(Photo of Cinco Charlie by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.)

by Doug McCoy

Cinco Charlie is back!

The Indian Charlie colt — familiar to mid-Atlantic fans from his 2014 exploits — won seven of his first 11 races before losing a heartbreaking nose decision to March in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens at Belmont last June. But he came out of that race a bit the worse for wear and was sidelined from that race until mid-January of this year.

His initial return to racing was a disappointing sixth place finish in an optional claiming sprint at Oaklawn.


But trainer Steve Asmussen got the sense his star hadn’t liked the surface in Hot Springs and shipped Cinco Charlie to the Fair Grounds, where he faced five solid rivals including graded stakes winner Clear Now in the $60,000 Ducan Kenner Stakes February 20.

Bouncing to the lead at the start of the Kenner, Cinco Charlie led his field through fractions of :21.80 for the quarter mile and a half of :45.01 seocnds, then ripped through a final quarter of :24.38 while pulling away to a two and three quarter length victory in 1:09.38.

“I don’t think he (Cinco Charlie) cared for the track at Oaklawn,” Asmussen said after the race, “but he was fine today.”

Though a Kentucky-bred, Cinco Charlie is another outstanding runner bred by Herb and Ellen Moelis’ Candyland Farm in Middletown, DE, and he is another horse they certified for the Delaware Certified Program. A $17,000 yearling purchase, Cinco Charlie ripped through his furlong work prior to the Ocala March 2-year-old sale in :10.20 prompting William and Corinne Heiligbrodt to put up $190,000 to purchase the bay colt.

As a two-year-old in 2014, Cinco Charlie beat a strong maiden field that included subsequent graded stakes winner Far Right in his debut in May at Churchill then jumped up to graded stakes company to capture the Grade III Bashford Manor.

After a third and fifth at Saratoga in the Grade III Sanford and Grade II Saratoga Special, Cinco Charlie overwhelmed field in the $75,000 First State Dash, restricted to Delaware Certified runners, at Delaware Park, in September.

Two starts later, Cinco Charlie returned to the mid-Atlantic, scoring decisively in the $100,000 James F. Lewis, III Stakes at Laurel Park, this time as the even-money favorite.

The Lewis kicked off a three-race winning streak for Cinco Charlie, and he’d finished first or second in five consecutive races, four wins, prior to his heartbreaking loss in the Stephens.  Those five races had taken place at four different racetracks, from Maryland to New Orleans to New Mexico to Louisville.

Always a compelling talent, the stars might be aligned for the well-traveled Cinco Charlie. Look for him to retake his place as one of the top sprinters in the country this season as yet another outstanding graduate of the Delaware Certified Program.

“I think he’s going to have a huge year,” Asmussen said.