Bwana Charlie Charges to Amsterdam Win

Bwana Charlie Charges to Amsterdam Win
Photo: AP/NYRA Adam Coglianese
Bwana Charlie crosses the finish line ahead of Pomeroy to win the Amsterdam, Saturday at Saratoga.
Heiligbrodt Stable's Bwana Charlie, ridden by Shane Sellers, had favored Pomeroy measured in the stretch, pulling away in the final sixteenth of a mile for a three-quarters of a length victory in the $150,000 Amsterdam (gr. II) for 3-year-old sprinters at Saratoga Race Course.

Last down the backstretch after a poor start, Bwana Charlie moved into striking position while five wide on the turn, split rivals in the stretch and pulled even with Pomeroy, who had opened up by a couple of lengths briefly in the lane for Edgar Prado. Bwana Charlie took command in the final 70 yards. The final time for the six-furlong Amsterdam, Saratoga's leading prep race for the King's Bishop (gr. I), was a quick 1:09 2/5 on a fast track.

Weigilia, who defeated Bwana Charlie by 4 1/2 lengths in winning the Carry Back (gr. III) at Calder Race Course July 10, overcame a stumble at the start and finished third in the field of seven. Smokeume was fourth, a half-length behind Weigilia.

Bwana Charlie, trained by Steve Asmussen, won for the first time since taking the Lafayette (gr. III) at Keeneland April 4. He had lost his last three starts, including a third-place finish in the Carry Back, which was his first race after a two-month layoff.

Classy Migration broke on top and led through an opening quarter mile of :21 4/5 before being overtaken by Quick Action, who clipped off the half-mile in a quick :44 3/5. Pomeroy, never far off the pace, moved into position four wide on the turn and looked like a winner after easily overtaking Quick Action in the early stretch run. But the 8-5 favorite offered little resistance when challenged on his outside in the final furlong by Bwana Charlie, who finished under brisk urging from Sellers while edging away late.

"The race set up extremely well for him," said Asmussen. "Shane took advantage of it and gave him the perfect ride. Since he was a stakes winner at seven-eighths, we were concerned if he could get the three-quarters. He ran a nice race here today (in preparation) for the King's Bishop. Going into the turn, I was worried if he was fast enough. And when he came out for the stretch, I could see Shane looking for some place to go."

The $250,000 King's Bishop, for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, is on Travers Day Aug. 28.

"The only stakes races we have won here have been with special horses," Asmussen said. "Good horses don't win stakes races here. It takes a great horse to win a stakes here. And this one solidifies him as one of the top three-year-old sprinters in the country"

"The race set up exactly as I wanted," Sellers said. "He's a big horse and he's very fast. Once he gets into his speed early, you can't get it back. It's not that he runs off on you, but it's due to his big stride. I knew looking at the race on paper that I had a good shot, but I had to find the best trip for him.

"When we came out of the gate, he stumbled and I hit my arm (right shoulder on gate), so I had horses in front of me. At the quarter-pole, I wasn't really riding yet, and I knew I had enough horse to get the job done. When I called on him, he gave it to me and I knew (Pomeroy) had a really good trip. So, I wanted to see how much I would get, and he gave me enough to get the job done."

Pomeroy, who was co-highweight with Bwana Charlie and Weigelia at 123 pounds, also did enough to get to the King's Bishop.

"I was using this race as a prep for the King's Bishop and he ran good," said trainer Patrick Biancone. "We just ran into a better horse today. Perhaps the King's Bishop will be the revenge race for us."

Bwana Charlie, a bay son of Indian Charlie-Shahalo (Halo) who sold for $240,000 in March 2003, improved his career record to 4-3-5 in 12 starts. His $90,000 winning purse improved his career earnings to $288,430.

The winner paid $9.40, $4 and $2.80. Pomeroy returned $3.30 and $2.60, completing a $28.80 exacta. Weigelia was $3.30 to show.

Classy Migration was fifth, followed by Quick Action and Mass Media.

(Chart, Equibase)

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