(Photo by The Racing Biz.)
by Ted Black
Although his talented and very lightly raced three-year-old ridgling Charmed Victory suffered the first setback in his three-race career when second to Marengo Road in the Miracle Wood Stakes on Presidents Day at Laurel Park, trainer Rodney Jenkins was anything but disappointed with his effort and has already begun mapping out a campaign through the remainder of the Laurel meet.
Charmed Victory, a Maryland-bred son of Flatter out of the stakes winner American Victory, that Jenkins trains for Hillwood Stable LLC (Ellen Charles) and Richard Golden, had won the first two starts of his career at Laurel before settling for second to the more seasoned Marengo Road in the Miracle Wood. But Jenkins was quick to note that Charmed Victory bounced back nicely from the effort and that he believes bigger things might be in store. Charmed Victory gets an affinity for distance from the top and bottom of his pedigree; American Victory’s sire, Victory Gallop, is perhaps best remembered for running down Triple Crown aspirant Real Quiet in the 1998 Belmont Stakes.
“I don’t think we’ve seen his best race yet or seen him run at his best distance,” Jenkins said. “He came out of the race great and now I am really looking forward to seeing how well he’ll do in the longer races at Laurel. He’s going to go next in the [$75,000] Private Terms at a mile and a sixteenth [on March 19] and then the [$100,000 Federico] Tesio at a mile and an eighth [on April 9], and we’ll see how well he comes out of those races before we decide on where to go next.”
Charmed Victory has long been ticketed for the high life. He topped the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern Fall Yearling Sale in 2014, fetching a winning bid of $260,000 from Ellen Charles’s Hillwood Stable LLC. Richard Golden, whose Sycamore Hall Thoroughbreds bred the horse. Golden subsequently bought a quarter of the horse back.
In recent years Jenkins has conditioned talented runners for Charles, two of which emerged on the scene very early in their careers and posted multiple stakes victories at age two. Bandbox, a New York-bred son of Tapit that Jenkins trained for Charles, won the first three starts of his career, including a pair of stakes at Charles Town and Belmont Park. He won the Private Terms at age three, but his biggest score came in the Grade 3, $250,000 General George Stakes three years later at age six. He posted a 5-4-1 slate and earnings just over $390,000 from 15 career outings.
Later during the same year in which Bandbox won the General George, Jenkins unveiled another talented juvenile for Charles named Golden Years. This West Virginia-bred son of Not For Love won the Maryland Million Nursery and the Marylander Stakes at age two. He finished third in the Miracle Wood in his lone outing as a sophomore, last February, but has not run since. While both Bandbox and Golden Years displayed plenty of early speed in their initial works and in their races and preferred sprints, Charmed Victory appears to be their antithesis.
“Those other two colts had a lot more speed than this colt,” Jenkins said. “But they also had their distance limitations. I always hoped that Bandbox would go further, but the Private Terms was really his limit. Golden Years had a lot of early speed, but he never really wanted to go any further than seven furlongs. This colt likes to take his time early and then make a big late run. He’s just getting warmed up going a mile. I’m really excited to see how well he’ll do in the Private Terms and then in the Tesio. I think that mile and an eighth is going to be perfect for him.”
While neither Bandbox or Golden Years made the starting gate for the Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel in thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown that often includes a local product looking to upend the prominent invaders, Jenkins is cautiously hopeful that Charmed Victory can peak heading into the third Saturday in May. He rallied from seventh, closing sharply to win his debut against maiden special weight foes going six furlongs, rallied from midpack to win a mile allowance by six lengths on Jan. 4, and then closed willingly to run second in the Miracle Wood, just three-quarters of a length behind Marengo Road.
“He’s still a very young horse in terms of experience,” Jenkins said. “He’s only had those three starts and he keeps getting better with each start. He was really good his last two races going in those one-turn mile races. He got caught a little wide in the Miracle Wood and he was still coming in the end. That was just his third lifetime start and his first stakes race and he raced very well. He’s bounced back from that race great and I’m looking forward to the Private Terms and then the Tesio. After that I’ll let him tell me what race we’ll point for next.”