Charles Town Races

Charles Town Races & Slots is a horse racing and gaming complex in Charles Town, West Virginia. It has a six furlong horse track that features live thoroughbred racing.

Charles Town Races is one of the region's fastest growing entertainment and gaming destinations. Aside from offering some of the best thoroughbred racing action in West Virginia, it also offers slots and sweepstakes attractions.

Charles Town Races is the home of the famous West Virginia Breeders' Classic. This showcases top state bred horses in a series of stakes races.

It also hosts some of the most prestigious stakes racing events in the state. Among these are:

  • Charles Town Dash
  • Shenandoah Stakes
  • Robert G. Leavitt Memorial Stakes
  • Sadie Hawkins Stakes
  • Frank Gall Memorial Stakes
  • West Virginia Futurity Stakes

The track has recently undergone an extensive restoration. It now has a new racing surface, banked turns, new high-tech lighting and a major-league stadium style drainage system designed to reduce cancellations caused by bad weather.

Since taking over the track in 1997, Penn National Gaming has renovated the Grandstand and barns, built jockey quarters and a new paddock. The number of race dates was increased from 210 to 260, while the number of races per day increased from nine to as many as 12.

Furthermore, purses have grown from $22,000 per day to an average of $200,000, and the number of horse owners and trainers has grown from 2,400 to 13,000.

Charles Town Races Track Information

• Main Track : Six furlongs
• Distance from last turn to finish line : 660 feet

History of Charles Town Races


  • Charles Town opened on December 2. At the time of its opening, it was the only operating track in America.


  • The Charles Town grandstand and clubhouse were completely enclosed and heated.
  • On April 27, Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, made an appearance for a Democratic Party rally held at the track during the campaign.


  • Charles Town race track was sold to Shenandoah Corporation. Year-round racing in Shenandoah Downs was then moved to Charles Town. Shenandoah Downs is still used as a training track.


  • Sunday racing was introduced.


  • The West Virginia Breeders Classics was started by football Hall-of-Famer, Sam Huff. The races of this prestigious event are still run on the track each year and showcase the top state bred horses in a series of stakes races.


  • Penn National Gaming Inc. bought the racetrack.


  • Longshots, the multi-million dollar simulcast center, was unveiled in January.


  • Extensive renovation was undertaken on the track.

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