04/15/2009 11:00PM

Blue and Gold figures wide open


A pair of colts whose winning streaks ended while chasing Kentucky Derby contenders, two other lightly raced 3-year-olds who make their first starts of the season after going a collective 5 for 6 as juveniles, and a two-time stakes winner make for a wide-open race in Saturday night's $100,000 Blue and Gold Stakes at Charles Town.

The seven-furlong Blue and Gold goes as race 8 and serves as the second leg of an all-stakes pick four anchored by the inaugural Charles Town Classic, with its tiered purse of $500,000 to $1 million.

The nine 3-year-olds in the Blue and Gold include Russell Road and Top Seed, both exiting Grade 3 Derby preps; the long-idle pair of Colonel Rutledge and Bunker Hill, plus St John's Gospel, who has won stakes at Philadelphia Park and Laurel Park.

Russell Road returns to his home track, where he is 5 for 6, after fading to fifth in the Gotham at Aqueduct, beaten more than 15 lengths by I Want Revenge. The loss ended a six-race winning streak that began when trainer James Casey added Lasix for Russell Road's second start.

Top Seed, whose Maryland-based trainer Mike Trombetta is 7 for 13 with horses he has brought to Charles Town this season, lost for the first time in four career starts when he backed up badly to finish 15 1/4 lengths behind General Quarters in the Sam Davis at Tampa Bay Downs. In addition to General Quarters, who two starts later captured the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, the Sam Davis produced next-out stakes winners Musket Man and Cliffy's Future.

Colonel Rutledge, 2 for 2, has been off since winning the seven-furlong Ellis Juvenile at Ellis Park last August. He will be making his first start for trainer Graham Motion, who shows a 3-for-7 record with horses returning from long layoffs in sprints contested at 6 1/2 to seven furlongs, according to DRF's Formulator.

Bunker Hill, whose only loss in four starts at 2 came when he was nosed out in the Dover at Delaware Park, has been training primarily at Tampa for his 3-year-old debut. His trainer, Derek Ryan, is winless in eight starts with 180-day-plus layoff horses returning at distances from 6 1/2 furlongs to one mile.

One other who merits serious consideration is Ju Jitsu Jax, a winner in 4 of 5 starts. He comes from the connections of trainer Scott Lake and owner Robert Cole Jr., who show a record of 36 for 87 (41 percent) at Charles Town the past two years, including 3 for 5 in stakes.

Webb Snyder: Lake has potent pair

Lake and Cole have a formidable coupled entry in Place Your Bet and Tater Tutt for the 4 1/2-furlong, $100,000 Webb Snyder (race 7).

Place Your Bet, the stronger part of the entry, was a solid second two starts ago in the Paumonok Handicap at Aqueduct.

Silver Fox, claimed for $32,000 out of a powerful win in a local prep for the Snyder on March 21, and Love's Strong Hart, first or second in 7 of 10 starts in short sprints locally, are two other serious contenders.

* Eastern Delite, first and second in the last two runnings of the $450,000 Charles Town Breeders Classic, shortens up from 1 1/8 miles to seven furlongs for the $50,000 Salerno (race 5), a race restricted to West Virginia-sired horses. His chief rival, Blackhossnamdwhity, has won four straight against open company but has been idle since December.

* La Chica Rica, a Maryland-based mare who won stakes at Charles Town and Mountaineer last season, faces the sharp What Time It Is and Savethebestforlass, a 14-time winner locally, in a $55,000 handicap for fillies and mares going 4 1/2 furlongs (race 6).