Todd A. Pletcher Racing Stables, Inc.

Stanford Gate to Wire in Charles Town Classic

Stanford Gate to Wire in Charles Town ClassicStanford, who just missed winning the $500,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) in his previous start, got the lion's share of a much bigger pot with a victory in the $1.25 million Charles Town Classic (gr. II) April 23 at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town RacesWatch Video

Owned by Stonestreet Stables, Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith, Stanford quickly established the early lead under Javier Castellano from post 7 entering the first of three turns in the 1 1/8-mile event for 4-year-olds and up, and held off Page McKenney, the only real challenger he had from start to finish. Page McKenney broke sharply as well from post 9 and sat just outside the leader throughout under Horacio Karamanos.

It was the first graded stakes win for Stanford, a 4-year-old colt byMalibu Moon   out of the Distorted Humor   mare Rosy Humor. Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, Stanford was a $550,000 buy at the 2014 Barretts March selected 2-year-olds in training sale.

As a 3-year-old Stanford finished a neck shy of winning the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) and later won the Long Branch Stakes. After a disappointing effort as the favorite in the Curlin Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in late July, he was put on the shelf until earlier this year.

Stanford, trained by Todd Pletcher, in February finished second in the Fred W. Hooper Stakes (gr. III) and followed up with another second-place finish, a neck behind Blofeld, in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. Both of those races were at the one-turn-mile distance.

Stanford traditionally is prominent early in his races, and the Charles Town Classic was no exception.

"He had a fantastic trip," Pletcher said. "He broke very well and got the position we hoped for going to the first turn. He was on cruise control from there."

Fractions for the Classic were :24.75 for the opening quarter-mile, :48.85 for the half-mile, and 1:13.75 for six furlongs. Stanford passed the one-mile mark in a moderate 1:38.26 as the field entered the stretch and opened up a bit on Page McKenney. He held him off to win by two lengths in 1:50.55 on a track rated fast.

Stanford paid $9.40 to win as the third choice in a field of 10. Adam Staple and Jalin Stables' Page McKenney had 1 3/4 lengths onDonworth, who finished a neck ahead of Imperative.

Page McKenney, third in last year's Charles Town Classic, was a game second in an attempt to win his fourth consecutive stakes. Donworth did well to finish third after a troubled start and wide trip throughout, while Imperative, who won the Classic in 2014 and finished second last year, had to make up ground from ninth early.

"I really like the way he did it," Castellano said of Stanford. "He broke sharply and there wasn't much speed in the race. He usually just falls into position, and I'm satisfied with how he did it today."

When asked if the tighter turns and shorter stretch run aided Stanford, Castellano said: "I think it's helpful with horses that have speed. I think this race will help the horse go forward."

Pletcher said the connections have "no firm plans" for Stanford's next race, but the June 11 Metropolitan Mile (gr. I), also worth $1.25 million, is under consideration.

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