Las Vegas, NV - Hollywood Casino at Charles Town will play host to the biggest race of this weekend - the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic will be contested on Saturday, April 18. A tremendous purse of $1.5 million will be on the line for horses four years old and upward willing to go 1 1/8 miles on Charles Town's dirt track.
A field of nine have been confirmed for the Charles Town Classic - eight of which will be chasing Shared Belief. It is race 12 on Charles Town's Saturday card with a post time is 6:05 PM. Here is a look into the past performances of all nine entries for this lucrative Grade 2 stakes.
Shared Belief 2-5 - Jerry Hollendorfer trained, Jim Rome owned colt rebounded from a controversial fourth as favorite in the Breeders' Cup Classic - his only career loss with a good win in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes December 26 and followed that with another win by 1 1/2 over California Chrome in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes February 7 and a terrific score last time out in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap March 7. The 2013 Eclipse award winner for two year old colts won the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes September 27, the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Derby July 5, an Allowance at Golden Gate May 26, the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity by 5 3/4 lengths, the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes and a MSW at first asking. Shared Belief had seven convincing wins by a combined 40 lengths before the Breeders' Cup and has won three straight graded stakes races since. Translation - he's the hottest horse on the planet right now! Shared Belief tries for his eleventh win in 12 starts on Saturday in his first start outside California with Mike Smith getting the honor of riding the overwhelming favorite and 123 pound highweight.
Moreno 7-2 - has looked pretty good in two starts this year - a third in the Grade 2 New Orleans Stakes at Fair Grounds March 28 followed a second behind Shared Belief in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap March 7. He struggled before that - a fourteenth place finish, 33 lengths behind Shared Belief in the Breeders' Classic followed a ninth in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup September 27. This after good second in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga August 30 and a terrific win at 10-1 odds in the $1.5 million Grade 1 Whitney Stakes in front running fashion August 2. He also had a good second in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap July 5 and a decent third behind Game On Dude and Imperative in the 2014 Charles Town Classic April 19. Other notable results include a win in the 2013 Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes in impressive fashion by seven lengths and a pair of good seconds - in the 2013 Travers and in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx September 21, 2013. Moreno has shown some good form but isn't afraid to deliver a clunker as well. He has three wins, eight seconds and four third place finishes in 25 career starts and looks like Shared Belief's biggest challenge Saturday. Cornelio Velasquez gets the call from gate 6.
General A Rod 12-1 - Todd Pletcher trainee raced all three legs of last year's Kentucky Derby finishing seventh in the Belmont, an OK fourth in the Preakness and eleventh in the Kentucky Derby. He was third before that in the Grade 1 Florida Derby last March 29 after a second behind Wildcat Red in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth February 22 and a win in the minor Gulfstream Park Derby over Wildcat Red in his third career start. Last time out was a win in the minor Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay March 7 which followed a fourth in an Allowance Optional Claiming and seven months away from the track. General A Rod now has three wins, two seconds and a third place finish in 10 career starts and will be looking for a breakthrough in graded stakes company with the legendary John Velazquez in the saddle from post 7.
Vyjack 12-1 - won his first four career starts including a pair of graded stakes scores at Aqueduct - the Grade 2 Jerome Stakes and the 2013 Grade 3 Gotham Stakes to start 2014 but has been up and down since. He won the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap four starts back - September 27 and followed that with a fifth in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile in November. He has just one start this year - a fifth in the minor Stymie Stakes at Aqueduct March 23 which followed an OK second in the minor Queens County Stakes in December. Vyjack has been competitive at times - six wins, a second and two third place finishes in 17 career starts - anything is possible with this entry. Jose Montano has the call from gate 2.
Imperative 15-1 - last year's winner of this race at 26-1, George Papaprodromou trained gelding has 23 career starts with three wins, four seconds and three third place finishes but hasn't been great lately - and eight last time out in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap followed a sixth in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes February 7, a fifteenth in the Group 1 Champions Cup in Japan, a ninth in the Breeders' Cup Classic, a fifth in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes here September 27 and an OK third in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic. He looks for his first win since last year's version of this race with Alonso Quinonez in the irons from the outside post 9.
Street Babe 15-1 - Michael Dilger trained gelding will make just his fourth career start having recorded two wins and a second so far. Last time out was an impressive jump into graded stakes company - a win in the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap at Fair Grounds February 21 after a second in an Allowance and a win at first asking. He looks to keep the impressive upward trend going Saturday with Joel Rosario aboard from post 3.
Page McKenney 20-1 - Mary Eppler trained gelding makes his graded stakes debut but has looked very impressive lately placing in his last 13 starts - eight wins, four seconds and a third place finish over that span. He enters on a two race win streak - both minor stakes races at Laurel Park this year - the Harrison E. Johnson Memorial last time out March 21 and the John B. Campbell Handicap February 14. Page McKenney steps up in company in his first trip to Hawthorne. Horcacio Karamanos will get the call from post 5 Saturday.
Looking Cool 30-1 - won the Grade 3 Iowa Derby in June, 2013 but hasn't quite reached that level again. In fact he hasn't finished better than sixth in four graded stakes starts since. He enters off a third in an Allowance Optional Claiming March 14, an eighth in the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper Stakes February 7 and a second in an Allowance Optional Claiming in January - all results at Gulfstream. Looking Cool looks to end a five race losing streak but enters in so-so form and will have Walter De La Cruz guiding him from the rail.
Warrioroftheroses 50-1 - races in graded stakes company for just the second time Saturday- the first being an eighth place finish in the Grade 3 General George Handicap February, 2014. He enters having placed in four of his last six starts - all at Laurel Park. Last time out was a second in an Allowance Optional Claiming March 26 after a DNF in a similar race in January, a second in an Allowance Optional Claiming in December, a ninth in the minor Richard W. Smalls Stakes in November and a consecutive Allowance Optional Claiming scores last fall. Warrioroftheroses has seven wins, three seconds and four third place finishes on 29 career starts and looked overmatched in this one. Travis Dunkelberger has been tabbed to ride from gate 8.
Race 12 on Charles Town's Saturday card with a Post Time of 6:05 PM.
||W. De La Cruz
||General a Rod