William Harris’ Sweet Goodbye, 11-for-20 lifetime and five-for-six at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, on April 16 will seek to capture what eluded her last year—victory in the $250,000 Sugar Maple Stakes for fillies and mares at the West Virginia racetrack.
The TVG Sugar Maple, at seven furlongs around two turns, is the secondary feature on the $1 million Charles Town Classic (gr. III) program. The six-stakes program beings at 6 p.m. EDT.
Sweet Goodbye, trained by Chris Grove, was cross-entered in the $75,000 Primonetta Stakes at Pimlico Race Course the same afternoon, but Maryland Jockey Club officials indicated the 6-year-old Maryland homebred mare by Louis Quatorze would race at Charles Town. William Inman and Ralph Patten’s Five Diamonds, also cross-entered in the two stakes, is expected to remain Maryland.
In the 2010 Sugar Maple, Sweet Goodbye was odds-on but finished second behind Pinkarella, who set the stakes record of 1:23.38 for the distance and almost broke the track record for seven furlongs. After a more than six-month break, Sweet Goodbye returned to the races in January at Laurel Park, and needed two more starts before rounding into top form.
In her last start March 26, the mare returned to Charles Town and romped by 11 1/2 lengths in an open allowance test at seven furlongs in 1:25.46 on a fast track.
“Last year, she ran second and did a belly flop in the paddock before the race,” Grove said. “Up until this last race, she hadn’t run real awesome since then, but she got herself together and ran really good.
“Everyone was expecting her to go back to her form of last year, and it’s very hard to keep them at her level. She didn’t return this year as strong, but now I think she is as good as she’s going to get. She has an advantage because of her affinity for the track. That’s strong. A lot of horses don’t like those tight turns and she goes around them pretty good.”
There is a chance of rain April 16 but that shouldn’t be a problem for Sweet Goodbye, who has won three of six starts on off tracks. She drew post 3 and will be ridden by regular rider J.D. Acosta as the 5-2 morning-line favorite.
In other stakes on the Classic undercard:
$100,000 Blue & Gold Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs: Zayat Stables’ Black N Beauty, who was steadied and pulled up in his last start Feb. 26 in the grade II Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park, will face six others.
Trained by Dale Romans, Black N Beauty (by Devil His Due) has won at a mile but never has raced around two turns. Since being pulled up, the colt has had a steady series of works at Gulfstream. Rajiv Maragh rides.
$55,000 Webb Snyder Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at 4 1/2 furlongs: Danny Limongelli’s Deputy Daney makes his local debut after finishing first, second, and third in three stakes at Aqueduct. The 4-year-old Officer gelding trained by Hugh McMahon was claimed for $25,000 in January.
West Virginia-bred runners in comebackers: Mark Russell’s Russell Road makes his season’s debut in the $50,000 Confucius Say Stakes for state-bred 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs; Nancy Terhune’s Silver Heartreturns in the $50,000 Original Gold Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares at seven furlongs; and James Carter’s Beware of the Bop resurfaces in a $35,000 overnight handicap for fillies and mares at 4 1/2 furlongs.
A year ago Russell Road won a state-bred stakes on the Classic undercard, one of three wins on the year for the 5-year-old gelding by Wheaton. He hasn’t raced since Nov. 20 but returns off a series of strong local works, including five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 April 7.
Russell Road has won 14 of 21 starts at Charles Town and excels on wet tracks.
Silver Heart has been training well at Laurel for trainer Gary Capuano. The 6-year-old Lion Hearted mare finished third behind the highly regarded Aspenglowin the West Virginia Cavada Breeders Classic last October at Charles Town and has won seven of 21 local starts.
Beware of the Bop, a 5-year-old Bopmare trained by Tim Grams, will tackle open company in the overnight handicap but last year finished third in the open Skipat Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. She hasn’t raced since last June at Colonial Downs but has been working well at Charles Town.
Beware of the Bop has a tough assignment but she has won 11 of 18 starts at Charles Town, including five at the distance. She’s also won five of seven starts on wet tracks.