Charles Town Classic (G2) — Race 12 (10:18 p.m. ET)
Art Collector looked like his old and better self when taking the Alydar S. at Saratoga in wire-to-wire fashion earlier this month. On Friday night, the four-year-old will look to take down his first graded win in more than a year in the $800,000 Charles Town Classic (G2). The 1 1/8-mile Charles Town Classic, run over three turns, tops a stakes-laden evening card at the eponymous West Virginia track.
Winner last season of the Blue Grass (G2) over champion filly Swiss Skydiver, Art Collector was sidelined shortly before the Kentucky Derby (G1) and then disappointed in the Preakness (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). Off from early November until late June this year, the Bernardini colt was a lackluster sixth of nine in the Kelly’s Landing S. at Churchill in his comeback, but impressively won the nine-furlong Alydar in his debut for trainer Bill Mott.
“It’s a little bit risky coming in on that short rest, but it’s a nice race to participate in and the purse money is very good,” Mott said. “If we had another week it would be a lot better, but that’s the only drawback.”
Sleepy Eyes Todd will enter his title defense of the Charles Town Classic with something to prove. Last season, the gray son of Paddy O’Prado proved adept at bullrings, like Charles Town and Fonner Park, and in one-turn races like the Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream and Lafayette S. at Keeneland. However, he’s placed only once in four starts this term, though has bankrolled a healthy $1.1 million after placing fourth in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) and fifth in the Saudi Cup (G1).
Others looking to rekindle some of their better form include Grade 3 scorer Warrior’s Charge, most recently second to Maxfield in the Stephen Foster (G2), and the multiple graded-placed Ny Traffic.
“Maxfield is a cut above that group, but he ran second,” trainer Brad Cox said of Warrior’s Charge’s effort in the Stephen Foster. “But it showed he doesn’t have to go to the front and can pass horses.”
Rushie, winner last fall of the Pat Day Mile (G2) and second by a nose to By My Standards in the Oaklawn Mile in April, returns east after modest showings in the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) and San Diego H. (G2). The versatile Restrainedvengence has won stakes on all types of surfaces, most recently the American (G3) over the Santa Anita turf in June.
Earlier on the card is the $400,000 Charles Town Oaks (G3) for three-year-old fillies over a two-turn seven furlongs. The Mott-trained Caramel Swirl figures tough off a dominating entry-level allowance win at Saratoga, while Fantasy (G3) heroine Pauline’s Pearl will look to snap a two-race losing streak for Steve Asmussen. Stakes winner Inject is another probable player for Brad Cox.