Nominations robust for Sugar Maple, Hilton, Russell Road Stakes
by Frank Vespe
More than 130 horses have been nominated to three open stakes scheduled for the undercard of the Grade 2, $1.25 million Charles Town Classic, which takes place April 22 at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.
All three races are contested at seven furlongs, a two-turn distance at Charles Town. The $100,000 Sugar Maple, for fillies and mares four and up, is the top race on the undercard and has attracted 38 nominations. The $85,000 Robert Hilton Memorial, for three-year-olds, drew 48; and the first running of the $50,000 Russell Road, for four-year-olds and up, drew an even 50.
The nominees for the Sugar Maple include the last two winners of the track’s signature fall event, the Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks. Hot City Girl, trained by Linda Rice, won the 2015 edition of that race and has earned nearly $700,000 in her career. And Covey Trace, trained by William Denzik, shipped in last year to edge Mia Torri – also nominated – for her first graded stakes win.
Bob Baffert’s two nominees to the race include Pretty N Cool, who won the Grade 3 Las Flores at Santa Anita in her last start.
A number of stakes winners are among the 48 nominees to the Hilton. That list includes O Dionysus, a two-time stake winner who tired late in the Private Terms at Laurel Park last out to be second. Trainer Joe Sharp has nominated another two-time stake winner in the form of Cool Arrow, whose foray onto the Triple Crown trail, in the Grade 2 Risen Star, resulted in a 10th place finish.
If nominations turn into entrants, the inaugural Russell Road should have a big field, what with 50 nominees. One logical horse for the spot is the Tom Amoss trainee Rise Up, winner of last year’s Wild and Wonderful on the Charles Town Oaks undercard and of the 2014 Hilton Memorial.
Potential rivals include Laki, winner of the Not for Love Stakes for Maryland-breds last out at Laurel Park. The Damon Dilodovico trainee is joined on the nominations list by the second-, third-, and fourth-place finishers that afternoon: Sonny Inspired, Nicaradalic Rocks, and Blu Moon Ace.
Locals nominated to the event include 10-time winner Hear the Chatter, trained by John Casey, and 13-time winner Judge Carr, claimed for $30,000 out of his last start by trainer Kevin Patterson.