Hypothesis – nose down first – won the It’s Only Money over Sagebrush (#3). Photo by Coady Photography.

The break told the tale in Saturday’s $75,000 It’s Only Money Stakes for older West Virginia-breds at Charles Town Races.

In short: Hypothesis did, Sagebrush didn’t, and that was enough to provide the former a narrow win in a thrilling renewal of a race named for the Tim Grams trainee who at one time was the Charles Town record-holder at 4 ½ furlongs.

Grams was represented in this contest by Sagebrush.

No records fell in Saturday’s contest, but the finish saw the top trio – Hypothesis, Sagebrush, and Unrideabull – separated by just a half-length. The margin of Hypothesis’ victory over Sagebrush was even narrower: a nose.

Hypothesis and Sagebrush had squared off in an April allowance contest, the former winning by a half-length. But Hypothesis had been disqualified from that win after a positive test, and bettors made Sagebrush the 3-2 favorite here, with Hypothesis the 2.30-1 second choice.

It took all of a split second for that to seem backwards, though. Sagebrush broke last of all, and though he was into stride soon enough, the sluggish break left him to tip into the three path to find clear sailing as five of his six rivals vied for the early advantage.

Among those was Hypothesis. The Crystal Pickett trainee, with Jose Montano in the irons, broke from the outside and was the widest of a three-horse vanguard that threw down a 22.04-second opening quarter-mile. Sagebrush and Fredy Peltroche, meanwhile, were in sixth, nearly four lengths off the lead trio.

Unrideabull and Gustavo Larrosa, 29-1 and the innermost of the top three, cut the corner and gained a slight advantage in upper stretch, while Be Be Bop, between horses, gave way.

In mid-stretch, Hypothesis put a head in front while Sagebrush made a late bid on the far outside. When the dust had settled, Hypothesis had nosed out Sagebrush, with Unrideabull a half-length back in third. Running time for the distance on a fast main track was 52.18 seconds.

Hypothesis paid $6.60 to win and topped an exacta that returned $8.30 for a one-dollar wager.

The win was Hypothesis’ first official win of the year and his first stakes win since he was a juvenile, in 2019. That year he won three of four starts, including wins in the Henry Mercer Memorial Stakes and WV Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Breeders’ Classic.

Hypothesis now has seven wins from 17 career starts, with earnings of $231,374.

Pickett trains Hypothesis for Jill Daniel. The four-year-old Algorithms gelding was bred in West Virginia by Francis Daniel, III.

Sagebrush’s narrow defeat denied Tim Grams what would have been an unusual double: two straight wins in stakes named for a former Grams trainee. The It’s Only Money was the second consecutive stake run at Charles Town to be named for a former Grams trainee, and he had won last week’s Fancy Buckles Stakes with Our Diamond Girl.