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2022 Charles Town Classic Contenders & Odds

Art Collector Set To Defend Title in Charles Town Classic

Art Collector returns to Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races on Friday, August 26 as he looks to defend his crown in the track’s marquee event of 2022 – the $1,000,000 Charles Town Classic (G2).

The Charles Town Classic joins the Charles Town Oaks (G3), a trio of other stakes each worth $250,000 and a pair of $75,000 restricted stakes on Charles Town’s biggest card of the year, which gets underway at 5:00 P.M. EST. The night also offers some terrific wagering opportunities for horseplayers with a $100,000 guaranteed Pick 5 that kicks off in Race 9, a $100,000 guaranteed Pick 4 that starts with Race 10 and a mandatory distribution of the Charles Town 6-12 carryover that currently sits at $23,527.

Trained by Bill Mott, Art Collector will look to replicate the path he took to West Virginia’s eastern panhandle in 2021 when he also captured the Alydar Stakes at Saratoga prior to his run in the Classic. Unlike last year, Art Collector came into the 2022 Alydar off a lengthy layoff following his trip to the Middle East and the $20 million Saudi Cup but didn’t disappoint with a dominating effort that could have signaled a return to his 2021 form that saw him capture the Charles Town Classic and Grade 1 Woodward.

The Charles Town Classic is scheduled as Race 12 on the card with a post time of 10:18 EST.

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Plot the Dots 20-1 Angel Cruz
118 Lbs
Claudio Gonzalez
2 Mind Control 2-1 John Velazquez
120 Lbs
Todd Pletcher
3 Last Samurai 8-1 Jon Court
120 Lbs
D. Lukas
4 Art Collector 6-5 Luis Saez
118 Lbs
William Mott
5 Treasure Trove 20-1 J. Acosta
120 Lbs
Norman Cash
6 Officiating 8-1 Javier Castellano
120 Lbs
Saffie Joseph, Jr.
7 Muad’dib 10-1 Arnaldo Bocachica
118 Lbs
Jeff Runco
8 Jalen Journey 15-1 Angel Arroyo
118 Lbs
Norman Cash

“The Alydar was a good comeback for him,” said Art Collector’s Hall of Fame conditioner. “It looked like he did everything effortlessly. He came back out of it well. There’s no reason to think he’s not coming into the race as well this year as he was last year.”

Much like Mott, Lunsford is confident in the way the 5-year-old has exited the Alydar and is looking forward to getting back to West Virginia on Friday evening.

“It was a little bit of a tough winter with him, but once we got him back over here, he’s been doing great. He actually ran better this year in the Alydar than he did last year. And he’s been training really well since, so we feel like he’s coming into the race great. He’s in good hands with Bill.”

Art Collector will be trying to buck some recent history as the last eight horses attempting to win back-to-back Charles Town Classics have come up short, with the most recent being Sleepy Eyes Todd in 2021.

Luis Saez has the return call on Art Collector and will leave from Post 4.

Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stable’s multiple Grade 1 winner Mind Control has routinely made his mark in his career in one turn events with the highlights being victories in the Hopeful (G1) as a 2-year-old and the Allen Jerkens (G1) in his sophomore campaign. But last time out in the Salvator Mile (G3) at Monmouth, the now 6-year-old son of Stay Thirsty notched the first two-turn graded stakes triumph in his career by winning a stretch battle with the Grade 1 winning multimillionaire Hot Rod Charlie.

Greyhound Betting

While the Salvator Mile was his first graded win going two-turns, Mind Control tipped off his ability to go longer in his last start of 2021 – a win over Met Mile (G1) winner Silver State in the $200,000 Parx Dirt Mile.

Taking a horse known more for his sprint prowess and stretching him out with success in the Charles Town Classic wouldn’t be something new for Pletcher who sent out Caixa Eletronica to a win ten years ago in the 2012 edition. He would later win his second Classic with Stanford in 2016.

