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Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races

Historic Sites, Monuments, Landmarks, and Public Art ()


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.

This is the starting gate for horse racing for the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in 2012.
This is the entrance to the casino and race track.
This is the tote board for keeping score at the Charles Town Races.


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. 



Theriault, William D. For Love and Money: Jefferson County Horse Racing.Goldenseal, Spring 1989.

608 East Washington Street
Charles Town, WV 25414
Phone Number
  • Sports History
  • Urban History
This location was created on 2015-02-28 by Joshua Hughes .   It was last updated on 2018-02-15 by Michael Tanner .

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