While much of the attention two Saturdays ago Saturday was focused on the Grade II, $1.5 million Charles Town Classic and the two multiple Grade
I winners that arrived for the event, Charles Town also hosted a trio of open stakes on the undercard.
One race prior to the Classic, the combination of trainer Bob Baffert and Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith was expected to dominate the
$200,000 Sugar Maple Stakes for fillies and mares with the talented four-year-old, Book Review, who won last year’s edition of the $400,000
Charles Town Oaks and later captured the Grade I, La Brea Stakes for fillies and mares at Santa Anita.
But Book Review scratched out of the Sugar Maple, leaving the race completely wide open. In fact, both Holiday Soiree and Dance to
Bristol shared favoritism at 6-5. Those two dominated the wagering and virtually turned the Sugar Maple into a match race, although the last
sixteenth of a mile was anything but competitive.
Soon after the start of the Sugar Maple, Dangerous Vixen and Holiday Soiree both broke alertly to vie for command heading past the
finish line the first time with Dance to Bristol in close pursuit while three-wide through the clubhouse turn. When the field straightened away
for the run down the backside, Holiday Soiree shook loose from Dangerous Vixen, but she soon had company from Dance to Bristol and
those two were on even terms leaving the three-sixteenths pole.
But midway on the far turn, Dance to Bristol surged past Holiday Soiree to take command and the Ollie Figgins trainee romped home six
lengths clear in 1:23.78, a solid time for the seven panels on this night. The four-year-old Speightstown filly out of a Louis Quatorze
mare notched her third win in four starts this year and now boasts six wins and $350,000 banked from 14 career outings. She will pointed next
for the $100,000 Skipat Stakes on the May 17 Black-Eyed Susan card at Pimlico.
Although he is not stabled at Charles Town, Immortal Eyes has enhanced both his reputation and bankroll over the oval in recent
years, having won nine of his 10 previous starts and consecutive editions of the Charles Town Dash and the Webb Snyder Stakes. Saturday
evening, Immortal Eyes was made the prohibitive 4-5 favorite in the combined version of those stakes, the $50,000 Webb Snyder Charles Town
On a night when being on or near the lead had an added importance, Immortal Eyes encountered plenty of trouble and it proved to be his undoing. While Fearsome broke very alertly and darted for command in his customary fashion, Immortal Eyes was a step slow away from the gate and then got checked and steadied in tight quarters in
the opening furlong and was taken back to last.
While Fearsome sped through honest fractions of 21.1 and 44.4 with a clear lead, Immortal Eyes looked to overcome his early troubles by launching a wide rally on a night when the inside part of the track appeared advantageous. Fearsome held sway through the lane for a three-length score in 50.69 for the 4 1/2-furlongs, while Immortal Eyes
rallied widest of all late to gain the place sport in a stellar performance.
A four-year-old Speightstown gelding trained by Hugh McMahon for the Winners Circle Partners X, Fearsome has won three of four starts this year and earned almost $65,000. He has won six of 15 career outings and banked almost $130,000 and he has now won all three of his starts at Charles Town where his speed is doubly effective.
Although he suffered only his second defeat in 11 starts over the local strip, Immortal Eyes did little to discredit his reputation. The eight-year-old Greatness gelding trained by Damon Dilodovico for owner Robert Abbo sports a solid 13-12-4 slate and $730,000 bankroll from 41 lifetime starts and he has been first nine times and second twice in 11
local outings. Immortal Eyes holds the all-age track record for 4 1/2-furlongs of 50.09 and soon after he’s retired the track seems likely to name a race in his honor.
Two races earlier on the card in the $85,000 Robert Hilton Memorial Stakes for three-year-old colts and geldings, Free World lived up to his billing as the even-money choice when he gained command soon after the start and romped home five lengths clear in 1:24.95 for the seven furlongs. A sophomore son of Stormy Atlantic trained by Thomas Amoss for owner Maggi Moss, Free World posted his third win in four starts this year and his fourth victory in six career outings, doubling his earnings to roughly $105,000.