Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races is a horse racing track with a casino and hotel that opened on December 3, 1933. Albert and Joseph Boyle spent $160,000 to construct the facility at the height of the Great Depression. Given its location near Baltimore and Washington D.C. and the railroad, the track was a success. Ownership of the race track and casino has changed many times. In 1997, the facility was purchased by Penn National Gaming.
Backstory and Context
The track survived the Great Depression and reduced patronage during World War II owing to its status as one of the only casinos located near several metropolitan areas. In 1954, Hall of Fame jockey Bill Hartack began his career at the track. He would end it with a total of 4,277 races, including nine Triple Crown events.
In 1960, Presidential Candidate John F. Kennedy held a rally at the venue during the climax of that year's presidential election. In that same year, J. Edgar Hoover made frequent visits to the track. Also in that year, a capacity crowd of 21,480 watched the Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns boxing match on closed-circuit television in the venue. The track faced competition at this time, as Shenandoah Downs opened nearby in 1959. The two tracks competed for the same customer base until 1976, when Shenandoah Downs closed.