Bombs away: 3 biggest payouts in Charles Town Classic history
by Frank Vespe
The Charles Town Classic — now a Grade 2 event — may not be the Graveyard of Champions, but it sure hasn’t been very hospitable to favorites. Just once in the race’s eight runnings has the favorite won.
That lone favorite, Game On Dude in 2013, was 3-10 in the race and yet was life-and-death, in a three-horse photo, to win. Joining him in the photo were Clubhouse Ride, who went on to be a multiple Grade 2 winner, and Ron the Greek, already a multiple Grade 1 winner.
Here are the three biggest upsets in Classic history.
- Imperative — 2014 — Imperative, a Bernardini gelding, entered the 2014 event as pretty much an afterthought. With just two wins in 14 career starts, he went off as the second longest shot on the board, at 26.50-1. Heck, he’d event lost three times in claiming company, and here he was facing defending champ Game On Dude (off at 3-5) and the prior year’s runner-up, Clubhouse Ride. But Imperative — at the time trained by George Papaprodromou — got an astute ride from Kent Desormeaux while Game On Dude had company every step of the way. Imperative saved ground early, joined the leading pair of Game On Dude and Long River while three wide on the turn, and pulled away late in what announcer Larry Collmus called “an absolute shocker.” Game On Dude was second, and Moreno was third.
> 2014 Charles Town Classic winner
> Win payout: $55.00
> Exacta: $139.80
> Trifecta: $532.00
2. Caixa Eletronica — 2012 — It was the first year that the Classic earned Grade 2 status, and the now horse was Tackleberry, who’d won eight of 10, including three graded events, prior to running in the Classic and went off at 1.90-1 here. Also in the field was Duke of Mischief, aiming to be the second horse to repeat in the Classic after Researcher had won the first two editions of the race. When Tackleberry threw in the towel early, followed by early leader Pants on Fire and Tres Borrachos, that threw the race into disarray. Duke of Mischief made a bold move on the outside to reach the lead on the turn for home. But Caixa Eletronica was just getting revved up under Javier Castellano, and he rallied to earn a convincing three-length win and his second graded score. Duke of Mischief held second, and Mister Marti Gras was third. Caixa Eletronica, a son of Arromanches trained by Todd Pletcher, eventually went on to earn more than $1.8 million.
3. Moreno — 2015 — One year after Imperative posted the greatest upset in Classic history, he participated in another blow-up race, though this one was marred by injury. Shared Belief, then widely considered the best horse in training, made the trip East to compete in the Classic this year; he went off at 3-10 but was injured during the race and pulled up. That turned what seemed to be a sure thing into a wide-open affair as only two horses other than Shared Belief were at odds of less than 10-1. The best of those turned out to be Moreno, who surged to a two-length victory, prompting his trainer, Eric Guillot, to proclaim, “I’m here for two reasons: to pass out lollipops and win big races and I’m fresh out of lollipops.” Imperative rallied to be second at 31-1, and with 33-1 Page McKenney in third, triggered race-record exacta and trifecta payouts.
> 2012 Charles Town Classic winner
> Win payout: $18.80
> Exacta: $208.60
> Trifecta: $1,667.80
> 2015 Charles Town Classic winner
> Win payout: $16.00
> Exacta: $331.80
> Trifecta: $3,672.00