Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) winner Misremembered and a pair of West Point Thoroughbreds runners, Macho Again and Awesome Gem, lead a group of 65 nominated to the $1 million Charles Town Classic to be run April 17.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Misremembered could come east to make his first start after taking the Big ‘Cap by a half-length over Neko Bay on March 6. Macho Again, winner of the 2009 Stephen Foster (gr. I) and the steady Awesome Gem, remain under consideration for the 1 1/8-mile Classic. Of those two, Awesome Gem appears the more likely starter.
Grade I winner General Quarters is also a possible starter. Winless since his victory in last year’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), General Quarters comes off a game second to Battle Plan in the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II).
Much like General Quarters, another horse who made his mark as a 3-year-old in 2009 is Phipps Stable’s Gone Astray, winner of the Ohio Derby (gr. II). The son of Dixie Union recently finished third in the Razorback Handicap (gr. III) and appears ready to make his next appearance in the Charles Town Classic.
A pair of graded stakes winners on the turf, Rendezvous and Acting Zippy, are also nominated and remain possible for the race. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Rendezvous won the Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) last year before making his last four starts on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface. Acting Zippy, second in the 2009 Wild & Wonderful at Charles Town, earned his graded win in the John B. Connelly Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Sam Houston earlier this year.
If Steve Asmussen, trainer of four stakes winners at Charles Town in 2009, is to have his first starter in the Classic, he’ll have a trio of horses to choose from. Asmussen trainees Friesan Fire, who recently missed the New Orleans Handicap with a foot abscess, Soul Warrior, who won last year’s West Virginia Derby (gr. II), and Tone it Down are all nominated.
Barring any setbacks, one graded winner certain to make his next start in the race is Rutledge Farm’s Researcher. The 2009 Charles Town Classic winner recently made an impressive return to Charles Town with a dominating win in an optional claiming allowance for trainer Jeff Runco.
The non-graded winners are led by Paul Pompa’s Understatement, a multiple stakes winner in New York. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Understatement has captured both the Evening Attire and Stymie Handicap this year on Aqueduct’s inner dirt track.