Top horses from around the United States have been nominated to the inaugural Charles Town Classic, which could be worth up to $1 million depending on which horses start in the April 18 event.
Conditions for the 1 1/8-mile stakes state any horse that has won a grade I event since April 17, 2007, will compete for a $1-million purse. For grade II winners since that date, the purse will be $750,000; for grade III winners since that date, $600,000. All other entrants will race for $500,000.
In any event, the Classic will be the richest open stakes in the history of Charles Town Races & Slots in West Virginia.
Grade or group I winners Commentator, Dixie Chatter , Einstein , Kurbat, Mast Track , and Santa Teresita are nominated, as are grade or group II winners Alcomo, By Spot, Dry Martini, Macho Again, Magnum, My Pal Charlie, Recapturetheglory, Sir Whimsy, Wayzata Bay, and Zappa.
Kurbat is a group I winner in Chile, while Alcomo and By Spot won group II stakes in Brazil. Kurbat is entered in the $100,000 Fort Harrod Stakes at Keeneland April 10.
Commentator’s connections—owner Tracy Farmer and trainer Nick Zito—have told Charles Town officials the 8-year-old Distorted Humor gelding is scheduled to launch his 2009 campaign in the Charles Town Classic. Commentator, a winner of 13 of his 21 races, has been posting sparkling works in Florida.
Helen Pitts-Blasi, trainer of Midnight Cry Stable’s Einstein, couldn’t be immediately reached to comment on whether the 7-year-old Brazilian-bred Spend a Buck horse will race in the Classic.
Terry Finley, president of West Point Thoroughbreds, which owns Macho Again, said the 4-year-old Macho Uno colt missed some training time and won’t make the Classic. Macho Again won the grade II New Orleans Handicap March 14 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
“We’ve been taking it light with him,” Finley said. “He hasn’t worked since the New Orleans Handicap. We won’t be able to make it.”
The top local nominee is Rutledge Farm’s Researcher, trained by Jeff Runco. Researcher, a 5-year-old Virginia-bred gelding by Two Smart, set the Charles Town record for 1 1/8 miles of 1:49.76 in winning an open allowance race by more than 22 lengths March 28. The time is rapid given the fact horses must negotiate three turns in a 1 1/8-mile race at Charles Town, which has a three-quarter-mile track.
Researcher won the grade III Queens County Handicap at Aqueduct last year, so he would compete for $600,000. He has won six times and finished second three times in 10 starts at Charles Town.
The field will be limited to 10 starters, the maximum permitted at Charles Town. Entries for the April 18 program will be taken April 15.
More than 50 horses were nominated to the Classic, one of six stakes on the April 18 program that begins at 6 p.m. EDT. Fillies and mares will be highlighted in the $250,000 Sugar Maple Stakes, a seven-furlong (two turns) test that attracted more than 45 nominees.
Jeff Singer’s Cowgirls Don't Cry, winner of the 2008 Shuvee Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park, prepped for the Sugar Maple in a March 28 allowance race at Charles Town. The Mike Trombetta-trained filly won the seven-furlong race in a fast 1:25.75.
Other Sugar Maple nominees are grade I winner Mistical Plan, whose trainer, Doug O’Neill, went three-for-three at Charles Town in 2008, and Royale Michele, winner of the grade II Barbara Fritchie Handicap this year for trainer Matt Kintz.