Charles Town Races Annual Race for the Ribbon

The $400,000 Charles Town Oaks will be the feature race this Saturday when Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races stages another Race for the Ribbon night.

The long evening of racing brings to the forefront the continuing battle against breast cancer with the race track presenting three stakes races worth between $85,000 (Wild and Wonderful Stakes) and $400,000. Both the Charles Town Oaks and the Researcher Stakes will present $400,000 purses.

Last year’s Charles Town Oaks was won by the second betting choice in the Test and eventual Grade I winner Book Review, while the Researcher (formerly the Red Legend) was captured by Sum of the Parts.  Past winners of the Researcher include 2010 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Big Drama and J P’s Gusto.

In addition to the two marquee races, the $50,000 Pink Ribbon will once again bear the name of the day’s theme and be run as one of the six stakes on the program.

Three sprints of four-and-a-half furlongs also highlight the docket and they are the Rachel’s Turn for state breds, the Henry Mercer Memorial and the Its Only Money, named after a successful multiple stakes winner at Charles Town.

Post time for the first race on Saturday's Race for the Ribbon card is set for 5 p.m. ET with the Charles Town Oaks scheduled to go postward at 10:30 p.m.

Bet the Charles Towns Oaks and 2013 Charles Town horse racing online with and watch it live on TwinSpiresTV.

Stakes Races on Race for the Ribbon Day:

Race # Race Post Time
6 $50,000 Rachel's Turn Stakes 7:15pm ET
7 $50,000 Henry Mercer Memorial Stakes 7:45pm ET
9 $50,000 Pink Ribbon Stakes 8:45pm ET
10 $85,000 Wild and Wonderful Stakes 9:15pm ET
11 $400,000 Researcher Stakes 9:50pm ET
12 $400,000 Charles Town Oaks 10:30pm ET

Other Charles Town Oaks News

My Happy Face, So Many Ways cross-entered to Charles Town Oaks
by Handicappers Edge 9/18

My Happy Face is the 9-5 morning-line choice and will face a full field of nine other three-year-old fillies in Saturday night's $400,000 Charles Town Oaks at the West Virginia venue. The seven-furlong Oaks is the featured race on the track's fifth annual Race for the Ribbon program and caps an All-Stakes Pick 4 that begins in the 9TH race with the $50,000 Pink Ribbon.

My Happy Face, who is cross-entered in Saturday's Cotillion at Parx Racing, started her career in stellar fashion, breaking her maiden by 21 lengths last year at Saratoga. The Tiz Wonderful filly came up just a head short of upsetting the Frizette in her next start, then closed out her juvenile campaign with a neck victory in the Tempted at Aqueduct.

My Happy Face made her seasonal debut a runner-up effort in the January 26 Forward Gal at Gulfstream Park before being transferred from Rudy Rodriguez's barn to Chad Brown's shedrow to take the Lotka Stakes at Belmont Park next out. The gray filly posted another second, this time behind divisional leader Princess of Sylmar, in the Coaching Club American Oaks two back, and most recently endured a wide trip to come up just a neck short in the Test at the Spa.

A win on Saturday night would not only push her career earnings to nearly $700,000, but would also give Brown a second consecutive victory in the Charles Town Oaks. Prior to being sent west to Bob Baffert, Book Review took down last year's version of the race for her first career stakes tally and Brown's first win at the West Virginia oval. It was a factor that Brown admits to considering when picking out this spot for My Happy Face.

"How we fared at the track definitely plays a role in coming back," Brown explained. "Book Review ran well last year and the people at Charles Town made it so easy on us to ship in and ship out that it makes it a lot easier to want to return with a horse like this."

With a filly that has Grade 1 placings at both seven furlongs and 1 1/8 miles, Brown thinks the nature of the Charles Town Oaks and track could play into My Happy Face's hands.

"We think the two-turn, seven furlongs is something she should excel at," he said. "We'll see how the field plays out, but that's the hope."

While My Happy Face looms as the likely favorite come Saturday night, she will still have to contend with So Many Ways from the Tom Amoss barn. The 2012 Spinaway winner was most recently fourth in the Test, beaten just two lengths for the top spot.

Following an undefeated two-year-old campaign that was capped with a 2 1/2-length victory in the Spinaway, the Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Sightseeing has one win from her six starts in her sophomore campaign. Despite that lone score coming in the Eight Belles on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs, Amoss has elected to scratch So Many Ways out of Churchill's Dogwood on Saturday in favor of the Charles Town Oaks.

"The money is part of it, but none of it would have come together if she didn't show us that she could handle the tight turns," Amoss said. "Just like we did last year with Sum of the Parts who won up at Charles Town, we took her over to Churchill's sister track to train over. It's a six-furlong track and she went real good around the tighter turns there and it gave us enough confidence that she wouldn't have any problems handling them."

With the question about the tighter turns already answered, Amoss set out to handle another potential obstacle by shipping So Many Ways up to Charles Town on Monday, five days in advance of the race.

"We sent her up earlier than we normally would have. She hasn't been the best horse in the paddock, so we sent her up to get settled and will start schooling her in the paddock on Wednesday night," he explained.

Miguel Mena will ride So Many Ways in the Charles Town Oaks as she breaks from post 7 as the 9-2 co-second choice on the morning-line.

Despite holding three wins in four career starts at Churchill, including a victory in last season's Debutante, Blueeyesintherein is another who elected to pass up the Dogwood in favor of the Charles Town Oaks.

Trained by Garry Simms, Blueeyesintherein rattled off three straight wins to start her career, including her lone graded win in the Debutante. Her first career defeat came at the hands of So Many Ways in the Eight Belles, where she pressed the pace and held the lead in the stretch before giving way and finishing fifth, beaten 2 1/4 lengths.

