How to Bet the Charles Town Classic

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 20th, 2018

Some major stakes races have a tendency to be dominated by the favorites, while others tend to be a bit more unpredictable.

Take, for example, the Zenyatta Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita, a race that has never been won by a horse starting at higher than 5.50-1. If you like betting favorites, that’s the type of race you should look for, but if you like longshots, I recommend that you take a look at Saturday's $1.2 million Charles Town Classic (gr. II) at Charles Town.

Suffice to say, the Charles Town Classic isn’t like most nine-furlong stakes races for older males. Since Charles Town is a six-furlong oval, the Charles Town Classic is contested around three turns and tends to unfold in wild fashion, with plenty of mid-race moves and exciting finishes. Even better, there’s only been one winning favorite in the nine-year history of the race, so value-seeking bettors can usually feel confident taking a stand against the favorite.

I’ll certainly be taking a stand against #6 Diversify, gate-to-wire winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) last fall. Diversify has shown flashes of brilliance during his career (look at all those triple-digit BRIS speed figures!), but ten of his eleven races have come in New York, and his lone run outside his home state yielded a disappointing fourth-place finish without excuse as the favorite in the Clark Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs last fall.

The Charles Town Classic will mark Diversify’s first start since then, and since he does his best running when setting a relaxed pace while on a clear lead, I’m not sure he’s going to be a good fit for the three turns of the Charles Town Classic, especially since he’ll be facing a couple of other capable speed horses.

Instead, I’ll focus on #5 War Story and #4 Something Awesome. War Story has fired off some very big efforts during his career, including a 5 ¾-length romp in the Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs last month, for which he earned a 106 BRIS speed figure. Even better, War Story was beaten just a half-length in the 2017 Charles Town Classic, proving that he can handle the conditions of this race. For good measure, War Story will be ridden by the three-time Charles Town Classic-winning jockey Javier Castellano.

As for Something Awesome, he’s spent the majority of his career sprinting or running on turf and Polytrack, but he’s shown new life since switching to dirt last winter and recently won the nine-furlong Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Stakes at Laurel Park by 2 1/4 lengths, earning a 100 BRIS speed figure in his first attempt at a dirt route since 2015.

I’ll box War Story and Something Awesome in the exacta and also key them in a trifecta:

$5 exacta: 4,5 with 4,5 ($10) $1 trifecta: 4,5 with 4,5 with 1,2,3,6,7 ($10) $1 trifecta: 4,5 with 1,2,3,6,7 with 4,5 ($10)

Good luck!