Something Awesome
Something Awesome (#4, outside) was narrowly best in the 2018 Grade 2 Charles Town Classic. Photo by Coady Photography.

Led by 2019 Pennsylvania Derby (G1) winner Math Wizard, defending race champ Runnin’toluvya and 2019 Frizette (G1) heroine Wicked Whisper, a total of 141 nominations were received for the $600,000 Charles Town Classic (G2) and $200,000 Charles Town Oaks (G3) which closed this past Friday. 

When the two races are run together on Friday, August 28, it will mark the first time Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races will hold both of its graded stakes on the same day.  The 12th running of the Charles Town Classic, postponed from its original April 18 date following the track’s closure due to the COVID pandemic, and the Charles Town Oaks, moved up from its September 19 spot on the calendar are only two of seven total stakes races on the card totaling $1,250,000 in purse money.

Steve Asmussen, who trained Four Gifts to a win in the inaugural running of the Charles Town Oaks in 2009, led the way with 15 nominations for the two races, with the Charles Town Classic brigade headlined by 2019 Pimlico Special (G3) victor and 2018 Preaknesss (G1) runner-up Tenfold who scratched out of Sunday’s Alydar Stakes at Saratoga. 

Trainer Brad Cox looks to send out his first runner in the Charles Town Classic and has a trio of older horses to choose from in Night Ops, a winner of the Cornhusker Handicap (G3) in his last start; multiple graded stakes winner Owendale; and Warrior’s Charge, most recently a good fourth behind Vekoma, Network Effect and Code of Honor in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park.

Much like Cox, Bret Calhoun would be saddling his first Charles Town Classic starter and appears possible to do so with Mr. Money, a winner of four straight graded stakes events as a three-year-old, including the West Virginia Derby (G3), before seeing that winning streak snapped by a close-up second place effort in the Pennsylvania Derby.  Calhoun also has the multiple graded stakes winning six-year-old Silver Dust nominated to the Classic.

Others nominated to the Charles Town Classic include 2019 race runner-up Diamond King, 2019 Woodward (G1) runner-up Bal Harbour, Monmouth Cup (G3) winner Global Campaign, Santa Anita Handicap (G1) second place finisher and expected starter Multiplier, Challenger (G3) victor Trophy Chaser and War Story, a winner of more than $3.2 million over his career that includes three previous efforts in the Charles Town Classic.

While Math Wizard stands as his lone Charles Town Classic nomination, trainer Saffie Joseph was well represented among Charles Town Oaks nominees with four sophomore fillies, including the multiple graded stakes winner Tonalist’s Shape and Loriloupies, an impressive winner in consecutive starts earlier this year at Gulfstream.

Others nominated and possible for the Charles Town Oaks include Boerne, winner of the Azalea in her last start at Gulfstream, Hopeful Growth, most recently victorious in the Monmouth Oaks (G3) and Project Whiskey, who scored in the Delaware Oaks (G3) at odds of nearly 40-to-1.

Entries for the August 28 Charles Town Classic card will be taken on Tuesday, August 25.

Nominations for three more unrestricted stakes all run at seven furlongs – the $150,000 Dance to Bristol for older fillies and mares, the $100,000 Russell Road and the $100,000 Robert Hilton Memorial for three-year-olds – close this upcoming Friday, August 14.