Fear The Cowboy can upset the Charles Town Classic

The 10th annual Charles Town Classic will be held this Saturday at West Virginia’s Charles Town oval. The Grade II, $1.2 million event will be contested over 1 1/8-miles and drew a field of seven older males. The Charles Town Classic goes as Race 11 on a 13-race card; approximate post time is 5:36 p.m. EST. Feel free to try out FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

The Charles Town Classic goes through #6 DIVERSIFY (8-5, morning-line favorite), but there’s plenty of reason to be skeptical. DIVERSIFY most recently faded to fourth despite controlling a reasonable early pace in the Grade I Clark last November. This is a step down in competition for him, but DIVERSIFY will be asked to go 1 1/8-miles again while negotiating an extra turn around the six-furlong Charles Town course. He may also feel pressure from #7 AFEET WILLY in the initial stages. All of this makes him a bad bet despite Irad Ortiz Jr. shipping in for the assignment.

#1 FEAR THE COWBOY (9-2) is the most logical alternative to the Charles Town Classic favorite. He’ll get class relief dropping out of the Santa Anita Handicap, where he was a distant third in the slop. Prior to that he was a well-beaten fourth in the Pegasus World Cup behind Gun Runner, but three-back he was a handy winner of the Harlan’s Holiday at Gulfstream. Javier Castellano landed on WAR STORY, so Luis Negron takes over. As long as he gets the pace he needs, FEAR THE COWBOY should roll late for the score.

#5 WAR STORY (5-2) romped in the ungraded Challenger Stakes at Tampa last time out after four straight off-the-board finishes in Grade Is. The inherent extra distance from running three turns plays to his benefit based on his Grade II Brooklyn score last year, and it’s definitely worth noting he was a close third in this race in 2017, albeit over a sloppy track.

The play: $3 exacta box 1/5, $4 win 1 ($10)

DFJ analysis: Irad Ortiz Jr. is a daunting presence at Charles Town this Saturday. He’ll have a ride in five different stakes, including three program favorites. They are Shaft of Light (7-5) in the Russell Road, Delta Bluesman in the Caixa Eletronica, and DIVERSIFY in the Charles Town Classic.

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