Art Collector Makes Charles Town Classic His Favorite – Horse Racing News

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Art Collector and Luis Saez win the Charles Town Classic

Bruce Lunsford’s art collector validated his status as a 1.30-1 favorite by defeating a stubborn defending champion in Sleepy Eyes Todd and winning the $800,000 Charles Town Classic (G2) top prize at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia on Friday night. Ridden by Luis Saez, the son of Bernardini became the first favorite to win the Charles Town Classic since Game on Dude in 2013.

Sleepy Eyes Todd – trying to become the first repeat winner of the Classic since Researcher in 2010 – was dispatched in the lead and carved out opening splits of 23.80 and 47.90 for the first quarter-and-a-half mile under rider Ry Eikleberry, with Art Collector glued to his side for much of the early race. With Saez and Art Collector in the lead, they looked poised for a convincing victory, but were fought off every step of the way by the world traveling Sleepy Eyes Todd before prevailing by a length and a half on the wire.

“I thought I had it [Sleepy Eyes Todd] going home,” Saez said. “He looked pretty good and that’s why I tried to attack quite early. Art Collector gave me this kick but it was struggling in the stretch. It was just a nice finish.

By winning the Classic, Art Collector gave its Hall of Fame revitalizer Bill Mott his first win at the West Virginia Oval.

California shipper Rushie finished 5 1/2 lengths behind Art Collector in third with another West Coast presence in Restrainedvengence rounding out the superfecta.

On the betting front, the $7,179,783 wagered on Friday night’s Charles Town Classic card set a new single card handle record for the track, breaking the previous mark of $5,720,375 set on the 2019 Classic card. .

“We couldn’t be happier with how the evening went, how our riders and fans responded, and the record that resulted,” said the vice president of racing and sporting operations. of Charles Town, Erich Zimny. “It’s a testament to the work that our Director of Races, Charlie McIntosh, and the Race Office staff have done to put together such a deep and competitive map that we look forward to developing in 2022.”

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Norma D. Ross