John Velazquez makes the trip down from Saratoga to ride Mind Control in the Charles Town Classic.

Pletcher and Mott aren’t the only Hall of Fame trainers represented in the Charles Town Classic as legendary conditioner D. Wayne Lukas will saddle his first horse at Charles Town in twelve years when he sends out Willis Horton Racing’s Oaklawn Handicap (G2) upsetter Last Samurai.

Lukas himself is in the midst of a successful 2022 that’s seen him win the Kentucky Oaks (G1) for a fifth time with Secret Oath, the Adirondack (G3) at Saratoga with Naughty Gal and unleash multiple 2-year-old’s with promise including impressive Saratoga maiden winner Bourbon Bash.

As for his 4-year-old son of Malibu Moon, he had struggled to find his niche, racing on both dirt and turf and at distances ranging from seven furlongs to 1 1/2 miles within the first ten starts of his career before eventually breaking through for his signature win in the $1,000,000 Oaklawn Handicap. Last Samurai followed that win up with subpar efforts in the Stephen Foster (G2) and R.A. Cowboy Jones Overnight Stakes at Ellis Park, but looks to rebound on Friday night.

Last Samurai’s regular pilot Jon Court has the call on Friday night and leaves from Post 3.

Vesgo Racing Stable’s homebred Officiating exits a score in the Cornhusker Handicap (G3) at Prairie Meadows in last start. Much like fellow Classic entrant Mind Control, the Saffie Joseph trainee had previously had his most success sprinting in the graded stakes ranks with wins in both the Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream Park and Tom Fool (G3) at Aqueduct.

By Blame out of the Dixie Union mare Come a Callin – who also produced Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ and Eclipse Award winner Caledonia Road – Officiating’s pedigree page doesn’t reveal many distance challenges and his trainer believes his tactical speed should serve him well around the Charles Town oval.

“Tactically, he’s a horse who wants to be forwardly placed, especially stretching out so that certainly helps at Charles Town,” said the Barbados native who has sent out Math Wizard and Ny Traffic in the last two Chares Town Classics. “He’s a hard-trying horse. We tried turf, and he ran well, but he got much better on the dirt. Then we hit a little plateau with him sprinting, so we stretched him out and it went well, and that’s when we pointed to Charles Town.”

Javier Castellano, the only rider to win the Charles Town Classic three times, will ride Officiating.

Charles Town’s local contingent is far from without hope as undefeated West Virginia-bred Muad’dib will put his perfect 10-for-10 record on the line in his first try in unrestricted stakes company.

Out of the barn of Jeff Runco, who himself is a perfect 2-for-2 in the Classic sending out Researcher to his wins in both 2009 and 2010, Muad’dib is a full sibling to multiple graded stakes winner Late Night Pow Wow and has summarily dispatched virtually all of his opponents to date but his trainer certainly recognizes Friday will represent a step up in class.

“This is a big step up for the horse,” said Runco – who currently sits 12th amongst trainers on the all-time wins list in North American Thoroughbred racing history. “He tries hard every time. Does what he has to do. But this race is a whole different dimension facing the kind of horses he’s going to have to face. But he’s doing great. It’s his home track. If he gets a trip, anything could happen.”

Runco is no stranger to success in the Charles Town Classic as he remains the only trainer to saddle back-to-back winners, but also assents to some differences between his past champion and current hope.

“Researcher won everywhere, and he ran against some real, serious horses. So he had already been tested. This is going to be the test for Muad’dib. He has the hometown advantage. He obviously loves the track, and he’s unbeaten. It’s a million-dollar race right in his backyard. You can’t get too caught up in being undefeated and focus too much on his record. Obviously it would be great if he stayed undefeated, but it’s about doing what’s best for the horse and for [Owner] David [Raim], and so if he wins and stays undefeated, great. But if he gets beat and gives a good account of himself, that’s fine too.”

