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WV Breeders Classics one stride from Triple Crown

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Now in its 27th year, the West Virginia Breeders Classics serves as a showcase event for the state's thoroughbred racing industry.

This year's event is scheduled Oct. 19 at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. Charles Town spokesman Erich Zimney says the event has evolved into a fall tradition in the Eastern Panhandle.

"The West Virginia Breeders Classics showcases the best local thoroughbred talent and Race for the Ribbon, which has attracted some of the top horses in America as well as having raised $70,000 for breast cancer care and research," he said.

The event was the brainchild of Carol Holden and former National Football League great Sam Huff. They were dedicated to bringing the marquee event to the Mountain State after seeing the excitement generated by the Maryland Million in 1986. Within a year, West Virginia had its own big day of racing.

"Sam said, ‘Why can't we do something like this in West Virginia?' Anyone who knows Sam knows he doesn't take no for an answer," said Holden, who has devoted a lifetime to horse racing.

"It's grown each year," she said. "It brings a lot of people because they know the people running the horses."

To be eligible, horses must be sired by an accredited West Virginia sire or foaled in the state. The event also includes the Cavada Breeders Classic, featuring fillies and mares.

"We would like nothing better than to have a West Virginia bred racing in a Triple Crown," Holden said, referring to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. "In fact, we did a few years ago. There's nothing stopping a West Virginia bred from running in those Triple Crown races and that's what we hope to see."