Stakes Preview – Sunny Ridge Can Upset the CT Classic

The start of the baseball season has made updates to this blog a bit more infrequent than we’d like, but after a rain-out today, let’s take a look at the Charles Town Classic, the 11th today at Charles Town in West Virginia.

Charles Town Classic (Charles Town, R11) – The 8-5 morning line favorite is #1 Stanford, for trainer Todd Pletcher. Stanford won this race last year, when he set a crawling pace over the three-turns. In his three races this year, he’s won two – both times when he was clear and able to control the race, and he was beaten two-back by Imperative, who shows up here, in the Poseidon at Gulfstream on January 28th. Stanford can win, but he won’t be able to control today with other speed signed on, and we’ll gladly take a shot against him.

Looch Racing Stables has three in here, one of whom is #8 Cautious Giant (20-1), who looks like a rabbit to help #6 War Story (5-1) and #5 Imperative (3-1). Imperative ran well to win the Poseidon and gets Javier Castellano today, but he only shows up some of the time. He did win this race a few years ago, aided by a big pace collapse, but feels like too short of a price. War Story ran decently in the Pegasus two-back but did not run well in the one-mile Hooper last time. His big figure win in the December 17th Queens County was aided by a strong rail bias and we think he’s overmatched here.

#4 Matt King Coal (8-1) is a speed type for trainer Linda Rice. He’s a talented runner, but we’ve had the nagging feeling he’s better going one mile than 9 furlongs. He’ll have to improve his figures a bit too, and that feels like a tough ask considering the projected pace scenario.

The horse that should benefit most from the pace is #2 Sunny Ridge (6-1). Jason Servis trains this Jersey-bred who has come into his own this winter with wins (albeit with good trips) in the Jazil and Stymie at Aqueduct. He’s always run well on the inner, and has to go the three-turns in the Charles Town bullring today, which is a concern (edit – he ran 2nd to Exaggerator in the Delta Jackpot so the tighter turns should be fine, my error). Still, he’ll be a fair price that fits the projected shape of the race.

It’s the year of the Jersey-bred (Irish War Cry won the Wood Memorial and Green Gratto won the Carter two weeks ago at Aqueduct), so why can’t Sunny Ridge get a graded stakes win today?

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