Charles Town’s biggest event of the year, the Grade II, $1.25 million Charles Town Classic, is scheduled for this Saturday. A field of eight hailing from all parts of the country has assembled for this lucrative stake. Two of the entrants, favored STANFORD and second-choice IMPERATIVE, have won this race before, and STANFORD is the defending champion. Post time for the 1 1/8th-mile contest, the 11th of the day, is 5:35 p.m. EST. Plenty of top-notch jockeys will be on site at Charles Town this Saturday, so be sure to take this article into account when playing FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!
#1 STANFORD (8-5) will have John Velazquez aboard as he attempts to repeat in the Charles Town Classic. Last year trainer Todd Pletcher named Javier Castellano to ride STANFORD, but Castellano wound up on IMPERATIVE this time around. Velazquez should have no problem getting STANFORD to the lead from the rail post and should have an easy time maintaining control as there is little early speed entered against his mount. STANFORD already has two stakes wins to his credit this year and is in good position to add a third.
#5 IMPERATIVE (3-1) nosed out STANFORD when they met in the inaugural Poseidon Handicap on the Pegasus World Cup undercard at Gulfstream but has been plagued by inconsistency throughout his career. Sandwiching that Poseidon victory are two off-the-board performances with no excuses. However, if IMPERATIVE stays true to his pattern he should fire a peak effort today. Castellano in the saddle is a confidence-booster.
#2 SUNNY RIDGE (6-1) had an uninspiring end to his three-year-old career last year but has turned it around with two straight stakes victories at Aqueduct in 2017 (the Jazil and the Stymie). The Charles Town Classic will be a step up in class for this son of Holy Bull, but he isn’t pace-dependent and seems to want to run all day. He’ll be passing tired ones late if nothing else in this three-turn test under Manny Franco.
The play: $5 exacta 1/2,5 ($10)
DFJ analysis: John Velazquez has a good shot at a personal Pick Three with his troika of Saturday mounts. Cool Arrow could get his day started at a decent price in the Hilton Memorial Stakes before he takes the reins on probable favorite Kinsley Kisses in the Sugar Maple. Velazquez’s biggest win of the day should be in the Charles Town Classic with STANFORD.
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