While we have wrapped up the Derby prep season and are still weeks away from the run for the roses, we turn our attention off the beaten path and over to Charles Town Racecourse in West Virginia for the Charles Town Classic. This grade 2 1-1/8 mile event will be contested by a field of 10 older horses that will run around 3 hairpin turns over the Charles Town dirt course.
With a modest distance of 1-1/8 miles, 3 turns, and a short stretch, being close and saving ground will be paramount in this race.
Of the 10 starters, 9 will be shipping in for a shot at the $1,000,000 purse. The only local hopeful is the 12-1 morning line outsider Runnin’toluvya. With a lifetime record of 11 wins in 15 outings, Runnin’toluvya is a speedball who will influence the pace, but in his first attempt against graded stakes company, I don’t give him much of a shot to be there at the end.
Headlining the shippers will be a quartet of millionaires: Imperative, Discreet Lover, War Story and Something Awesome. Something Awesome will be looking to defend his victory in the 2018 Charles Town Classic.
The pace of the race should be hot as Runnin’toluvya will challenge Diamond King and Rally Cry, with War Story crossing over from post 9 to sit just behind them. This pits the cheapest speed of Runnin’toluvya against a bunch of graded stake experienced speed. This setup should allow anyone who is able to save ground the opportunity to pick up the pieces in the lane.
Nanoosh, from post #2 has a stalking style but his speed figures are lacking. The same can be said for #5, Imperative, who, in spite of his $3.2m earnings, has not won a race in 2 years. Discreet Lover, from post #6, won the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont from 15 lengths back, but will have to come from way back again this week but in 1/8 mile shorter distance and in a much shorter stretch run. And Unbridled Juan will have to overcome post 10 to settle into the ground saving stalking trip he prefers.
The horse I landed on this week will be breaking from the rail. The #1, Mongolian Groom, has been running in Southern California. In his most recent effort he outran his 53-1 odds to finish 3rd in the G1 Santa Anita Handicap behind Gift Box and McKinzie. In that race Mongolian Groom sat 4th of 6 to a dawdling pace and was still running strong as he galloped out after the wire. That race was a huge step up in class for this trainee of Enebish Ganbat, but the connections must have seen a reason to step him up from a first condition allowance race up to a G1 event. If he repeats that effort, Mongolian Groom should have a geed chance of becoming a G2 winner this week.
Let’s take Mongolian Groom for the win.