Penguin Power
Penguin Power cruised to victory in the 2019 A Huevo Stakes at Charles Town Races. Photo by Coady Photography.

The top trio from a recent Charles Town allowance are all back to contest Saturday’s $75,000 It’s Only Money Stakes at Charles Town Races. But the most intriguing entrant in the 4 ½-furlong test for West Virginia-bred three-year-olds and up is arriving from a different direction altogether.

That would be Penguin Power, the Jeff Runco trainee who’s been installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite.

What makes Penguin Power such a surprise here? He’s never – not one time in his 20-race career – tried the one-turn dash distance at Charles Town. What he has done is win 13 of 20 career starts, including five wins in stakes company, while compiling a bankroll of $312,804.

Penguin Power has done most of his best work at the two-turn, seven-furlong distance at CT, including a 14-length win in last fall’s West Virginia Onion Juice Breeders’ Classic. He’s lost three straight, however, the last two this year. He started his year with a middling try when seventh – albeit only six behind the winner in the Fire Plug Stakes at Laurel Park January 16. Penguin Power didn’t race again until May 1, when he was cooked as part of the early speed and finished sixth in the Confucius Say at Charles Town.

Regular pilot Arnaldo Bocachica takes a pass on Penguin Power in this spot. Carlos Marrero will do the honors instead, while Boca lands on Runco’s other entrant, dash specialist Aaron’s Tap (5-1).

Aaron’s Tap was an even third in the aforementioned allowance – top pair Hypothesis and Sagebrush both are here – and will look to secure his first victory since January 2020, a string of seven consecutive defeats. Aaron’s Tap is a three-time stakes winner – he scored in this event in 2019 – who has amassed $348,528 in career earnings.

He’ll hope for Penguin Power to turn up the heat on Hypothesis and Sagebrush in this one. That pair ran one-two all the way around the track in the April 10 allowance, with Hypothesis prevailing, though he was later disqualified because of a positive test.

Trained by Crystal Pickett for Jill Daniel, Hypothesis has won half of his 10 starts at the trip. He won a pair of stakes as a two-year-old, back in 2019, and his only defeat that year came on the turf at Colonial Downs behind next-out Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint winner Four Wheel Drive.

Hypothesis (4-1) will break from the outside under Jose Montano.

The It’s Only Money is the second of two consecutive stakes, following last weekend’s Fancy Buckles, named for a runner who’d been trained by Tim Grams. Grams scored last week when Our Diamond Girl won the Fancy Buckles, and he’ll be hoping to make it two straight with Sagebrush.

Sagebrush, trained by Tim Grams and a homebred for him and his wife Judy, was a game second in that allowance, dueling just outside the winner for virtually the entire race before finishing a half-length back. He’s won eight of 24 career starts; in the better of his two stakes outings, he was a good second behind the late Dr. Feelgood, who finished his career 10-for-10 going 4 ½ furlongs.

Fredy Peltroche is named on Sagebrush (9-2).

Other major contenders include Fiber and Emily (5-1) and Be Be Bop (6-1).