$1,000,000 cHARLES tOWN cLASSIC 2019
APRIL 20, 2019
FIRST RACE 12:30PM EST
After only ten runnings, the Charles Town Classic has already established itself as a prominent early season stop for the best handicap horses in training. As of January 2017, the 61 different horses to start in the Charles Town Classic had combined for 116 graded stakes wins – 30 of which were Grade I’s.
The fields assembled have proved popular with fans as well, as the Charles Town Classic cards run to date have produced the eight largest handles in track history, with a high of $4,847,106 in 2015.
On April 16, 2011, the Grade 3 Charles Town Classic became the first graded stakes race held at Charles Town in the track’s 77-year history. The newly minted grade helped produce one of the year’s strongest races as the 2011 Charles Town Classic was the first non-Breeders’ Cup race in the United States to have 10 or more starters, 100% of which were graded stakes winners going into the gate since the 2006 Arlington Million. While Duke of Mischief came home the winner, the race produced the three finalists for the older male Eclipse Award in Acclamation, Game on Dude and Tizway.
Following the 2011 running, the Charles Town Classic received an upgrade to Grade 2 status for 2012 and again produced a field of 10, comprised entirely of graded stakes winners. Caixa Eletronica denied Duke of Mischief a repeat and gave trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Javier Castellano their first wins in the Charles Town Classic.
On April 20, 2013, the Charles Town Classic and its $1,500,000 purse jumped into rarified air as it joined the 2001 Haskell as the richest thoroughbred race contested in U.S. racing history outside of the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup World Championships. Ultimately, Game on Dude was able to avenge his defeat in the 2011 Charles Town Classic as the popular gelding bested Clubhouse Ride and multiple Grade 1 winner Ron the Greek by a half-length in the closest finish in the race’s history. The all-sources handle of $4,398,985 smashed the previous record for a single card in track history, set in 2012.
Game on Dude was back to defend his title in the 2014 Charles Town Classic and shipped to West Virginia fresh off becoming the first horse to ever win the prestigious Santa Anita Handicap for a third time. Lying in wait for the defending champ was a familiar foe in Clubhouse Ride, eventual Whitney Handicap (G1) winner Moreno and local star Lucy’s Bob Boy. However, it was a 26-to-1 outsider who pulled off the major upset as Imperative, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, swept past Game on Dude on the far turn and became the longest shot to ever win the Charles Town Classic.
2015 saw Shared Belief, the top-rated horse in the world as per the Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings, make his first-ever trip outside of California to contest the Charles Town Classic against the likes of Moreno, Vyjack and defending champ Imperative. However, Shared Belief would be pulled up on the clubhouse turn and Moreno powered home to victory in track record time with Imperative rallying for second. The card shattered all single-day wagering records at Charles Town with $4,847,106 bet in total, including an incredible $2,423,332 bet on the Classic itself.
In 2016, a front-running Stanford would give Pletcher and Castellano their second victory in the Charles Town Classic as the son of Malibu Moon coasted on the lead to a two-length score over the popular Mid-Atlantic star Page McKenney.
In 2017, Castellano would win his third Charles Town Classic while he piloted 2014 champ Imperative to his second victory in West Virginia’s richest horse race.