Local hope My Pal Charlie made some new friends when he put it all together in the $515,000 Super Derby (gr. II) (VIDEO) for his first stakes victory for owner B. Wayne Hughes Sept. 20 at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City.
The 3-year-old son of Indian Charlie enjoyed an absolute dream run for jockey Curt Borque, who was aboard him for the first time, to dash away from his rivals through the lane en route to a 4 1/4-length win at odds of 6-1.
Second to the highly regarded Pyro in both the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) and the Northern Dancer Stakes (gr. III) this spring, My Pal Charlie was making his sixth consecutive start in graded stakes company. He found an excellent spot to get the job done.
“We’re thrilled to death to win this kind of race," said winning trainer Albert Stall Jr. "He’s had a great year. He was second in the Northern Dancer to Pyro. He was second in the Louisiana Derby to Pyro and he’s been contending in other Derbys, but this is the win he deserved.”
The bay colt was in perfect stalking position along the inside behind the pacesetting Stungbythestorm and Star Production all the way through the final turn. He found room at the rail as the front-runner gave way and got first jump on the rallying Forest Command, who was making a bid on the far outside. In the homestretch, My Pal Charlie soon took command and was drawing away with ease in the final eighth of a mile under mild urging from Borque. The winning time for the 1 1/8-mile journey for 3-year-olds was 1:48.36 over a fast track, just off the track mark of 1:48.14 set by Mocha Express in 1999.
“I was just the pilot,” Borque said. “He was sharp. Going into the turn he was pulling against me. I just needed a little running room and some racing luck and everything worked out great.”
Macho Again, the 6-5 favorite in the field of 10 under Kent Desormeaux, edged second choice Forest Command and Robby Albarado by a neck for second but was never a threat to the winner. Macho Again, the winner of Saratoga's Jim Dandy (gr. II) July 27, ranged into contention as My Pal Charlie made his bid for the lead but lacked the needed punch in the lane to catch the winner. Forest Command, a nicely bred son of Monarchos making his stakes debut for trainer John Ward, tired in his first try beyond seven furlongs.
Quarter-mile fractions for the opening six furlongs were moderate as Stungbythestorm raced slightly off the rail -- :23.14, :47.65 and 1:11.81-- before My Pal Charlie finished strong.
Borque said he was waiting for the right time -- and some space -- to make his move.
“I thought I had a lot of horse leaving the gate,” Borque said. “When I turned up the backside I was very comfortable with the position I was in -- seeing the race unfold in front of me with one horse hanging out. Every time I saw that one horse hanging out, I got a little more confidence. I just needed some running room.
“I didn’t want to go four- or five-wide and be a hero. When (Stungbythestorm) took a step out going into the turn and (Forest Command) moved some, I just dropped my hands and he took me there.”
My Pal Charlie was coming off a fifth-place finish in the West Virginia Derby (gr. III) at Mountaineer Park Aug. 2, a race in which he pressed the pace into the stretch before tiring. That had been his pattern in most of his races since jumping into stakes company following an allowance victory at Fair Grounds in February. The Super Derby win, his third in 11 starts, was worth $275,000, which more than doubles My Pal Charlie's earnings to $534,163.
Sent off as the third choice, he paid $15, $5.80, and $3.60. He topped a $2 exacta worth $36.80 with West Point Thoroughbreds' Macho Again, who returned $2.80 and $2.20. Forest Command paid $2.80 to show.
A $300,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase in 2006, My Pal Charlie was bred in Kentucky by John R. Penn. He is out of Shahalo, by Halo.
Golden Yank finished fourth, followed by Stungbythestorm, Real Appeal, Mambo Meister, King Darius, Numismatist and Star Production.
View Stakes Details and Full Equibase Chart