Stanford Leads All The Way In Charles Town Classic

by | 04.23.2016 | 6:37pm
Stanford wins the 2016 Charles Town Classic

Stonestreet Stables, Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith's Stanford was the runaway winner of Saturday's Grade 2, $1.25 million Charles Town Classic, drawing away to win by two lengths on the wire. The 4-year-old son of Malibu Moon covered nine furlongs over the fast main track in 1:50.55 for trainer Todd Pletcher, ridden to the front-running victory by Javier Castellano.

“Fantastic trip,” said Pletcher.  “He broke very well and got to the position we hoped for going to the first turn. He was on cruise control from there.”

Fastest out of the gate, Stanford was immediately accompanied by Page McKenney on his outside. Those two would travel the three turns on the small West Virginia oval together, with Stanford maintaining at least a half-length lead through fractions of :24.75, :48.86, and 1:13.75. The leading pair were tracked by S'Maverlous, the New Orleans Handicap winner, Sonny Inspired, and Charitable Annuity, while the favored Donworth took up position in the center of the pack. Imperative, winner of this race two years ago, was widest on the course in tracking Donworth.

Entering the third and final turn, Stanford felt additional pressure as Page McKenney reached his throatlatch. Responding to Castellano's urging, Stanford jumped into the bridle and sprinted away from the game Pennsylvania-bred, drawing away through the short stretch to win by two lengths. Page McKenney held second over a late-closing Donworth, and Imperative moved with him to finish fourth.

“He broke very sharp and there wasn't that much speed in the race,” said Castellano. “He broke well and I just enjoyed the ride. I thought the fractions were pretty comfortable.”

Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, Stanford was a $120,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Sale, then sold for $550,000 at the Barretts Equine Limited Sale of 2-year-olds in training. Out of a daughter of Distorted Humor, Stanford's second dam is by Storm Cat. The Charles Town Classic is the first graded stakes victory for this colt, and only his fourth overall win from 11 career starts.

Following a layoff in the summer of 2015, Stanford has put together back-to-back graded stakes placings, most recently behind his stablemate Blofeld in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. Stanford will become racing's newest millionaire with the winner's share of today's race, with overall earnings of $1.15 million. Pletcher suggested that the next stop for the colt may be the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park.

Watch the race replay here:

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