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Researcher delivers title defense in Charles Town Classic

Researcher recorded back-to-back wins in the Charles Town Classic (Melissa Wirth/Horsephotos.com)

Kinross Corporation's RESEARCHER (Two Smart) joined the millionaire's club Saturday night at Charles Town with a game victory in the $1 million Charles Town Classic. The bay gelding was a 2 1/4-length winner of the nine-furlong test a year ago as well, and managed to avoid the troubled beginning that three of his rivals had in this year's running.

Jockey Luis Perez angled Researcher over to the rail from his outside 9 post when the gates opened and the Jeff Runco trainee raced in midpack through the first two turns. Understatement (Distorted Humor), breaking from post 6, also headed toward the inside, but in the process moved right in front of Fiddlers Afleet (Northern Afleet), who clipped his heels. Gone Astray (Dixie Union), running just in behind Fiddlers Afleet, clipped that one's heels. Fiddlers Afleet and Gone Astray both stumbled, but quickly recovered.

Understatement continued on to set splits of :23 2/5, :46 3/5 and 1:11 1/5 while closely tracked by Acting Zippy (City Zip) and Redding Colliery (Mineshaft). In the meantime, Researcher was making up ground on the leaders between horses on the backstretch. As Acting Zippy faded nearing the final turn, Redding Colliery ranged up to challenge Understatement, effectively blocking Researcher, who had been about to slip between the pair. Perez sent Researcher wide and the six-year-old veteran took command entering the short run to the wire. He finished up in 1:49.94 over the fast dirt track, just missing the 1:49.76 record he set last year when scoring a dominating 22 1/4-length allowance score.

The stewards reviewed the first turn incident before declaring the result official.

Researcher was sent off the near 4-1 third pick and rewarded his supporters with payouts of $9.80, $4.40 and $3.80. Awesome Gem (Awesome Again) put in a strong rally but could never get to the winner, returning $5.20 and $3 at 4-1 for overtaking Redding Colliery by three parts of a length on the line. Redding Colliery was worth $5.20 at 7-1, and the exotics totaled $64.80 (exacta) and $515.60 (trifecta).

Indian Dance (Indian Charlie) completed the 9-4-10-7 superfecta that gave back $3,571.20 and was followed under the wire by 3-1 favorite Understatement, Acting Zippy, Gone Astray, Encaustic (Broad Brush), No Advantage (Posse) and Fiddlers Afleet. Enriched (High Brite), Tizway (Tiznow) and Wicked B. Havior (Unbridled's Song) didn't draw in from the also-eligible list.

The $600,000 winner's share of this one boosted Researcher's earnings to $1,400,129 to go along with his 26-13-6-2 career mark. Ten of those wins have now come at Charles Town, including back-to-back victories in the 2008-2009 H.B.P.A. Governor's Cup H. as well as his two Charles Town Classics. The bay gelding also scored in the 2008 runnings of the Queen's County H. (G3) and Mountaineer Mile H. and owns runner-up efforts in those two events from last year.

Researcher is out of the Apalachee mare Wild Magnolia and comes from the family of 1970 champion two-year-old colt Hoist the Flag (Tom Rolfe).

One race prior to the Charles Town Classic, PINKARELLA (Malibu Moon) posted a dominating 6 1/2-length victory in the $250,000 Sugar Maple S. for trainer Doug O'Neill. Grabbing the lead soon after the start, the bay four-year-old established fractions of :23 3/5, :46 3/5 and 1:10 3/5 before stopping the clock in 1:23 1/5 under jockey Travis Dunkelberger.

Owned by Flintridge Stable and STD Racing Stable, Pinkarella was making her Charles Town debut in this spot having raced exclusively in California and Florida during her short career. The filly, third in last year's Santa Paula S. (G3) at Santa Anita, entered here off a well-beaten fifth in the Inside Information S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park. She improved her record to 8-4-0-1, $235,800.

Also on Charles Town's Saturday evening card, RUSSELL ROAD (Wheaton) captured the $50,000 Springtime H. by 3 1/4 lengths, JU JITSU JAX (Tiger Ridge) eked out a head score in the $75,000 Webb Snyder S. and COMEDERO (Posse) triumphed by nine lengths in the $100,000 Blue and Gold S.


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