CHARLES TOWN — While the drama and enthusiasm of the Triple Crown series faded soon after Kentucky Derby winner Orb finished fourth in the Preakness Stakes, owners and trainers at Charles Town with horses gearing up for the West Virginia Breeders Classics this fall have plenty to get excited about.
Thursday, Charles Town hosted a solid card that offered several good allowance affairs for state-bred horses looking to take the first steps toward the West Virginia-bred stakes this summer and fall and potentially the Breeders Classics night on Oct. 19.
In the first of those races, Hidden Canyon was made the 3-5 favorite in a two-turn allowance for state-bred runners. Hidden Canyon was the lone 3-year-old in the field, but his victory in his sophomore debut had convinced his backers that he could compete successfully with older runners. He had won his freshman debut in such convincing fashion last summer that many onlookers immediately viewed him as a future star.
When the gate opened in that allowance event, Hidden Canyon broke alertly to gain command passing the finish line the first time and he led the field through the first turn and down the backside. Hidden Canyon shook loose of his nearest pursuer entering the far turn and then he drew clear in the lane to a five-length score.
Hidden Canyon had won his sophomore debut on May 1 by thumping an allowance group and covering the 41/2-furlongs in 51.75 on a night when the talented, state-bred 3-year-old filly Jax And Jill was credited with a hand-timed performance of 52.02 for the same distance.
Hidden Canyon has won both of his starts this year and three of four lifetime starts and earned nearly $60,000. He missed much of his 2-year-old campaign with a minor injury, but he appears sound and fresh and fit and poised for another good season. His next start will likely be the $50,000 Coin Collector Stakes on June 29.
In the next race on the card, Big Branch posted an 18-1 upset in a three-turn allowance race. Trained by Jeff Runco for Silverton Hill Farm, LLC, Big Branch sports a 2-1-1 from seven starts this year and banked over $40,000 along the way.
Then in the next race on the card, Aaron’s Way prevailed after a prolonged dual with Mr. Lonzo to score by a head at 41/2-furlongs. Trained by Chris Keller, Aaron’s Way notched his first win in three starts this year after missing his entire 4-year-old campaign. He had won one stakes at two and two more at age three, but missed all of last year with an injury. He now owns a 6-2-2 slate and $160,000 bankroll from 11 lifetime outings.