Anna’s Bandit, Parisian Diva set for Original Gold tilt
Anna’s Bandit — co-champion older West Virginia-bred Horse of the Year last season — and champion sophomore filly Parisian Diva have been on a collision course for some time. If all goes to plan, they’ll meet Friday night for the first time in the $50,000 Original Gold Stakes at Charles Town Races.
The Original Gold is one of a pair of two-turn states for state-bred older runners, one each for females and males, the track is offering this weekend, the other being Saturday’s $50,000 Confucius Say. They come one week after Charles Town hosted a pair of one-turn stakes for West Virginia-bred three-year-olds.
Anna’s Bandit, third in the Grade 3, $250,000 Barbara Fritchie Stakes in her most recent outing February 15, has been working steadily for her title defense in the Original Gold for trainer John (Jerry) Robb and owner No Guts No Glory Stable.
“She came out of the Fritchie really good and she’s been doing great,” said Robb, who will yield the saddling duties to Diane McClure on Friday. “It’s all systems go right now. She’s been training well and hasn’t missed a beat. It will be different not being there to saddle her myself. That filly that drew the rail [Parisian Diva] looks tough. I imagine I’ll face her every time we go up there.”
Not only will Robb be idle from his role of saddling Anna’s Bandit and giving up a leg up to her rider, but the Great Notion mare will also have a different jockey in Gerald Almodovar on Friday. Laurel Park-based jockey Xavier Perez is Anna’s Bandit’s normal pilot.
Charles Town’s coronavirus quarantine guidelines sidelined both Robb and Perez. Those rules prohibit trainers not allocated stalls from being on the grounds and limit jockeys to those who have made at least half their starts at Charles Town.
Despite the new rider, Anna’s Bandit is listed as the 7-5 morning line favorite in the Original Gold, and she boasts a 16-4-7 slate and nearly $750,000 banked from 34 career outings.
Parisian Diva, a winner of an allowance event two weeks ago in her seasonal debut, has won nine of 14 starts and earned nearly $260,000 for trainer Stacey Viands and owner-breeder Melinda Golden. The four-year-old daughter of Freedom Child already boasts four stakes tallies in her career and drew the rail for her second straight outing. She is listed as a generous 3-1 on the morning line heading into Friday’s encounter with Anna’s Bandit.
“She got three days off after her last start, but she’s been doing great,” Viands said. “It was good to be able to get a race in her before the Original Gold. If she breaks well from the rail then she’ll be okay. I know Anna’s Bandit is going to be tough. She’s been off a couple of months, but I know if she’s coming she’ll be ready.”
Like Robb, Viands suspects the Original Gold will be the first of several meetings for the two runners.
“Like I told Melinda, we’re probably going to have to face her three or four times this year,” the trainer said.
Looking to play the spoiler role in the Original Gold is local trainee Bridging the Gap (10-1), a talented sort owned and trained by John McKee who arrives off a sharp allowance score in 1:17.14 on the same night that Parisian Diva prevailed in her seasonal debut in 1:18.09 for the same distance. Trainer Dale Capuano will send out Hell of Afire (6-1), a seven-year-old Friesan Fire mare who owns two wins in five starts at Laurel this year; Jeff Runco will saddle See Ya Manana (12-1) and Grace Elizabeth (8-1), while James W. Casey will send out B’s Wild Cork (15-1), a stakes winner last fall.
The Original Gold is scheduled to be the eighth race on Friday’s nine-race program with a post time of 10:25 p.m. The card begins at 7:00.
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