The winner of the inaugural Charles Town Classic in 2009 seems well on his way to making a bid for top honors again this year.
On March 27, Rutledge Farm’s Researcher, in his second start of the year, toyed with five foes in an open allowance test that served as the local Classic prep at Charles Town Races & Slots. Mark Russell’s Russell Road, a nine-time stakes winner at Charles Town, finished second in his second start of the year.
Researcher, a 6-year-old Virginia-bred gelding by Two Smart out of the Apalachee mare Wild Magnolia, won the 1 1/16-mile event in 1:45.21 on a fast track. He defeated Russell Road by 6 1/2 lengths under Luis Perez.
Trained by Jeff Runco, Researcher won last year’s Charles Town Classic, for which the purse was tied to graded-stakes victories. Researcher ran for a $600,000 purse having come into the race with a grade III win.
This year, the Classic purse of $1 million has no such conditions. Thus, the winner of the April 17 event will get $600,000.
“We expected him to run his race,” Runco told Charles Town officials after Researcher’s March 27 win. “Now, we’ll keep our fingers crossed that he comes out of it well, and get ready for the race in three weeks.”
Hermen Greenberg, who owned Rutledge Farm near Middleburg, Va., died in February at age 89. Greenberg bred 1993 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Colonial Affair.
The connections of a host of older runners are eyeing the Charles Town Classic, run at 1 1/8 miles around three turns. Nominations close April 3. The field is limited to 10 starters on Charles Town’s three-quarter-mile track.