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With the second-largest purse of the year offered by Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia's only graded stakes race for fillies up for grabs, a wide-ranging, full field of 11 3-year-old fillies will battle for the top prize on Friday night in the $400,000 Charles Town Oaks (G3) at seven furlongs.
The Oaks, now in its 13th year, is the main undercard attraction on a card featuring the $800,000 Charles Town Classic (G2) and total purses topping $2 million. Post time for the first race is 5:00 P.M.
Being a two-turn race at a sprint distance, the Oaks has attracted trainers sending sprinters they hope will hold their speed against routers that figure to have a stamina edge.
Race 11 at Charles Town on Friday, August 27 - Post 9:45 PM
|1||Caramel Swirl||5-2||Junior Alvarado
|2||Street Lute||8-1||Xavier Perez
|3||Pauline's Pearl||3-1||Brian Hernandez, Jr.
|4||Moon Swag||10-1||Deshawn Parker
|7||Competitive Speed||10-1||Leonel Reyes
|8||R Adios Jersey||12-1||Paco Lopez
|9||Miss Leslie||20-1||J. Acosta
|Saffie Joseph, Jr.|
One of those who believes he's found what his filly wants to do is Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott who sends out Caramel Swirl for Godolphin off a sharp three-length score in an allowance July 24 at Saratoga. The Union Rags filly raced forwardly and sailed home under a hand ride by jockey Junior Alvarado. The race was an impressive rebound after a dull seventh-place finish in the Eight Belles (G3) on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs.
"She's a nice filly," Mott said, "Always well thought of. We tried stretching her up to a mile, two turns, and it didn't work, so we shortened her back up and it worked well. Six and seven furlongs are probably good distances for her."
Alvarado has the return call on Caramel Swirl who sits as the 5-2 morning line favorite for the Charles Town Oaks.
Brad Cox, the second-leading trainer in the country, sends out Inject for owner Louis Wright. The daughter of Frosted out of the Grade 1 winning mare Appealing Zophie, is a half-sister to 2017 Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit, and Cox is looking to build Inject's credentials for a future career as a broodmare.
"Our filly doesn't have any experience around a racetrack as tight as Charles Town," Cox said, "But it's a very nice purse, a graded race, and will add to this filly's value if she can finish 1-2-3. We hope she'll be a big-time broodmare. She's got the pedigree."
Inject finished third last out in the Victory Ride (G3) at Belmont Park and has the services of Florent Geroux on Friday evening.
The Oaks will feature no shortage of horses who tried the major filly races in the spring: Stonestreet Stables' Pauline's Pearl won the Fantasy (G3) at Oaklawn Park before finishing eighth behind the powerful Malathaat in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) for leading trainer Steve Asmussen while John C. Minchello's Competitive Speed who tried her hand in the Kentucky Oaks after back-to-back third place efforts in graded stakes company at Gulfstream Park.
BB Horses' Miss Leslie finished fifth in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at Pimlico for leading Maryland trainer Claudio Gonzalez. Moon Swag, trained by Brendan Walsh, finished fourth in the Ashland (G1) behind the aforementioned Malathaat and most recently came up only a neck short of her first graded stakes triumph in the Indiana Oaks (G3).
Lucky 7 Stables' Street Lute, trained by John Robb, has seven stakes wins sprinting with earnings of $481,720, second only to Pauline's Pearl. The Street Magician filly has never gone around two turns but has been dominant in stakes at Laurel Park, her home track.
"It's a tough race, but what I like about is there's only one or two horses with any speed at all," Robb said. "You can have all the class you want; give me speed all the time. I like the way it's shaping up for that kind of money."
Trainer Ian Wilkes enters Fabricate out of a productive allowance race at Ellis Park while trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. ships Allworthy down from Saratoga, where she's been training after a fourth-place finish in the Monmouth Oaks (G3).
The wildcard in the field could be the undefeated R Adios Jersey for trainer Georgina Baxter who comes into the Charles Town Oaks a perfect 4-for-4 in her career after being made a short priced favorite in each of her starts. Friday will mark the first start outside of Florida for the daughter of Adios Charlie who most recently cruised to a front running score in the restricted Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Lynch Racing LLC's Alayla was also entered in the Charles Town Oaks but sits as the first horse on the also eligible list and would need a defection from the body of the race to run.
The $400,000 Charles Town Oaks is part of Charles Town's Pick 6 sequence starting in Race 8 which will see its jackpot carryover forced out as well as Guaranteed $100,000 Pick 5 and Pick 4 pools which kick off in Race 9 and Race 10 respectively.
Post time for the Charles Town Oaks is set for 9:45 P.M. EST.
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