It’s here, Mountain State bettors. West Virginia unfurls its very own seven-figure thoroughbred horse racing showcase Friday night with the $1 million Charles Town Classic.
Taking place at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in Charles Town, the 1 1/8-mile event has a 10:18 p.m. post and a field of eight.
The undercard of the state’s biggest race contains several strong events, headlined by the $500,000 Charles Town Oaks. The Charles Town Classic and Charles Town Oaks highlight a 13-race program that has a special first post time of 5 p.m.
Three dynamite races are:
- Pink Ribbon Stakes
- Robert Hilton Memorial
- Russell Road
Each helps to complete an excellent card. Each is worth $250,000 and would normally rank as a headliner. On this night, they are part of a card that pays out more than $2 million to the participants.
Mountain State bettors can get in on the action remotely via TVG and other outlets. They may also choose to take in a banner evening in Charles Town that includes entertainment, food trucks, and more.
Charles Town Classic overview
The Friday spotlight provides a unique niche for the track. It wisely avoids a confrontation with the $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
That race, involving the biggest names on the thoroughbred circuit this season, unfolds Saturday afternoon.
Friday night belongs to West Virginia horse betting. Here is an overview of the major players in the classic.
2022 Charles Town Classic contenders
He won the Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park in New Jersey after an exhilarating stretch battle with Hot Rod Charlie. Mind Control, at 2-1, had lost control to 1-5 favorite Hot Rod Charlie, one of the most popular thoroughbreds on the national circuit. But Mind Control fought back and put a nose in front just before the wire.
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, who has an instinctive knack for finding the right opportunity for his horses, guides Mind Control.
Officiating comes off of a nice victory in the Cornhusker Stakes at Prairie Meadows in July.
Does the name of that race seem familiar? It might for fans who remember that Knicks Go won that event last year en route to becoming the horse of the year.
His time was three seconds faster than Officiating’s, indicating how special he was.
The 5-year-old seeks to join Researcher as the only horse to win the Charles Town Classic in consecutive years. The last eight horses attempting to repeat in West Virginia’s richest race have come up short.
The last was Sleepy Eyes Todd, who was second to Art Collector in this race last year.
Art Collector won the Alydar Stakes handily at Saratoga on Aug. 4. At odds of 4-5, he toyed with the field, winning on the front end. It was the type of performance that convinced his connections that he would be up for a defense of his Charles Town Classic crown.
Last Samurai won the Oaklawn Handicap at 12-1, defeating a reasonably good field. But he finished only third in a minor stake, the R.A. Cowboy Jones, at Ellis Park.
There are mixed signals here. On his best race, he would at least hit the superfecta board.
The second tier of Charles Town Classic competitors
These horses would have to do a lot to overcome the favorites:
Plot the Dots
He was a distant second in the Deputed Testamony, a minor stake, in his last race.
He was fourth in the same race. Treasure Trove has even more work to do than Plot the Dots.
He won a minor stake, the Chesapeake at Colonial Downs in Kent, Virginia, in his last outing. But he’s never won a distance race.
The Charles Town Oaks drew nine entrants, with possible favorite Society set to break from post five.
Bettors will take a good look at profit possibilities besides the big races. Some, like an allowance matchup in Race 5, have big fields. They are the breeding grounds for midpriced or long-shot horses to prevail.
West Virginia horse betting primer
Here are some wagering options bettors will look at:
- Win: Horse must finish first.
- Place: Horse can finish first or second; payouts are smaller than the winning wager.
- Show: Horse can finish first, second, or third. More options to hit the board, less payout. Big bettors who slam a favorite sometimes like this option.
- Exactas: Top two finishers in exact order. Boxing them is always advisable. A $5 exacta box (2, 4 for example) will cost $10. It will pay out whether the order of finish is 2, 4 or 4, 2.
- Trifectas: Top three finishers in exact order. A $1 trifecta box with three horses costs $6 and might be played as a 7, 8, 9 trifecta box, for example. It pays if these horses gain the top three spots, regardless of finishing order.
- Superfectas: Top four in exact order. This bet is lucrative, yet elusive and expensive.