Shared Belief, owned in part by Jim Rome’s Jungle Racing will be sent off as the chalk in Saturday’s $1.5 million Charles Town Classic (G2) at Charles Town Races & Slots in West Virginia.
In just six short years, the Charles Town Classic has become one of the top races of the year for the handicap division, and one of the richest, with a $1 million payday to the winner.
The Bob Baffert trained Game On Dude helped put the race on the map, winning in 2013. The gelding came back to defend his title last year but was upset by Imperative, who pulled off the shocker at 26-1.
Imperative was claimed for $50,000 by trainer George Papaprodromou in December of 2013, and earned $1.2 million in 2014. He comes into this race in poor form and is 15-1 on the morning line.
Shared Belief is the 2-5 morning line favorite and has won 10 of his 11 career starts. His lone loss came in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) last fall, getting compromised at the break when eventual winner Bayern veered inward.
The gelding is perfect in three starts this year, taking the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in his last outing. The gelding is currently the top ranked horse along with Australia’s Able Friend in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings and is ranked first in the America’s Best Racing Media Poll.
This race will set him up for the $1.25 million Met Mile (G1) on Belmont Stakes Day.
Let’s head out to Charles Town for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Charles Town Race 12 The Charles Town Classic G2 Post time 6:05 ET
7 General a Rod 12-1
4 Shared Belief 2-5
6 Moreno 7-2
3 Street Babe 15-1
General a Rod appears to have the best shot of an upset, and since it is going to be tough to take Shared Belief at 2-5, we will look for more value with this colt, who ran in all three jewels of the Triple Crown last year. His best outing was a fourth in the Preakness (G1).
The colt landed in the Todd Pletcher barn and came off a seven month layoff with a disappointing fourth against Alw-2 optional claimers, but then earned a career top speed fig when stretched out, winning the Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. The runner up Old Time Hockey came back to win the Florida bred Turf Classic in his next start while third place finisher Neck ‘n Neck came back to run second in the Ben Ali (G2) at Keeneland on April 11.
The colt likely will need to run another career top to beat the chalk, but he may still have some upside making his third start off the bench and he can handle the extra ground. Worth a look if he goes off near his 12-1 morning line.
Shared Belief has won 10 of his 11 career starts, the lone loss coming when he had trouble coming out of the gate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in a fourth place finish. He bounced out of that loss by winning his last three, including beating California Chrome soundly in the San Antonio (G2) and last out a good looking score in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). The gelding is going to get some pace to run at and he handled the tight turns at Los Al and seems likely to do the same here. Is jockey Mike Smith has had enough trips over this surface including winning this race aboard Game On Dude 2013 and running second last year aboard the gelding.
The colt would have to regress to lose this, but it is going to be tough to back him if all we see is 2-5 or 3-5.
Moreno brings some speed to the party and speed tends to hold up in route races over this surface. However, the gelding does not win often, just three trips to the winner’s circle in 25 career starts with 15 total in the money finishes.
He may end up with plenty of company on the front end and the only way he could possibly win this would be if he was able to shake loose early and set moderate early fractions, and I just do not see that happening.
WIN: General a Rod to win at 6-1 or better.
EXACTA: 4,7 / 3,4,6,7
TRIFECTA: 4,7 / 3,4,6,7 / 2,3,4,6,7
Michael’s Triple Crown Package includes his full card reports for the three jewels of this year’s Triple Crown! Included in this package is his full card report for Kentucky Derby Day, Preakness Day and Belmont Stakes Day. BONUS: This package also includes his Kentucky Oaks Day Report!