Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
In recent years the Charles Town Classic has become one of
the most anticipated races of the year for the Older Male Division. It has
steadily attracted more and more attention, luring more quality horses into its
gates, and this year is no exception. The 2013 Charles Town Classic has
to be one of the best fields in recent memory. Even though there is a lack in
quantity there is none in quality as the field drew the defending champion Caixa Eletronica, the first and second place finishers in this year’s Big Cap, Game on Dude and Clubhouse Ride; and the Sunshine Millions Classic winner Ron the Greek.
What makes this year so unique is that it offers a rubber
match between Ron the Greek and Game on Dude, who last met in the Santa Anita
Handicap. The Dude reversed his BC Classic loss and came home in the top spot that day as much the best, but that was
over his home track, Santa Anita, which favors his running style over the late
running style of Ron the Greek.
In the Santa Anita Handicap, Game on Dude was allowed a clear
lead and was never really pressured. He is dangerous enough at Santa Anita, and when
given a clear lead there are very few who can run him down. That race was also
run around two turns, whereas this time he will have to negotiate three. That
extra turn can catch many horses off guard, and easily become a favorite’s
undoing. He will also have two Pletcher trainees who may try to entertain him
up front. Percussion wired an allowance field two starts back, and has been up
close in his other two starts this year, as has his stablemate, Mordi’s Miracle. A new track, a third turn, and a little more pace pressure could be
what levels the playing field between Ron the Greek and Game on Dude.
While Ron the Greek and Game on Dude will probably garner
most of the attention and the betting, Caixa Eletronica, the 2012 Charles Town
Classic winner, may just go off unnoticed. That, however, seems to be when this
sneaky little horse is at his best. This horse can sprint, he can route,
he can lead, he can close, put simply he can do it all….even win at a bullring
track such as this.
It would not be a surprise to me to see this Repole warrior zip by both Ron the Greek and Game on Dude simply because of how versatile he
is. He is ultra-consistent and has one thing both Ron the Greek and Game on
Dude don’t have….a good experience over the course. Game on Dude has run over
the track, and was second in the race two years ago, but was soundly beaten by
longshot Duke of Mischief. If he couldn’t hold off a longshot then, what reason
is there to think he will now? This will be Ron the Greek’s first time
negotiating the Charles Town bullring, so he is still an unknown, where Caixa
Eletronica has already demonstrated an affinity for the track.
So, while the race seems like a two horse race on paper, and
could very well turn out that way, there is still a strong possibility that it
could end up either a three way vie for the wire, or a one horse romp. Has Game on
Dude improved enough to dominate in his second try? Will Ron the Greek run by
them all in the stretch? Or, will Caixa Eletronica surprise them all, taking his second
consecutive classic? Tomorrow, we will have our answer.