Blueeyesintherein rebounded in her next start with an easy win in an optional claimer under the Twin Spires. Simms then sent her onto the Just Smashing Stakes at Monmouth Park, where the dark bay daughter of Magna Graduate was dealt her second defeat, once again finishing fifth.

Leandro Goncalves has the mount on Blueeyesintherein.

The local contingent isn't without a presence in the Charles Town Oaks, with their hopes spearheaded by Arlington-Washington Lassie winner Gold Edge. Owned by James F. Miller, Gold Edge burst onto the scene as a two-year-old by scoring in the first three starts of her career, including her lone graded score at Arlington.

The Charles Town Oaks will mark the third different trainer Gold Edge has had in her nine lifetime outings as she makes her first start for the Charles Town-based Keturah Obed-Letts. Miller has horses with both Obed-Letts and Wayne Catalano, and transferred the chestnut miss from Catalano to the locally based connections after her seventh-place finish in the August 17 Hatoof at Arlington. The Eddington filly made the first four starts of her career for trainer Lon Wiggins.

Following her race in the Hatoof, Gold Edge was shipped up to Charles Town well in advance of the race to Obed-Letts barn. Her new trainer has noticed a change in how she's handled her surroundings since arriving.

"When (Gold Edge) got here, she was really quiet and would just stand back in the corner of her stall," Obed-Letts noted. "But now, she's taken in the sights in her new environment, has gotten back to being a horse and is training much more aggressively. I hope she can run back to her last work because it was very good and she seemed to bounce out of it great too."

Gold Edge has the services of jockey Alcibiades Cortez for the Charles Town Oaks.

The body of the race is rounded out by stakes victress R Free Roll, who will be making her first start outside of Florida; last-out Monmouth Oaks runner-up Mr. Hall's Opus; dual stakes heroine Guadalupe High; recent Delaware Oaks second Ile St. Molly; multiple Grade 3-placed Fusaichiswonderful; and Awesome Mama, who comes in off an allowance win at Charles Town in her last start.

The second horse with local connections -- the West Virginia-bred Jax and Jill -- is currently the first horse on the also-eligible list and would need a defection to compete. In addition to Jax and Jill, Thetaloveandmine occupies a spot on the also-eligible list at number 12 and would need two scratches to draw into the field.

One race before the Charles Town Oaks, another overflow field of sophomores will take to the track in the $400,000 Researcher going seven furlongs. Our Double Play will be making his first start for new trainer Philip Bauer after fading to fourth following a pacesetting run in the Iowa Derby on June 29. Prior to that, the Grand Slam colt captured the Prairie Mile in front-running fashion.

Mongolian Saturday could end up keeping Our Double Play company on the front end. The bay gelding utilized the same leading tactics in his last three to finish fourth, placed third via disqualification, in the Ohio Derby; second by a neck in the Straight Line at Arlington; and fifth by just 1 1/4 lengths in the Presque Isle Mile against older rivals just two weeks ago.

Five other stakes will take place on Saturday's Race for the Ribbon program at Charles Town including the $85,000 Wild and Wonderful sending eight runners seven furlongs, the $50,000 Pink Ribbon featuring an overflow field of 12 distaffers at the same distance and the $50,000 It's Only Money with nine West Virginia-breds going 4 1/2 furlongs.

The other two are a pair of $50,000, 4 1/2-furlong contests for juveniles -- the Henry Mercer Memorial, which drew nine colts and geldings, and the Rachel's Turn, with 10 fillies entered.

Charles Town Races 2013 Race Meet:

Dates: January 2 - December 28
Racing Schedule: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Post Times: 7:15pm ET Tuesday through Saturday  except for a special 5 p.m. first post on Charles Town Classic & Race for the Ribbon Day. 1 p.m. ET on Sunday's and Holidays

Charles Town Races Racetrack Information:

Main track (dirt): 6 furlongs, oval
Length of stretch from last turn to finish line: 660 feet
Width of backstretch: 75 feet
Width of stretch: 75 feet
Bets available may include: Win, Place, Show, Quinella, Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta, Daily Double, Pick 3, and Pick 4.

About Charles Town Races

American thoroughbred racing had its first ever winter meet in 1933, when Albert Boyle and the Shenandoah Valley Jockey Club opened their new six-furlong dirt track near Charles Town, West Virginia. This picturesque community was founded by and named after George Washington’s younger brother. The Charles Town track has since become one of the busiest in the United States.

The track as we know it today is officially called Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. Penn National Gaming bought the struggling operation in 1997 and revitalized it with the addition of slot machines – more than 3000 of them are plugged in now. That revenue has allowed Charles Town to make horse racing a thriving year-round enterprise with over 260 events on the calendar.

NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff deserves some credit, too. The West Virginia native and thoroughbred owner invested $75,000 with ESPN in 1987 to create the West Virginia Breeders Classics. This daylong event has grown to include nine stakes races headed by the $500,000 Classic itself, run over 12 furlongs and open to 3-year-olds and up.

The biggest single race on the schedule is the $1-million Charles Town Classic (nine furlongs, 4 year-olds and up), inaugurated in 2009 and elevated to Grade 2 stakes for 2012. Charles Town also hosts the Sprint Festival (aka Speed Festival), combining four open stakes with a total purse of $500,000. The biggest of these four races is the $200,000 Charles Town Invitational Dash (4.5 furlongs, 3-year-olds and up) for colts and geldings, won in 2010 and 2012 by Immortal Eyes.