Charles Town offers solid card on Valentine's Day

Profile Picture: Ted Black

Ted Black

February 13th, 2018

While the track may still be two months away from hosting its first stakes of the season and its entire week of racing was nixed last week by inclement weather and poor track conditions, Charles Town is offering an intriguing card on Wednesday evening as a trio of one-turn sprints should get the heart racing on Valentine's Day.

Right at the midway point of the eight-race card is a salty, one-turn allowance dash for older horses, the type of race that Charles Town fans have come to crave and expect. Two of the track's oldest stars will clash in this event, with several others looking to pick up the pieces if both of them falter.

Having drawn outside in the field of seven is Roman Officer, a fleet-footed seven-year-old Roman Ruler gelding trained by Kevin Patterson. Last year Roman Officer won four of five starts, ending his season on a three-race win streak capped by a narrow score in the two-furlong - yes quarter-mile dash - allowance at Mountaineer Park in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Roman Officer has won four of his five starts at the distance over the strip and his lone loss came last April against El Deal, who developed into one of the top sprinters on the east coast and garnered a Grade I sprint at Saratoga. Roman Officer has won 14 of 41 lifetime starts and banked $335,000 and looms the odds-on choice in this one-turn dash.

While Roman Officer has enjoyed ample recent success in the sprints at Charles Town, Greenway Court has been among the more successful local dashers here for quite some time. A nine-year-old Windsor Castle gelding trained by James W. Casey, Greenway Court won twice in five starts last year, including the It's Only Money Stakes. He has won 17 of 27 starts in one-turn events here and boasts 18 wins in 36 career outings overall with lifetime earnings just shy of $475,000. He may not always fire his best shot, but Greenway Court is a tough customer at the distance locally on most occasions.

Last fall, George Town Cat handed Greenway Court a rare defeat in the one-turn events here when he posted a 41-1 shocker in the West Virginia Dash For Cash Stakes on West Virginia Breeders Classics night. It was the first stakes triumph for the horse and owner-trainer Manolo Mangual. George Town Cat won twice in 11 starts last year and now owns a 9-8-6 slate and $164,000 banked from 37 lifetime outings. He will be an outsider again in this event, but he has already proven his ability to stun the locals.

Also looking to play spoiler roles in here are Fall At Last, who makes his local debut for trainer Greg Tracy; Portent, another speed ball for Patterson; Coach Casey and Cat Come Home, a consistent sort of owner-breeder-trainer John McKee of Rachel's Turn fame.

One race later the track will also present an interesting one-turn maiden special weight event for three-year-olds. Pagan Smart has finished second in each of his first two starts for trainer Leslie Condon and was beaten favorite in his most recent outings and looms the favorite again from the outside. Both Castle Five and Affix delivered promising efforts in their career debuts while third and fourth, respectively, in varying maiden special weight events, while Last Print and Opera Date loom live first-time starters for trainers Javier Contreras and Jeff Runco, respectively.

Then two races later in another one-turn allowance affair, Court Date seeks his third straight score for owner-breeder-trainer Lela Hanagan while cutting back in distance from a two-turn allowance score last out. Both Braxton and Rolling Brook should garner plenty of attention in here as well. Braxton was second as the 3-10 choice in his latest outing for Contreras, while Rolling Brook sports a 1-5-1 slate and $40,000 bankroll from 11 starts for owner-breeder-trainer John McKee.