle and wagering heights.
Following the closure of its 2012 season on Friday evening, Charles Town was able to boast a new annual record for average daily handle for a second consecutive year, and this time did so by hitting the seven-figure mark for the first time in the track's 79-year history.
When all was said and done in 2012, the average daily all-sources number of $1,001,938 -- which includes all completed live racing programs -- established a new benchmark, topping the previous record of $954,280 set in 2011, by 5 percent. A new record for total all-sources handle was also set in 2012 with $227,660,327 wagered on Charles Town's races.
"To be racing as long as Charles Town has and now reach a milestone like this is something our entire team should be immensely proud of," Vice President of Racing Operations Erich Zimny said in a news release about hitting the $1 million mark in average daily handle. "We'll do our best to build on our 2012 success as we move forward in 2013."
However, setting new standards for the highest average daily handle and total annual handle in track history were only two of several pari-mutuel records established at Charles Town in 2012. The full list of those all-time pari-mutuel marks includes:
• Highest average daily all-sources handle ($1,001,938)
• Highest average daily export handle ($948,250)
• Total annual all-sources handle ($227,660,327)
• Total annual export handle ($215,454,197)
• Consecutive live cards handling $1,000,000 or more (23 - 2/14/12 to 3/15/12)
• Highest average daily all-sources handle in a single month (April 2012 - $1,354,412)
• Highest average daily export handle in a single month (April 2012 - $1,292,386)
• Total all-sources handle in a single month (March 2012 - $29,426,572)
• Total export handle in a single month (March 2012 - $28,232,739)
• Highest single card export handle (April 14 - $3,174,035)
• Highest single card all-sources handle (April 14 - $3,441,631)
• Largest single race handle (April 14, Charles Town Classic - $1,006,789)
• Largest Pick 4 pool (April 14 - $159,056)
All told, average daily handle at Charles Town has grown 30 percent between 2009 and 2012.
Jockey Jose Montano, who spent much of 2012 as an apprentice, cruised to the riding title by racking up 216 wins, 109 ahead of runner-up Travis Dunkelberger. Montano, who came into 2012 with just 28 victories to his name, saw his 1,027 mounts earn a total of $3,442,187 on the racetrack. Included in those 216 wins were five stakes triumphs, including one division of the Tri-State Futurity and a pair in the West Virginia Breeders' Classics.
For the seventh consecutive year, Jeff Runco found himself on top of Charles Town's trainer standings. Runco won 159 races at the track in 2012, including a pair of scores in the West Virginia Breeders' Classics with Waves and Tides and In the Fairway. In addition to topping the list at Charles Town, Runco's 2012 campaign will enable him to finish amongst the country's top 25 trainers in wins for the fifth straight year and he also stands poised to finish in the top 10 nationally for the first time in his career. Ronney Brown finished second with 79 victories.
As the year drew to a close at Charles Town, the track announced its plans for 2013, which not only included 235 live racing days, but also an increase in the Charles Town Classic purse to $1,500,000. The $500,000 increase allows for the 2013 Charles Town Classic -- which will be held on April 20 -- to be the most lucrative thoroughbred race run in the United States outside of the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup.
Charles Town's 2013 racing season kicks off on Wednesday with post time for the first race scheduled for 7:15 p.m.