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Breeders' Cup 2017
HRN Original Blog:
The Dark Horse

Imperative scores the 26-1 Charles Town Classic Upset

Imperative Charles Town 615 X 400
Photo: Coady Photography


Many handicappers figured that either Game On Dude would repeat as Classic champion or “wise guy” pick Long River would take this year’s Charles Town Classic. That scenario did not come to be as Kent Desormeaux aboard Imperative scored the major upset on a $55.00 winner.


In a race with a pace that was expected to be hot, the plot unfolded just as expected as 3/5 post-time favorite Game On Dude, Moreno, and long shot Lucy’s Bob Boy all battled early for the lead. “I saw them leave like banshee Indians,” noted winning jockey Kent Desormeaux. “That’s how Mike rides that horse, he likes going fast. The faster he goes the better chance he has,” noted Desormeaux of Mike Smith’s ride upon Game On Dude. The track had been playing fast all night and winners were wiring the field race after race.


The jockeys, and fans, must have thought that the speed would hold in this race as well. Game On Dude was expected to repeat as champion. He grabbed the lead at the ¾ pole and in the minds of many folks watching the champion would be crowned again.


However in this race the pace absolutely melted down! Suicidal fractions of :23 2/5, :46 4/5, and 1:11 3/5 opened the door for a horse to come from behind in this three-way battle. Even Long River attempted to make a bold move at the ¾ pole, but he was never too far behind the blistering pace. Instead, 26-1 shot Imperative, son of the great Bernardini, came from behind and took the lead at the top of the stretch never looking back.


Desormeaux noted of his ride, “Imperative just dragged me up to them. The second turn, I was running over the top of them, pitched him out and went even faster. I got to them, maybe his nose on their rump, and I slowed him down and he got big breather from the three-eighths [pole] to inside the quarter [pole], and by the time we got to the eighth pole I hadn't even asked him yet. He was already passing them, and when I cued him, he just exploded. I restrained him the first three-quarters [of a mile]. I actually had to slow him down. I took a deep pull in the second turn and then once the horse that was laying third got outrun, I pitched him into that spot and turned him loose.”


Interestingly, Imperative went from being claimed for $50,000 on the second to last day at Hollywood Park, to a $1,500,000 Grade 2 winner in a matter of just four months!! "I liked his pedigree. He's by Bernardini. It's hard to buy them at the sales. They're too expensive, so we saw him being in for a tag for $50,000, so we just jumped on it, gave it a shot. We saw the horse was running on the turf, the synthetic. So he never ran on the dirt besides the 2-year-old thing that he did. We just got him because of that, to run him on the dirt at Santa Anita. That's where I train. We got lucky with it, I guess. We put blinkers and a figure eight on him and it worked out perfect,” noted trainer George Papaprodromou.


On a cool and cloudless night, the conditions were perfect for a great night of racing. The crew at Charles Town put together a great card, and the big race did not disappoint.


My Dark Horse coverage of the races can be found on my twitter account @GoDarkHorse! 










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Older Comments about Imperative scores the 26-1 Charles Town Classic Upset...

Kent Desormeaux showed the world that he is still that Hall of Fame rider. "What a horse (Imperative) and what ride". Hopefully Kent will find a 2014 Kentucky Derby mount---he has all the talent and drive to win his fourth Derby.
Hey Matt it's nice you're trying to keep my fellow Minnesotans' post up but I have to ask...did you play any exactas in pool one?
Imperative's upset earned a 107 BSF.
The Dude didn't get loose on the lead and those three turns are tough to take ---> 26-1 upset!

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Greetings and welcome to my "dark" blog!  I have been a fan of horse racing since I was about 12 years old.  Growing up in Minnesota, my dad would take me and my brothers to Canterbury Downs and I would practically beg to go every weekend!!  I made my first "big" score there hitting the win, place, and exacta in the same race at age 14 (pulled in $84 with horses named Railroad Red and Racers Dream!).  I even had a poster in my bedroom of Lost Code winning the 1987 St. Paul Derby!
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