Charles Town stakes spot plays for Aug. 26
West Virginia’s biggest day of racing features nine stakes on Charles Town’s 13-race, Friday night card, including the $500,000 Charles Town Oaks (G3) and $1 million Charles Town Classic (G2).
Below, TwinSpires highlights our top plays in the final five stakes races of the evening, beginning with Race 9, the Robert Hilton Memorial S., the first leg of the $100,000 guaranteed Pick 5.
Race 9: Robert Hilton Memorial S., 7 furlongs
Morning line favorite #3 Old Homestead (5-2) earned his first defeat in three tries at today's distance in the 7-furlong Housebuster Overnight H. at Colonial Downs last out, chasing the leader and drifting in slightly in the final furlong while finishing with a 92 Brisnet Speed rating.
The Overanalyze colt, out of Brett Brinkman's stable, will stay with rider Charlie Marquez in his first start at Charles Town. He beat #10 Alottahope (4-1) two back in the Concern S. at Laurel, but Alottahope showed marked improvement in his next start, the Star De Naskra S. for Maryland-breds, which he won by a whopping 15 lengths while clocking a 99 Speed rating, the highest last race speed figure among the field.
However, the step up in class against open company while drawing the outside post may be too much to overcome for the John Robb pupil.
We'll instead take a chance on Todd Pletcher trainee #4 Double Thunder (5-1), who makes a class drop today after last competing in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) in November. The gray colt will make his first start in nine months but has posted a number of solid workouts in preparation for his 2022 debut. Pletcher is a 24% winner with horses coming off a long layoff and a 25% winner in non-graded stakes.
Race 10: Russell Road S., 7 furlongs
#6 Wondrwherecraigis (3-5) competed against tougher last season and finished with a 6 4-1-0 record, including a pair of Grade 3 victories. But this season the Munnings gelding has just one win, back in January in the Fire Plug S. at Laurel Park. Since then he was 10th in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) and runner-up by 2 3/4 lengths in the six-furlong Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash S. at Laurel Park July 16.
The majority of his competition in the Russell Road is making a move up in class, so Wondrwherecraigis should have an advantage and get back to the winner's circle at a distance where he is 1-for-1 with a 105 Speed rating.
Race 11: Charles Town Oaks (G3), 7 furlongs
#9 Free Like a Girl (6-1) flashed a sharp 101 Speed figure when winning the six-furlong Louisiana Cup Filly and Mare Sprint S. by 6 1/2 lengths last out on Aug. 6 at Louisiana Downs. While she's moving up in class, her last speed rating is by far the fastest among the nine-horse field, and her recent 47-second, four-furlong workout and a bullet 34-second, three-furlong work at Evangeline Downs make her an intriguing value play.
Race 12: Charles Town Classic (G2), 1 1/8 miles
Defending Charles Town Classic champ #4 Art Collector (6-5) is the favorite in this eight-horse field and comes off a win in the Alydar S. at today's distance, in which he posted a 101 BRIS figure while winning by two lengths in the Saratoga event.
The five-year-old should get some competition out the gate from #2 Mind Control (2-1), who flashed a 107 BRIS rating in the Salvator Mile (G3) at Monmouth Park last out, but this is the latter's first try at 1 1/8 miles. Art Collector, on the other hand, is 6-for-7 from today's distance with a field-best 110 Speed rating at 1 1/8 miles.
Race 13: Frank Gall Memorial S., 7 furlongs
In the finale on Friday, we'll look to beat #10 No Change (7-5), who was last seen beating a handful of today's race rivals in a seven-furlong allowance at Charles Town, where he clocked a 75 BRIS rating.
Instead, we'll play #2 Social Chic (9-2), who drew a favorable inside post and is 4-for-4 from today's distance, including a win last out in an allowance at this track.
Trainer Jeff Runco is a 25% winner with horses that won their last race and is 12-for-30 (40%) when paired up with jockey Arnaldo Bocachica (29% winner this meet) over the last two months.
Social Chic's swift 35-second, three-furlong workout last week also adds to the appeal. We'll back the Upstart four-year-old in the final stakes race of the evening.