Charles Town’s leading rider Arnaldo Bocachica – aboard for all ten of Muad’dib’s outings – will once again be in the irons.

Laurel Park based Plot the Dots and a pair from the Normal Cash barn in 2021 DeFrancis Dash (G3) winner Jalen Journey and Treasure Trove complete the lineup.

Pre-Draw News

Returning Champ Art Collector Tops Nominees For 2022 Charles Town Classic

Title defender and Grade 1 winner Art Collector leads a list of 126 nominations for the $1,000,000 Classic Town Classic and Charles Town Oaks, which closed this past Friday. The Classic and Oaks will both be run at Charles Town Races on its biggest night of the year – Friday, Aug. 26 – a card that includes a total of seven stakes races with $2.4 million in purse money on the line.

Owned by Bruce Lunsford and trained by Bill Mott, Art Collector will take the same route to West Virginia’s eastern panhandle as he did in 2021, when he won the Alydar Stakes at Saratoga three weeks prior to his run in the Classic. This year’s Alydar marked the son of Bernardini’s first start in more than five months following a disappointing effort overseas in the $20 million Saudi Cup.

The now 5-year-old Art Collector will look to join Researcher as the only horse to win the Charles Town Classic in consecutive years. The last eight horses attempting to win West Virginia’s richest race in back-to-back years have come up short, with the last being Sleepy Eyes Todd who checked in as the runner-up to Art Collector in the 2021 edition.

Trainer Brad Cox has a quartet of horses nominated to the Classic, topped by 2021 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mandaloun, most recently fourth in the San Diego (G2) at Del Mar. Mandaloun is one of two Juddmonte nominees, with the second coming in the form of multiple graded stakes winner Fulsome whose most recent tally in graded stakes company came on Saturday when he won the West Virginia Governor’s Stakes (G3) on Mountaineer Park’s West Virginia Derby undercard. Cox is also represented in the nominations by Night Ops and multiple graded stakes winner Plainsman who scored in the Razorback (G3) at Oaklawn Park in February.

Five horses from the barn of two-time Charles Town Classic winning trainer Todd Pletcher are nominated, headlined by Grade 1 victor Americanrevolution who scratched out of Saturday’s Whitney (G1) at Saratoga and Brooklyn (G2) winner Fearless, owned by Repole Stables who teamed with Pletcher to capture the 2012 Charles Town Classic with Caixa Eletronica. Pletcher also has Bal Harbour, Grade 1 winner Mind Control and Promise Keeper who took the 2021 running of the Peter Pan (G3) nominated.

Two of Chad Brown’s three nominees – Highly Motivated and Pipeline – come off of strong efforts where the pair finished first and second in the Monmouth Cup (G3) on the Haskell undercard. Following a narrow defeat in the Blue Grass (G2), Highly Motivated checked in tenth as the fifth betting choice in the 2021 Kentucky Derby before being sent to the sidelines for the remainder of the year. His Monmouth Cup score marked his second straight win after dropping his first race of 2022. Brown’s third nominee is recent allowance winner Stage Raider who is a half-brother to 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify.

Other graded stakes winners nominated to the Classic include recent San Diego winner Royal Ship, Last Samurai, who took the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) earlier this year, Tokyo City (G3) hero Heywood’s Beach, 2021 Ohio Derby (G3) winner Masqueparade who finished second to Art Collector in the Alydar, Officiating from the Saffie Joseph barn who won the Cornhusker (G3) at Prairie Meadows in his most recent outing, Steve Sexton Mile (G3) winner Silver Prospector, 2021 Salvator Mile (G3) upsetter Informative and Tax who won the Jim Dandy (G2) in 2019.

Horse Racing Rebates

Possible for the Charles Town Classic is local star Muad’dib, who is a perfect 10-for-10 in his career but would be making his debut in the unrestricted stakes ranks. Muad’dib is conditioned by Jeff Runco, who took the first two editions of the Charles Town Classic with the aforementioned Researcher.

