In Focus: Wagering Charles Town Thanksgiving night

by | Nov 22, 2017 | Breaking, Handicapping, Top Stories, West Virginia

Rose Brier

Charitable Annuity. Photo by Coady Photography.

Our In Focus Guide offers the most in-depth analysis and commentary on Charles Town’s Thanksgiving night card.


Race 8, $30,000 purse, WV-bred 3yo and up, 7 furlongs, post time 10:15 p.m. EST

  1. Ello Govna (3-1) – Figgins trainee had no answers last out in the A Huevo, fading from the scene readily; the only horses he beat were 53-1 and 131-1. But note that he owns five wins at the trip and seven over the strip. He’ll need to get back to best form here, but you have to wonder if last was one too many, and others attract more.
  2. In the Fairway (8-1) – Posse gelding has eight wins at the trip and is a multiple stake winner. The bad news? He’s working on a 10-race losing skein and faces two hear that bested him last out.
  3. Follow the Notion (12-1) – Seemed a little uncomfortable up the backstretch last out when beaten favorite, and though he made a grinding run wasn’t much of a threat to catch the winner. Past Onion Juice winner (’16) will need plenty of pace help here, and declining recent form suggests this might be a tough one.
  4. Fear the Turtle (10-1) – David Walters-trained runner keeps passing harder tests and now owns four straight wins and five overall in eight starts. Last out he overcame a bit of a rough start to outlast allowance foes (including Follow the Notion). The waters get deeper here, but this 4yo still has upside and can contend with these.
  5. Creative Mist (30-1) – Freddie Johnson trainee has done his best work around three turns and last out controlled up front to post a head win against allowance foes, but cutback to 7f doesn’t bode well; he’s winless in 10 tries at the trip and doesn’t have the speed to outfoot other rivals here early.
  6. Little Big Sime (20-1) – Hard-hitting veteran is creeping up on $300k earnings but laboring under a seven-race losing streak, most not close; in fact, he hasn’t been in the money in those seven starts. His best hope here is a pace meltdown and that the switch to jock J. D. Acosta helps him discover his better form.
  7. Rocket Road (10-1) – Didn’t run a bad one last out in the A Huevo when fourth in first try in Tim Grams barn, but he’s another with plenty of questions to answer: he’s lost 13 straight, is winless in a dozen tries at the distance, and has done best work around three turns.
  8. Hear the Chatter (6-1) – Onion Juice runner-up put in a good effort that night but couldn’t make much dent in Help a Brother’s advantage, but that’s kinda the story for the John Casey trainee; since winning seven of nine (five stakes) to start his career, he’s run plenty of good races, but there’s usually been a better horse in front of him.
  9. Help a Brother (5-2) – This Lewis Craig runner ran big last out to lodge his second Onion Juice triumph in three years, and there’s plenty of reason to think he might knock this race down too. The Windsor Castle gelding’s become a front-running sort of late, and he’s drawn well outside here, too, which will let him eyeball other speed types – which are not numerous — before committing. Major player.
  10. Mean Bean (5-1) – Up-and-comer has won four of his last nine and has been in the exacta six straight; never worse than third at the trip in seven tries. Last out ran second to North Atlantic, who later ran second in the WV Breeders Classic and the won the A Huevo – but that was now four months ago. He’s fired fresh before but he’ll need the race of his life to get the money here.
  11. (ae) Prince of Windsor (9-2) – If he draws in off the AE, this one rates a major shot here; led a long way last out before settling for second in the A Huevo and cuts back here to distance where he owns five wins. Has finished behind a couple of these in other events, though, and will need his A game here.

Pick up a two-page PDF version of this In Focus guide here.


  1. #9 Help a Brother (5-2): Favorite in good form, has too many advantages to ignore
  2. #4 Fear the Turtle (10-1): Can’t ignore a lightly raced sort handling everything thrown at him, and value will be there
  3. #10 Mean Bean (5-1): Improving sort loves this trip
  4. #11 Prince of Windsor (9-2): Don’t sleep on this guy if he draws in


o   Race 6: 8, 9

o   Race 7: 3, 5, 6

o   Race 8: 4, 9

o   Race 9: 2, 6, 7, 9


TOTAL COST: $24.00

George Town Cat. Photo by Coady Photography.

