I know, I know, it's not Keeneland, but is anyone up for a road-trip to Charles Town on Saturday, April 18? Word is the venerable Commentator will be running there in the $1 million Charles Town Classic. Nominations close this coming Saturday, so we’ll have a better idea what other “big” names might show up. One likely starter, at least according to the West Point Thoroughbreds’ website, is Macho Again who comes in off a winning effort in the G2 New Orleans Handicap. Wouldn’t that be sweet? The Classic is only one of five stakes slated for that date, with the others being the $250k Sugar Maple Stakes (7f, f/m 4yo+), $100k Blue and Gold Stakes (7f, 3yo), $100k Webb Snyder Stakes (4.5f, 3yo+), and $50k Salerno Stakes (7f, WV 3yo+).
This weekend’s racing just keeps getting better and better. In addition to the top 3-year-old races—both those for colts and fillies—are a plethora of other graded stakes, including the G3 Skip Away at Gulfstream. Besides G1 Donn runner-up Finallymadeit, the race features the apparently-rejuvenated Fierce Wind (owned by Halsey Minor) and the “Peruvian mystery horse” (as he will forever be known) Tomcito who makes his first start since last May’s G2 Peter Pan, for new trainer Thomas Albertrani. Ah, he gets Jose Lezcano up! I always thought this would be a good horse-jockey matchup, so I’m looking forward to getting a nice price on Tomcito. (Hope ever burns eternal, I know.)
Immediately prior to the G1 Wood Memorial, the G3 Excelsior promises us a good old-fashioned reunion of last year’s Kentucky Derby wanna-bes and has-beens: Barrier Reef, Alaazo, Cool Coal Man, Giant Moon, and Atoned. Boy, doesn’t that sound like all the losing tickets I threw out last year? Toss in a pair of Chilean invaders—Real Merchant and Kurbat—and you have the makings of an amusing little race. Unfortunately, it’s one that likely to prove, yet again, just how incredibly weak last year’s 3-year-old male crop was. I’ll put my money on the two South Americans, thank you very much!
Very sad news that Thistledown has canceled this year’s G2 Ohio Derby, not because the race itself was all that significant in the grand scheme of things, but because it was a show-piece event for the track—one that had been run for 74 years, with winners including Black Gold, Our Native, Broad Brush, Brass Hat, Skip Away, and the Kentucky Oaks winning filly Paradisical. How many more of these old-time races are we going to lose?