Hypothesis set for season bow in It’s Only Money

This Saturday night Charles Town will host the latest renewal of the It’s Only Money Stakes for West Virginia-breds three years old and up traveling the one-turn dash distance of 4 1/2 furlongs.

Fitting: the race’s namesake won the inaugural Charles Town Dash on July 4, 1999 in then-track record time for 4 ½ furlongs.

This year’s edition of the It’s Only Money Stakes will feature a full gate of 10 and a bevy of talented runners. Several have already proven themselves in one-turn stakes, while several others appear on the verge of doing so. Most of the participants will likely return again this summer and fall for the Last Enchantment Stakes and the West Virginia Dash For Cash Breeders’ Classic.

Defending champ Hypothesis, who also won the Last Enchantment and Dash for Cash last year en route to being named champion West Virginia-bred sprinter of 2021, makes his seasonal debut from post nine. Hypothesis, a winner of three straight, five of 10 last year and 11 of 23 overall with career earnings of over $330,000, spent the winter at trainer Crystal Pickett’s farm in Ocala, Florida and returned to his Charles Town barn fresh and fit for another campaign.

“If ever there was a winter to spend in Florida it was this past one,” said Pickett, who trains Hypothesis for owner Jill Daniel. “He’s filled out and muscled up and looks like a genuine five-year-old. I’m fortunate to have an owner that will give him time off. He made 10 starts last year and needed a little rest and there were no races around here for him until this one. He’s basically everyone’s favorite around the barn. He’s always nibbling at pockets looking for candy treats.”

Pickett noted that Hypothesis will likely make one start at Mountaineer Park in a 4 1/2-furlong stakes on the West Virginia Derby undercard before looking to defend his titles in both the Last Enchantment and Dash For Cash. Hypothesis already boasts two wins on WV Breeders Classics night: the Vincent Moscarelli Memorial for two-year-olds back in 2019 and then last year’s Dash For Cash.

Hypothesis is the lukewarm 3-1 favorite in the It’s Only Money. Jose Montano will ride.

Although he drew the rail for the It’s Only Money, often a tricky post to overcome in a one-turn dash at Charles Town, Golden Key arrives having won twice in three starts this year and owns seven wins and over $185,000 banked in 14 career tries for owner-trainer Ronney Brown. Hero of the Coin Collector Stakes here 13 months ago, Golden Key was third while well-backed in both the Last Enchantment and WV Dash For Cash and seeks a hint of redemption against Hypothesis this weekend.

“He’s doing really good,” Brown said. “He came out of that last race at Mountaineer Park great. But he’s always come out of his races really good. I know the rail is not always ideal up here, but he’s got enough speed to get away from there and stay out of trouble. It’s going to be a good race. There are a lot of good ones in there. There are a lot of fast West Virginia-breds around and they tend to stay home where the money is good.”

Golden Key is 9-2 on the morning line and will have J. D. Acosta in the irons.

One of the more intriguing contenders for the It’s Only Money is Penguin Power (7-2), a seven-year-old Fiber Sonde gelding trained by Jeff Runco for owner David Raim. Winless in two starts this year and the beaten favorite in the Confucius Say Stakes here two months ago, Penguin Power sports a commendable 14-4-3 slate and nearly $390,000 banked from 25 lifetime starts. He is also the two-time defending champion of the Onion Juice Breeders Classic, a race at his preferred, two-turn distance of seven furlongs over the strip.

Trainer Javier Contreras will send out a pair of runners with eerily similar credentials for owner-breeder O’Sullivan Farms. Both Nico (4-1) and Bubba Grump (15-1) have recorded one win in two starts this year. Nico owns a solid 6-5-0 slate and over $150,000 banked from 13 career tries while Bubba Grump has won seven times in 13 lifetime outings.

Another trio of runners with upset prospects include Bull Meechum (10-1), Youthinkthatsfunny (8-1), and Fiber and Emily (6-1). 

Bull Meechum arrives having won three straight allowance events for trainer Anthony Farrior and owner-breeder Conroy Thoroughbreds and gets an acid test while facing stakes foes for the first time. Youthinkthatsfunny is no stranger to stakes, and the Fiber Sonde gelding owned, bred and trained by John McKee gets a favorable outside draw sporting two wins from seven starts this year and a solid 7-4-7 slate and nearly $240,000 banked from 22 lifetime tries. Fiber and Emily, fourth in the Confucius Say in his stakes debut, gets post two for owner-breeder-trainer William Atkins and certainly cannot be overlooked.

Two major long shots will start right next to one another in posts four and five, respectively. Cats Diamond Boy, a sophomore son of Cat Genius trained by Roger Rangel, listed at 30-1 on the morning line, graduated against state-bred maiden special weight foes last Saturday night. Cedar Runs Castle, listed at 99-1 on the morning line, is winless in four starts this year and owns just one win in 12 lifetime tries for trainer Andrea Covello. 

Saturday night’s feature is named for It’s Only Money, a son of My Boy Adam owned and trained by Tim Grams of Runnin’toluvya fame. It’s Only Money concluded his career with a 6-3-3 slate and over $155,000 banked, but his biggest triumph came in the inaugural running of the Charles Town Dash on July 4, 1999 when jockey Elaina Sheridan steered him to a 10-1 upset and then-track record performance of 50.36 for the one-turn dash. That standard has since been lowered twice in the Dash, first by Outcashem (50.20) and more recently by Immortal Eyes (50.09).