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Apr 16, 2010

Researcher out to defend $1 million Charles Town Classic


Charles Town, WV (Sports Network) - Defending champ Researcher has been entered in defense of his crown in Saturday's $1 million Charles Town Classic at Charles Town Races and Slots. This is the second running of the 1 1/8-mile stakes.

The Charles Town Classic was conducted for the first time in 2009 with a base purse of $500,000. The actual value of the race was $615,000 with Researcher posting a 2 1/4-length victory over Ea. The winner's share was $360,000.

Researcher has drawn post nine in the 10 horse field and will be ridden by Luis Perez. The six-year-old gelding is owned by Rutledge Farm and trained by Jeff Runco.

Last year's Classic winner is coming off an easy victory here in an allowance race. In his career he has won nine of 13 starts at Charles Town for $555,180. Overall, he has lifetime earnings of $800,129 with 12 wins in 25 starts.

"I don't know what it is about this place other than he trains here and lives here," said Runco. "He loves it and handles the turns really well. I would have rather had something a little more inside (post) but it won"t hurt us too bad."

Awesome Gem, winner of the 2009 Hawthorne Gold Cup, will start from post four with David Flores in from California to ride. The seven-year-old gelding is trained by Craig Dollase for West Point Thoroughbreds.

Since winning at Hawthorne last October, Awesome Gem was seventh in the Breeders' Cup Classic, eighth in the Kilroe Handicap and third in last month's New Orleans Handicap.

In his career Awesome Gem has won six of 33 starts for better than $1.7 million. He has also finished second 11 times.

Four-year-old colt Gone Astray makes his second start of the year Saturday night. Trained by Shug McGaughey, Gone Astray will be ridden by Robby Albarado from the two post.

Owned by the Phipps Stable, the colt is coming off a third-place finish as the 3-2 favorite in the Razorback Handicap last month at Oaklawn Park. Last year he won the Pennsylvania and Ohio Derbies. Gone Astray closed his 2009 season in November with a third-place result in the Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct.

The favorite in his last three starts, Gone Astray has four career wins in 14 starts for $880,262.

Here is the complete field for the Charles Town Classic in post position order: Fiddlers Afleet, Channing Hill; Gone Astray, Robby Albarado; Encaustic, Justin Shepherd; Awesome Gem, David Flores; Acting Zippy, Terry Thompson; Understatement, David Cohen; Indian Dance, Luis Garcia; No Advantage, John Acosta; Researcher, Luis Perez and Redding Colliery, Rosie Napravnik.

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