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Charles Town vote protested


Chances of a boycott at the Charles Town Races in Charles Town, W.Va., could be slim, even though an organization representing owners and trainers has voted to strike the entry box.

Wayne Harrison, vice president of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, and four other members of the 10-member HBPA board protested the move yesterday in a letter sent to the group's president, Randy Funkhouser.

Harrison said that association by-laws were incorrectly followed and that a required 50-person quorum of the nearly 2,000-member organization did not participate in the vote.

"Not everyone was informed about the meeting," Harrison said. "Only 44 people voted -- 32 in favor of the boycott, 12 against. I just think there should be a full vote if something of this magnitude is attempted."

Horsemen are upset over a recent 10 percent purse reduction and efforts by track management to install video lottery machines. Management feels that the machines will bring in new customers and plans to split proceeds with the horsemen.

Robert Hilton, a trainer who is also one of the 10 stockholders that owns the track, said there is only a $5,000 surplus in the horsemen's purse account.

"We like to keep the figure at $200,000," he said. "But no one bit the bullet earlier this year and budgeted the money properly. Everybody's broke. It's no time to call a strike."

Funkhouser, who did not return phone calls last night, said in an article in the Martinsburg (W.Va.) Journal yesterday that

management cut the purses to tighten its grip on horsemen in order to force their approval of the video lottery machines.

Paul Espinosa, a spokesman for the track, said yesterday that management doesn't want to overpay purses but could do so if the horsemen agreed to the installation of the machines.

The HBPA board and track management are meeting tonight to continue discussions.

NOTES: Kenny McMillan won the $16,500 allowance feature at Laurel Race Course yesterday on long shot Cap White. The 4-year-old gelding, trained by Larry Smith, came from the pace on a sloppy track and beat heavily favored Mighty Spook by 1 1/2 lengths. . . . Joe Rocco and apprentice Steve Hamilton each won two races on the card.

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