With Hansen expected to bow out of the $400,000 Red Legend Stakes in favor of the Iowa Derby (gr. III) June 30, the seven-furlong test of 3-year-olds at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races shapes up as an evenly-matched contest of nine.
The Red Legend highlights a Saturday night card that includes five other stakes, including the $100,000 Wild and Wonderful. The Red Legend, which immediately follows the Wild and Wonderful, is the 10th race on the program with a 10:30 p.m. EDT post. The race is contested around two turns over the Charles Town bullring.
Il Villano, a good third behind the streaking Trinniberg at odds of 15-1 in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens (gr. II) on the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) undercard June 9, drew the rail for the Red Legend. Chuck Russo's Kentucky-bred gray/roan son of Pollard's Vision , trained by Susan Crowell, was a 4 3/4-length winner of the Chick Lang Stakes on the Preakness (gr. I) program May 19 at Pimlico Race Course.
A two-time stakes winner at 2, Il Villano started the year with a third-place finish in the Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack, followed by a runner-up effort in the Hutcheson (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park. Never worse than third in eight lifetime starts, the colt has four victories and earnings of $270,300.
Il Vilano, who posted a bullet half-mile workout at Parx Racing of :47 flat breezing June 23 (best of 31), is to be ridden by Jose Flores.
"I think he ran very well in the Woody Stephens, and it absolutely gave me the confidence that he could indeed run with the best," said Crowell of the Parx based Il Villano. "He's run against some tough horses, but I am very confident with him in this race."
Grade III winner Majestic City invades West Virginia from Southern California for Bloom Racing Stable and trainer Peter Miller. The Kentucky-bred son of City Zip makes his second start of the year in the Red Legend. The chestnut colt ran third of five in a top-level allowance race over six furlongs on grass at Betfair Hollywood Park June 3.
The Red Legend will mark Majestic City's first start on a conventional dirt track in his 8 race career, another fact that doesn't concern his trainer.
"He trains over the Cushion Track at Hollywood and gets over it very well," Miller said. "That surface is a lot like regular dirt, so I don't think it's going to be an issue."
During a strong 2011 campaign, Majestic City won a pair of stakes, including the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) last summer. He would later miss by a neck to Drill in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) when placed third and also ran second in the Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland. He finished the season well beaten in both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) and the CashCall Futurity (gr. I).
Travis Dunkelberger, currently sixth in the jockey standings at Charles Town, takes the mount on Majestic City for the first time. Majestic City was assigned a feathery 116 pounds, eight fewer than Il Villano.
"It never hurts you to have a rider who is familiar with the track, with it being a six-furlong track and all," Miller said. "And getting a leading rider at the track is even better."
Innocent Man, fourth after setting the pace in the 1 1/16-mile Pegasus Stakes (gr. III) June 17 at Monmouth Park, gets a cut back in distance and will add blinkers for trainer Patrick Biancone. The son of Henny Hughes, co-owned by Biancone and Kona Stables, tired to third in the Chick Lang when favored at odds of 11-10 before that.
The chestnut gelding, who began his career with impressive back-to-back wins, has been favored in all four of his starts. Mario Gutierrez has the mount for the first time.
Flashy Dresser has the benefit of a win over the course, taking the $250,000 Robert Hilton Memorial on Charles Town Classic night April 14. Owned and trained by Frederick Seitz, the Flashy Bull colt won the Hilton by one length over Mr. Handsome, who is also entered in the Red Legend. Flashy Dresser races without Lasix.
After three consecutive wins this spring to begin his career, Flashy Dancer tried the American Turf Stakes (gr. IIT) in his most recent start May 4 at Churchill Downs, finishing 11th in his grass debut.
Flashy Dresser's first graded stakes effort was compromised by a spill that occurred at the top of the stretch and forced the colt to swerve to avoid fallen jockey Javier Castellano.
"The race was a total toss out," said Seitz.
Eddie Castro rides Flashy Dancer for the first time.
Sum of the Parts has back-to-back wins for trainer Tom Amoss, including a neck victory in the Tom Ridge Stakes on Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs in his last start May 15.
Mill House's Doctor Chit, making his debut on dirt, also comes into his initial stakes try on a roll for trainer Todd Pletcher. The War Front colt graduated in his second start by 8 1/2 lengths on Polytrack at Keeneland April 14. He then came back with a three-length allowance tally at Woodbine going seven furlongs a month later.
Always Smiling ships in from Delaware Park with two wins and two seconds in four starts for trainer Steve Brown.
$400,000 Red Legend Stakes (Race 10, 10:30 p.m.), 3YOs, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Il Villano (KY), J L Flores, 124, S L Crowell
2. Jake N Elwood (PA), K Frey, 124, M P Petro
3. Majestic City (KY), T L Dunkelberger, 116, P Miller
4. Doctor Chit (KY), J Castellano, 121, T A Pletcher
5. Sum of the Parts (KY), L R Goncalves, 124, T M Amoss
6. Innocent Man (KY), M Gutierrez, 121, P L Biancone
7. Hansen (KY), R A Dominguez. 124, M J Maker
8. Mr. Handsome (KY), E D Rodriguez, 119, T J Tullock Jr.
9. Flashy Dresser (KY), E Castro, 124, F J Seitz
10. Always Smiling (MD), A Bocachica, 121, S R Brown
Blinkers On: Innocent Man