Charles Town Oaks 2022 Nominations

Thoroughbred racing’s all-time leading trainer Steve Asmussen will take aim at a third Charles Town Oaks score after winning the race’s inaugural running with Four Gifts in 2009 and Pauline’s Pearl last year. Asmussen has 2021 Adirondack (G2) winner Wicked Halo nominated as well as Society who took the overnight Monomoy Girl Stakes at Churchill downs prior to a fourth place effort in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1).

Brad Cox’s four Classic nominations are matched by his four for the Oaks with the biggest names being 2021 Alcibiades (G1) winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) runner-up Juju’s Map and recent Indiana Oaks (G3) victor Interstatedaydream who also emerged victorious in the Black Eyed Susan (G2) at Pimlico earlier this year. After starting her season with a win in a Churchill Downs allowance contest, Juju’s Map has checked in third in both the Mother Goose (G2) and Monmouth Oaks (G3).

Additional nominees for the Charles Town Oaks include one-two finishers in this weekend’s Test (G1) at Saratoga in Chi Town Lady and Hot Peppers – neither of which are expected for the race – as well as 2021 Sorrento (G2) winner Elm Drive, Victory Ride (G3) runner-up Half is Enough, Miss Preakness (G3) victor Lady Scarlet, Midnight Stroll who won the Delaware Oaks (G3) in her last outing and a trio of Grade 1 placed fillies in Dance to the Music, Divine Huntress and Tarabi.

Entries for the August 26 Charles Town Classic card will be taken on Tuesday, August 23.

Nominations for three more unrestricted stakes all worth $250,000 and all run at seven furlongs – the Misty Bennett Pink Ribbon Stakes for older fillies and mares, the Russell Road for older horses and the Robert Hilton Memorial for three-year-olds – close this upcoming Friday, August 12. – US Legal Charles Town Races wagering online is a great way to bet horse racing at Charles Town Races. Available to customers across the United States, OTB features both Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing from major racing venues in the US as well as top international racing from Europe, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong.

Charles Town Classic Purse Increased To $1 Million For 2022

FEB 22 – Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races has released its final 2022 live racing calendar and open stakes schedule for the coming year following approval by the West Virginia Racing Commission at its Tuesday morning meeting.

Charles Town’s 2022 live racing calendar calls for 174 days of live racing, including a Wednesday through Saturday schedule in March, April and May as well as September through December with racing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday the remainder of the year. The track has already lost and rescheduled days in January due to inclement weather. Post time for all but one day on the Charles Town calendar is 7:00 P.M. EST.

Charles Town’s biggest day in its 2022 schedule follows up on a format that started in 2020 and has subsequently produced two of the three largest handles in Charles Town’s history, as Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races presents both of its graded stakes – the $1,000,000 Charles Town Classic (G2) and $500,000 Charles Town Oaks (G3) – on the same Friday, Aug. 26 card. The Charles Town Classic and Charles Town Oaks will headline the action on a 13-race program that gets underway with a special first post of 5:00 P.M. EST.

Run for $1,000,000 in available purse money in its first eleven editions, the Classic will jump back into seven-figure territory for the first time since local star Runnin’toluvya took the 2019 edition with the pandemic impacting available purses in both 2020 and 2021. The Oaks also received a purse increase to $500,000, matching where it stood in 2014, the first year it was run as a graded race. The three other unrestricted stakes on the Classic night undercard – the Russell Road, Misty Bennett Pink Ribbon and Robert Hilton Memorial – also received hikes to $250,000.

“We’re incredibly pleased with the business results of the last two Charles Town Classic programs and look forward to ramping up the card this August,” said Charlie McIntosh, Charles Town’s Director of Racing. “The lineup of racing will be very strong and with it projecting as the most lucrative card in our history, we see no reason this shouldn’t also be the most anticipated.”

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