Millionaire Researcher Back in Training
Following his repeat triumph in the 2010 Charles Town Classic, Researcher’s new owner, Zohar Ben-Dov’s Kinross Corp., decided to send him off to a new career in the steeplechase ranks despite his victory over some of the nation’s top handicap horses.
As it turns out, that wasn’t the only surprising twist in the now 7-year-old gelding’s career. With the world of jump racing not being to Researcher’s liking, he appears headed back to flat racing following a four-furlong work at Laurel Park Feb. 24. The work was the fastest of 23 recorded at the distance.
With his first workout since last year’s Charles Town Classic behind him, Researcher’s connections have their sights set on a third consecutive victory in West Virginia’s richest horse race, which will be run April 16.
“The goal is to get him there,” Ben-Dov told track officials about the $1 million Charles Town Classic (gr. III) April 16. “We hope to run him once in a prep race before then and bring him back in April.”
Following his victory in the Queens County (gr. III) at Aqueduct in December 2008 and a 22 1/2-length allowance win in track-record time at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Researcher, a Virginia-bred by Two Smart, took the inaugural Charles Town Classic in 2009 for then owner Herman Greenberg. However, weeks before his attempt to defend his Charles Town Classic title in 2010, Greenberg passed away, which ultimately brought upon the dispersal of his stable.
In the same week the 2010 Charles Town Classic was run, it was announced that Researcher had been sold by Greenberg’s estate and would wear the Kinross Corp.’s colors during his title defense. Despite the change in ownership, the result remained the same as Researcher beat all challengers in the 1 1/8-mile race, including eventual Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) winner Awesome Gem and Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) winner Redding Colliery.
Following the 2010 Charles Town Classic, his new owners decided to transition Researcher to the jump ranks. As his steeplechase career appeared not headed in the right direction, the decision was made to return him to flat racing. Researcher has bankrolled nearly $1.4 million in career earnings.
Researcher won the first two Classics under the care of trainer Jeff Runco. Since the 2010 Charles Town Classic, however, Kinross’ steeplechase trainer, Neil Morris, has been overseeing Researcher’s training.
“We have an all-weather track here, similar to the one in Kentucky,” said Ben-Dov, whose facility is located in neighboring Virginia. “He has been doing well here, and we sent him to Laurel for his first work.”
The layoff has the potential to create other roadblocks for Researcher, including his ability to draw into the race. The first preference for the Charles Town Classic is given to graded-stakes winners in the last two years, with second preference going to those with the highest graded-stakes earnings since April 16, 2009. Researcher is without a graded stakes win and only $28,100 in graded earnings over that timeframe.
This is the first year the Classic will have graded status.
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