It isn’t everyday that Charles Town is the main attraction in horse racing, but the day has come for Charles Town to take a bow. The biggest date on the calendar for horse racing in West Virginia has arrived. Charles Town will host the $600,000 Charles Town Classic (Gr. 2) and $200,000 Charles Town Oaks are scheduled for Friday night. Fortunately, it looks like the weather is going to cooperate and it’s going to be a nice evening.
Along with the Charles Town Classic and Charles Town Oaks, there are five other stakes races, including the $150,000 Dance to Bristol Stakes. Charles Town is typically accustomed to having feature races in the $20,000-$30,000 range, so this is a change up from the usual. Keep in mind that post time for the first race is 5:00 p.m. EST.
If you’re a regular at Charles Town, you are used to 7:00 p.m. EST. But this is a big card and they want to fit everything. There are a total of 12 races for $1,350,000. The average card for Charles Town is in the $130,000-$150,000 range, so certainly a big day on Friday. Head below for our free Charles Town picks for August 28, 2020.
Post Time: 5:35 p.m. EST
Distance: 6 ½ Furlongs
Race 2 gets us started at Charles Town on Friday with 6 ½ furlongs on the dirt. This is a typical race for Charles Town. A $17,000 purse is the norm at Charles Town. Cesar Augusto and Man of the Night should have a good run at the top prize in this one. There should be some consideration for Foney from the No. 3 post position as well.
Cesar Augusto drops down in class after struggling on July 18 and August 15. He finished 7th and 6th for a $27,000 purse in both events. So, Cesar Augusto cuts the purse down by $10,000 to $17,000 on Friday. That should help considerably. It might be enough to get him into the winner’s circle. Is it going to be enough of a class drop is the grand question for Race 2.
Foney has been struggling to open his career as well. He’s gone 7th, 6th, 4th, 8th in the first four races of his career. Foney is coming off a shoddy performance for a $27,000 purse on July 9. It’s basically the same with Cesar Augusto, who was in that same class recently, too. For the morning-line odds, I’d lean towards Foney at 9/2 as opposed to Cesar Augusto at 7/2.
Man of the Night gets the No. 1 post position in the gate. He is dropping classes today as well, so there everything in major contention in this race is going down from $27,000 to $17,000. Man of the Night has proven to be better against tougher competition, though. He finished 3rd on May 16 and June 13 in $27,000 races. Man of the Night would easily beat this competition in that form. He should be able to get things done.
Race 7 – Dance to Bristol Stakes
Post Time: 8:10 p.m. EST
We move to Race 7 on Friday night at Charles Town. This race is a bit longer and worth a lot more than our previous selection. Race 7 is the running of the $150,000 Dance to Bristol Stakes.
A Bit of Both and Please Flatter Me will likely have a say in the stretch on Friday night. Please Flatter Me has three stakes wins in the Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies Stakes (Black Type), Gin Talking Stakes (Black Type), and Alma North Stakes (Black Type) most recently on June 16, 2019.
The Alma North Stakes win was for a $100,000 purse, so that was a good win by ¾ lengths for Please Flatter Me. However, her form was well off the mark in her most recent appearance on July 17 in the $85,000 Shine Again Stakes.
After going 2nd, 1st, 7th, 2nd, that was a really disappointing performance. And note the race she finished 7th in was the $500,000 Test Stakes (Gr. 2). There was some stiff competition in that one, so it wasn’t surprising to see her struggle.
However, failing to manage a $85,000 race wasn’t encouraging. In any case, she can run much stronger than we saw during that performance. For a $12,000 horse, Please Flatter Me has already been able to exceed expectations in her career. A Bit of Both has shattered expectations.
She was purchased for $10,000 in 2017 and has gone 7 for 12 in her career. A Bit of Both was on fire to start her career, with seven wins and two outings in the top-3. She made it look easy out there. In her latest entry, A Bit of Both placed 2nd in the Dashing Beauty Stakes (Black Type) on July 11 in the $75,000 race. Solid performance, but was unable to oust Chalon in a duel in the stretch. I think he can edge out the competition in the Dance to Bristol Stakes tonight, though.
Race 10 – Charles Town Oaks
Post Time: 9:43 p.m. EST
The Charles Town Oaks (Gr. 3) is the second biggest event of the night at Charles Town. A purse of $200,000 is on offer for this 7-furlong gallop. There are a couple of familiar names in this race. Tonalist’s Shape and Hopeful Growth are on my shortlist for what should be an entertaining 2020 edition of the Charles Town Oaks.
Hopeful Growth is 3 for 5 in her career with a win in the $212,000 Monmouth Oaks (Gr. 3) by 4 lengths over Sergenti Express. That was the second win for Hopeful Growth in three races. Hopeful Growth won on May 6 in a $20,000 allowance race by 3 ¾ lengths. The fact that Hopeful Growth went from a $20,000 event, to finishing 5th in the $300,000 Delaware Oaks, and then win in fairly easy fashion as an underdog in the Monmouth Oaks was impressive.
It was an upset win for Hopeful Growth, who has gone 1st, 2nd, 1st, 5th, 1st in her career. That doesn’t look like the resume of a horse that is an underdog. In any event, Hopeful Growth faces a difficult challenge against Tonalist’s Shape. She might not be Swiss Skydiver or Gamine, but Tonalist’s Shape is a talented girl that is going to test Hopeful Growth and the rest of this field.
Tonalist’s Shape has been a big winner in her eight-race career. In those eight races, Tonalist’s Shape has taken a drop to the winner’s circle six times. The only races she hasn’t won is the Gulfstream Park Oaks (Gr. 2) and, which featured Swiss Skydiver, and $350,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (Gr. 1) on July 18 in her most recent outing.
Tonalist’s Shape was the favorite in the Coaching Club American Oaks, so it wasn’t an ideal finish for her. However, now she is down in class in a Grade 3 race on Friday night at Charles Town. Tonalist’s Shape has yet to lose an event below Grade 2. After a disappointing race her last time out, look for Tonalist’s Shape to get back on track with an impressive bid at a shorter distance today.
She didn’t like running over a mile in July, but 7 furlongs should find this manageable. Tonalist’s Shape was expected to run in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, but she’s trying something out a little easier in this one. There are going to be some quality horses in the Kentucky Oaks, and while the Charles Town Oaks isn’t chop liver, Tonalist’s Shape has seen much tougher before.