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Charles Town Race Track Opens: December 2, 1933

The Charles Town Race Track opened in Jefferson County on December 2, 1933.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online.

The Charles Town Race Track opened in Jefferson County on December 2, 1933.  It was the first track in West Virginia to open after the state legalized racing and parimutuel betting. The sprawling complex featured a 3,000-seat, steam-heated grandstand and a 200-seat restaurant.

Economically, though, it was bad timing—during the darkest days of the Great Depression. As a result, the track lost money during its first two years of operation. But, everything changed when Albert J. Boyle purchased the facilities and attracted a slew of big bettors from Baltimore and Washington. Over the next 20 years, Boyle would become the father of horse racing in West Virginia.

In 1964, the owners of Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course purchased the track and installed lights for night racing.

By the 1990s, the track had changed hands several times and appeared to be on its way out. However, in 1996, West Virginia voters approved placing video lottery machines at the state’s tracks. Today, the track—now known as Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races—brings in most of its revenue from video slots and table games.

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