On the same night that it hosted a pair of graded stakes for the first time in its 87-year history, Charles Town offered a solid supporting cast of open and state-bred stakes on the card last Friday night on a memorable occasion for local racing fans and riders.
In addition to hosting both the Grade II, $600,000 Charles Town Classic for older males traveling nine furlongs and the Grade III, $200,000 Charles Town Oaks for three-year-old fillies going seven panels, Charles Town also offered a trio of open stakes and two other stakes for West Virginia-breds prepping for the West Virginia Breeders Classics this fall.
Just past the midway point of the card, Stowe Angel (Arnaldo Bocachica) benefited from an inside draw and led throughout to capture the $50,000 Robert Leavitt Memorial as the 7-2 fourth choice and the lone filly in the field. A sophomore daughter of Warrior’s Reward trained by Jeff Runco for owner David Raim, Stowe Angel recorded her first stakes tally in the Leavitt and now owns four wins in five starts and earnings of just over $85,000 after getting the seven furlongs in 1:25.87.
One race later in the $150,000 Dance to Bristol Stakes for fillies and mares, Queen Nekia (Christian Hiraldo) benefited from patient handling down the backside and through the far turn then angled off the rail and wore down pacesetter Lady TNT (J.D. Acosta) for a neck victory. A five-year-old Harlington mare trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr., Queen Nekia notched her second win from six starts this year and now owns a 9-5-7 slate and over $400,000 banked after getting the seven panels in 1:25.54.
Then one race later in the $100,000 Robert Hilton Memorial Stakes for three-year-old males, Relentless Dancer (Sunday Diaz, Jr.) rallied from well off the pace and widest of all to roll past longshot Pitching Ari for a length score. A sophomore son of Midshipman trained by Michael Maker, Relentess Dancer recorded his fourth victory from 10 career outings and pushed his earnings toward $220,000 after getting the seven furlongs in 1:25.42 as the 2-1 co-favorite.
One race later in the $100,000 Russell Road Stakes for older males, Bourbon Calling (J.D. Acosta) rallied from well off the pace to forge a 7-1 upset when he overhauled 12-1 shot Wind of Change in the final strides. A four-year-old Dialed In gelding trained by Ian Wilkes, Bourbon Calling notched his first win from four starts this year and now owns a 5-1-4 slate and nearly $290,000 banked from 18 career outings after getting the seven panels in 1:24.68.
Then several races later in the Friday finale, the $50,000 Sylvia Bishop Memorial Stakes for state-bred three-year-old fillies, Star Of Night (Bocachica) easily lived up to her role as the 1-5 favorite when she rallied from just off the pace and drew clear late to a five-length score. A sophomore daughter of Creative Cause trained by Runco for owner David Raim, Star of Night posted her fourth win in six lifetime starts by getting the seven furlongs in 1:26.11.
In the Friday opener, Bridging the Gap maintained her sharp recent form by capturing a two-turn allowance for fillies and mares. A four-year-old daughter of Fiber Sonde owned and trained by John McKee, Bridging the Gap led throughout and drew clear from Amelia Bedelia for a five-length score in 1:18.47 for the 6 1/2 furlongs.
It was her second straight triumph, third win in last four tries and her sixth score in 11 career outings and pushed her lifetime bankroll past $115,000.