08/22/2010 11:37AM

Black Belt wins Gall Memorial as Russell Road finishes off the board


Black Belt, a 3-year-old facing older horses for the first time, made it 3 for 3 shipping into Charles Town for stakes restricted to West Virginia-breds. But the biggest news in Saturday night’s $51,200 Frank Gall Memorial Stakes was the rare flop turned in by defending West Virginia Breeders Classic champion Russell Road.

Sent off as the prohibitive 1-10 favorite on the basis of his 13-for-17 lifetime record at Charles Town, the 4-year-old Russell Road endured a wide trip from post 8, and after getting to within a half-length of Black Belt on the final turn of the seven-furlong race, faded badly to finish sixth, beaten 10 1/4 lengths.

Of the $240,968 in the show pool, $233,020 was bet on Russell Road, who had been worse than third only twice previously in 20 career starts. As a result, the show payoffs were skewed.

Black Belt, based at Thistledown with trainer Gerald Bennett, paid $16.20 to win but $61 to show. Peaceful Bliss, who finished 1 1/4 lengths behind Black Belt at 13-1, paid $90.40 to show. The third-place horse, 36-1 shot Raggedy Andy, returned a whopping $145.80 to show.

Black Belt, ridden by Dale Beckner, previously won the 4 1/2-furlong Coin Collector in mid-June and the seven-furlong Leavitt on Aug. 7. Both races were restricted to 3-year-old statebreds. In winning for the fourth time in 16 lifetime starts, Black Belt covered the seven furlongs in 1:26.24.