With marquee thoroughbred meets getting underway at Del Mar and Saratoga, Charles Town offered a week of races that focused primarily on horses whose goals will likely be in stakes races much closer to home.
While the Saturday evening programs at Charles Town usually take center stage, the lack of stakes races this month – they will resume with the $50,000 Robert Leavitt Memorial for state-bred 3-year-olds on Aug. 9 – pushed the emphasis to a Thursday card that offered a trio of allowance races and a three maiden special weight events.
In Thursday’s feature, ThistleDown invader Dual Exhauzt (ridden by J.D. Acosta) gained command down the backside and then drew clear to a two-length score in a two-turn allowance/optional $25,000 claiming race.
A 6-year-old Alke gelding out of a Hennessey mare, Dual Exhauzt covered the 6 1/2-furlongs in a solid 1:19.10 for his third win in 10 starts this year and he now owns a 7-6-9 slate and $285,000 career bankroll from 38 starts for trainer Jamie Ness and the Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc.
One race earlier on the card, in a rare, three-turn allowance endeavor here, Canal Street (Gerald Almodovar) rallied from well off the pace to forge a neck victory in 1:47.75 for the one-mile and one-sixteenth affair. A 6-year-old Flower Alley gelding owned and trained by William A. Campbell, Canal Street notched his second win in 10 tries this year and he now owns an 11-12-11 slate and $182,000 bankroll from 50 career outings.
One race prior in a traditional two-turn allowance affair here, Gallopin Greatness (Acosta) pressed Classic Corinthian (Jose Osorio, Jr.) through the first turn and down the backside and then overhauled that one late to score by a neck in 1:26.97 for the seven panels. A 4-year-old Greatness gelding trained by Eddie Householder for owners John Lee and Robert Falcone, Gallopin Greatness posted his second win in seven starts this year and now sports a 4-1-1 slate and $56,000 bankroll from 11 lifetime tries.
Then one race earlier in a two-turn maiden special weight event for fillies and mares, Cherie’s A.P. (Travis Dunkelberger) may have delivered the best performance of the night and perhaps the week.
A 3-year-old daughter of A.P. Warrior out of an Afleet mare, Cherie’s A.P. gained command soon after the break, led throughout and widened her margin through the lane en route to an eight-length score in 1:26.22 in her seasonal debut. The James Lawrence trainee garnered her diploma in her fourth career try and did so in a clocking that was considerably faster than older boys in the subsequent allowance.
Two races earlier in a one-turn maiden special weight event for 3-year-olds and up, Capitano Storm (Jerry Villegas) surged to command at the head of the lane and then held safe California invader Fifteen Black (Angel Cruz) for a length victory in 52.99 for the 4 1/2-furlongs. A sophomore son of Capitano trained by James Locklear for owner Brandon Brayboy, prevailed for the first time in four tries this year after being unraced at age 2.
Two races earlier in the opening race on the card, a one-turn maiden special weight event for state-bred 2-year-old fillies, Sassafras Springs (Fredy Peltrouche) gained command soon after the break, opened a three-length lead turning for home and then held sway late to post a 4-1 upset in her career debut. Trained by Ollie Figgins, III, of Dance to Bristol fame for owner-breeder Ray Pennington, III, Sassafras Springs scored at first asking in 54.23. Just A Real Cat settled for second for the third straight time to begin her career for owner-breeder-trainer John McKee.
In the Wednesday card one night earlier, trainer Jeff Runco, much to no one’s surprise, saddled the winners of both allowance races, one each for males and females and one for open runners and the other for state-breds.
Runco sent out High N Dry to a sharp score in a two-turn allowance for state-bred sophomores just past the midway point of the card. The 3-year-old son of Harlan’s Holiday has won both of his starts, prevailing by two lengths in 1:19.12 for owner Smart Angle. High N Dry had made his belated career debut two months earlier, capturing a state-bred maiden special weight event by on May 31.
Then two races later on the card, Side Letter maintained her winning ways when she captured a one-turn allowance for fillies and mares. This 3-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes trained by Runco for the Rockingham Ranch, covered the 4 1/2-furlongs in 51.81 for her third win in six starts this year and she now sports a 4-2-0 slate and $86,000 bankroll from 12 career tries.
– Ted Black is president of the Maryland Racing Media Association and a longtime contributing columnist for local horse racing