Flattering Bea and Garry Cruise.  Photo by Coady Photography.

Charles Town lover Flattering Bea. Photo by Coady Photography.

From a Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races release

Coming off a commanding victory in the Violet Handicap at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in her most recent start, five-year-old mare Flattering Bea will seek to defend her title in the seventh running of the $150,000 Sugar Maple presented by CANTER Mid-Atlantic on Saturday.

Trained at Pimlico Race Course by Crystal Pickett for owner James Arrison, Flattering Bea has been dominant in her career at Charles Town, winning five of seven starts there with earnings of $236,595.

The seven-furlong test for fillies and mares four-years-old and up drew a field of eight runners and has a post time of 5:20pm EST.

The Sugar Maple is the main supporting stakes race for the $1.5 million Charles Town Classic, which features Shared Belief, the co-top ranked horse in the world.

Pickett has run Flattering Bea at tracks throughout the Mid-Atlantic, but only one of her wins – her debut – has come away from Charles Town.

“I think she just likes two turns; seven-eighths has always been her best distance,” Pickett said. “Charles Town has a very similar surface to Pimlico, which is very sandy. She’s had two [second-place finishes] at Pimlico, too.”

Flattering Bea ran into the powerful Lady Sabelia in her first two stakes starts this year and then showed her good form when sent to Charles Town for the Violet, which she won by four lengths.

She went into the Sugar Maple last year with the reputation of being a closer but ran up on the pace and won by a neck.


“She can be anywhere she has to be in a race,” Pickett said. “Last year, on the big night, you wanted to be laying close. A lot of times she’s found herself way off the pace because she’s got pinched at the start. When she broke her maiden at Delaware by 5 1/2 lengths, she was right there. She’s very tactical. She’s very athletic.”

Two opponents in the Sugar Maple have shipped up from Tampa Bay Downs – Nesso for trainer Sandino Hernandez Jr., and Taketheodds for trainer Ian Wilkes.

Nesso, who drew the rail for the race, finished third to multiple graded stakes winner Miss Behaviour last year in the Charles Town Oaks (G3) after racing outside in the six path. That race, in September, was her last of the year, and she has come back with victories in two of three starts this year, including a gate-to-wire score over Taketheodds in a recent allowance race at Tampa Bay.

“She’s doing real well,” Hernandez said. “I ran her in a couple easy spots in Tampa, basically going through her allowance conditions. I ran her in a small stakes for $50,000. I thought she’d run a little better there, but she was pinned down on the inside and didn’t like that. She likes to be in the clear or on the lead.

“It’s not going to be an easy race,” Hernandez said of the Sugar Maple, “but that race last year, if my jock would have broke better, we would have finished second. We weren’t going to beat the winner, but she was giving a good account of herself.”

Wilkes has been trying to find the best form of Taketheodds, who grabbed the lead briefly in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks last summer at Saratoga before fading to finish fifth. She bounced back to win an allowance race two starts later at Churchill Downs but was off the board in four subsequent stakes starts.

She tuned up for the Sugar Maple with a third behind Nesso.

“We’ve got to turn the tables on her, don’t we? Wilkes said. “It’s a good spot, a chance to get some black type and a fun day for the owner. I think two turns might be good for her.”

Printasticat, a recent second-place finisher in the Conniver Stakes at Laurel Park, ships in for trainer Claudio Gonzalez. The six-year-old Fantasticat mare had won three straight race by open lengths before the Conniver. She is, however, 0-for-2 in her career at Charles Town.

Found, a four-year-old filly trained by Carla Morgan, enters the Sugar Maple off a 10-length victory in an allowance April 3 at the track at the race’s same seven-furlong distance.

Dallas Cowgirl, trained at Penn National by Flint Stites, finished third behind Flattering Bea in the Violet and has won three of her five career starts at Charles Town.

Frivolity, who races for leading New York trainer David Jacobson, and Cecileabration complete the field.

[su_box title=”$150,000 SUGAR MAPLE ENTRIES” style=”glass”]
  1. Nesso, Fernando De La Cruz, 118, Sandino R. Hernandez, Jr.
  2. Found, Christian J. Olmo, 118, Carla L. Morgan
  3. Cecileabration, Christian Hiraldo, 118, James H. Starkey
  4. Dallas Cowgirl, Oscar Flores, 118, Flint W. Stites
  5. Printasticat, J.D. Acosta, 118, Claudio A. Gonzalez
  6. Frivolity, Cornelio H. Velasquez, 118, David Jacobson
  7. Flattering Bea, Jose Montano, 118, Crystal G. Pickett
  8. Taketheodds, Mike E. Smith, 118, Ian R. Wilkes