from Charles Town Races & Slots
Prominent names are expected for the June 20 Charles Town Races & Slots Sprint Festival, which will feature five stakes worth a total of $750,000.
Co-features for the program that begins at 6 p.m. EDT at the West Virginia track are the $250,000 Red Legend Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, and the $250,000 Charles Town Dash for 3-year-olds and up at 4 1/2 furlongs.
Harold Queen’s Big Drama, fifth in this year’s Preakness Stakes (gr. I), continued his preparations for the Red Legend June 7 by working five furlongs in 1:00.40 at Monmouth Park. Big Drama, who earlier this year finished first in the grade II Swale Stakes only to be disqualified for interference, is trained by David Fawkes and will be ridden by Eibar Coa.
Azul Leon, away since the grade I Cash Call Futurity in December, is expected to return in the Red Legend for trainer Doug O’Neill. Following wins in the Hollywood Juvenile Stakes (gr. III) and Best Pal Stakes (gr. II), Azul Leon finished ninth in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
A representative for O’Neill said the horse would fly from California to West Virginia on June 16.
Local favorite Russell Road, who loves the Charles Town surface, is expected for the Red Legend. Russell Road won the $100,000 Blue & Gold Stakes on Charles Town Classic night in April.
“Our plan is to run,” owner Mark Russell said. “This is our track, this is where we run, and he’s a very popular horse here.”
Flying Dutchman Stable’s Bunker Hill, nipped by Russell Road in the Blue & Gold, worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 at Monmouth June 7 in preparation for the Red Legend. Stakes winner It Happened Again, trained Larry Jones, also is probable for the race, while several others, including multiple stakes winner Great Love, are under consideration.
The Red Legend will be run around two turns on the three-quarter-mile Charles Town track.
The Charles Town Dash, the richest 4 1/2-furlong race in the United States, has attracted Ikigai, winner of the Mr. Prospector Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park earlier this year.
“We’ll probably van him up from (Colonial Downs in Virginia) the day before,” trainer Martin Wolfson said of Ikigai. “I’d say it’s definitely possible we use this as a prep for the (Summit of Speed at Calder Race Course).”
Jermaine Bridgmohan is expected to ride Ikigai.
Joey P., the defending champ in the Dash, will seek a repeat for trainer Ben Perkins Jr. Joey P., who comes off an 8 1/2-length win in the John J. Reilly Stakes at Monmouth, will likely follow a similar path as last year and van down from New Jersey the week of the race.
Paul McClelland’s Trust or Bust, winner of four in a row, including two stakes, is coming into the race in great shape, according to his trainer. “Knock on wood, I couldn’t ask for him to be doing better,” McClelland said. “For that money, there will be some tough ones, but we’ll be there, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Trust or Bust won the $100,000 Webb Snyder Stakes at 4 1/2 furlongs on Charles Town Classic night.
West Coast-based Sea of Pleasure could make the cross-country trip for the Charles Town Dash. Sea of Pleasure worked five furlongs in :58.40 at Hollywood Park June 10. Sea of Pleasure’s status may rest in where he is placed in the weights; the Dash is a high weights-preferred event.
The other stakes on the program are the $100,000 Lady Charles Town for 3-year-old fillies at 4 1/2 furlongs; the $100,000 Wild & Wonderful for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs; and the $50,000 Fancy Buckles for accredited West Virginia-bred fillies and mares at 4 1/2 furlongs.