RACE 1 – Maiden Special Wt., 4 ½ furlongs

  1. #1 General Fund (4-1): Walters trainee bred for bigger things, training forwardly for debut here, but must overcome challenging inside post.
  2. #3 Idaside (7-2): Cutback to 4 ½ furlongs should help here after showing speed, weakening in earlier tries; third-place effort at TIM was solid against decent group
  3. #6 Top Hat Countess (5-2): Runner-up in first two starts rates major shot to leave winless ranks here
  4. #7 Fly as a Falcon (3-1): Was under hustling ride from get-go in last, may be better served by seven-hole here than down on the rail in last

RACE 2 – Claiming $6250, 7 furlongs

  1. #7 Cutty Shark (9-2): Veteran has a ton of back class – he was second in the ’15 G3 General George – and five wins at the trip; trainer Walters going for early double here with runner from whom he’s coaxing improved efforts
  2. #3 Northern Freeway (7-5): Ran well against a rugged crew in last; runner-up Gold Man was second in an N2X allowance next out and scheduled to run Thanksgiving eve in a PEN stake. Trainer Runco and rider Rodriguez have a 37 percent strike rate, but what’s fun about 7-5?
  3. #1 True Concern (8-1): Emptied out a little bit going three turns but cut back to preferred trip puts him in the mix

RACE 3 – Maiden Special Wt., 6 ½ furlongs

  1. #2 Moolah Schmoolah (9-5) Pricey Union Rags filly found the big gals at the Spa a little rough for her liking; improving work tab signals she’s ready for an improved try in easier company
  2. #3 Beryl’s Flight (9-2): Leading trainer Runco’s always liked this one – note first two tries at LRL rather than locally – and go-to rider picks this miss over trainer’s other runner
  3. #9 Cape Delight (201): Monster odds await the intrepid bettor who picks this McKee trainee; look for improved effort in second start

Pick up a two-page PDF version of this In Focus guide here.

Queen Caroline

Grumpelstiltskin. Photo by Coady Photography.

RACE 4 – Claiming $5000, 6 ½ furlongs

  1. #9 Sassafras Springs (3-1): Gave up a big lead late in last against horse who repeated but may be controlling speed here and is drawn helpfully outside other speed types
  2. #8 Lotsa Noodles (51): Veteran 9yo returned from a freshening with a decisive score, steps up with renewed confidence
  3. #5 Sterlings Dolly (4-1): Decent effort last in return to local action

RACE 5 – Maiden Claiming, 4 ½ furlongs

  1. #5 Cory’s Cutie (3-1): Was 5-2 last out but divested herself of her rider after stumbling; top pair returned to win next out
  2. #7 Fancy Chance (12-1): Speedy sort may appreciate cutback to 4 ½ furlongs
  3. #6 Super Dawn (5-2): Favorite has been second against similar in last two

RACE 6 – Claiming $5,000, 1 1/8 miles

  1. #9 Rain On Fire (4-1): Ronney Brown trainee was stopped on heels mid-turn last out but stuck with it to the end; clean trip here should be good enough
  2. #8 Gemini Dream (3-1): Crystal Pickett-trained WV-bred has made good use of state-bred conditions, tries open company for first time; three wins in the bank put her ahead of others
  3. #4 Charismatic Miss (15-1): Doesn’t show much interest in winning but has been in the money both tries at the distance
  4. #12 Windsor’s Sunshine (8-1):Probably won’t draw in but projects to be lone speed if she does

Pick up a two-page PDF version of this In Focus guide here.

Unrideabull. Photo by Coady Photography.

RACE 7 – Claiming $12,500, 4 ½ furlongs

  1. #6 Dimitri’s Romance (4-1): Speedster stands to benefit from cutback to 4 ½ furlongs, drawn outsider other speed players
  2. #5 Demay’s Castle (6-1): Casey trainee can improve in second off six-month break, looks to have pace to run at
  3. #3 Catliketendencies (7-2): Found initial foray into claiming ranks a friendly one last out

RACE 8 — Handicap $30,000, 7 furlongs

  1. #9 Help a Brother (5-2): Formful speedster looks to have too many advantages here
  2. #4 Fear the Turtle (10-1): Keeps passing harder tests, faces toughest bunch yet
  3. #10 Mean Bean (5-1): Never out of the money at this trip
  4. #11 Prince of Windsor (9-2): Don’t sleep on this guy if he draws in

RACE 9 – Maiden Special Wt., 6 ½ furlongs

  1. #7 Charitable Luck (7-2): Not convinced trip troubles in last couple as severe as they seem on the page, but this Casey trainee is more lightly raced than some of her rivals
  2. #6 Across America (5-2): Was wide much of the way in last, doggedly took second
  3. #9 Bolicina (12-1): Repelled by 1-2 chalk in last, can improve here and gets new jock in the irons

Pick up a two-page PDF version of this In Focus guide here.