04/13/2011 4:42PM

Charles Town Classic: Inherit the Gold back on short rest in quest of $1 million purse

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Inherit the Gold will come back two weeks after winning the Grade 3 Excelsior at Aqueduct for Saturday night's $1 milliion Charles Town Classic.

When trainer Jim Hooper opted to run Inherit the Gold in the Grade 3 Excelsior Stakes at Aqueduct on April 2, he all but ruled out running the gelding back in the $1 million Charles Town Classic this Saturday. But as much as he may have wanted to give his New York-bred gelding a break, Inherit the Gold had other ideas.

Thus, Inherit the Gold will put his five-race winning streak on the line against nine other graded stakes winners in the $1 million Charles Town Classic at Charles Town, one of six stakes on an 11-race card that begins at 6:30 p.m. Eastern. Anointed a Grade 3 race for the first time, the Charles Town Classic drew tremendous interest with 14 horses entered. The race is limited to 10 starters and thus four – including two-time Classic winner Researcher – were relegated to the also eligible list.

Under the conditions of the race, graded stakes winners since April 16, 2009 were preferred and Researcher had not won a graded race since the 2008 Queens County.

Inherit the Gold only became a graded stakes winner when he romped to a 6 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Excelsior. It was his fifth consecutive victory, a streak that began on Dec. 16.

“The horse didn’t want to stop, he just didn’t want to stop,’’ said Hooper, who added that exercise rider Marco Acosta told him. “ ‘He loves you, but he’s going to kill you if you’re not going to let him run.’ Every day I’m looking for a reason not to run and they’re not there so we’re coming.’’

Inherit the Gold drew post 6 and will be ridden by Eddie Castro, who is coming off a victory aboard Toby’s Corner in the $1 million Wood Memorial last weekend at Aqueduct.

“When he won the Wood Memorial that put a chill down my spine,’’ Hooper said. “It was starting to dawn on me at that point that I could take one of the hottest jockeys in the country and one of the hottest horses in the country and run for a million bucks.’’

He will be running against a solid field of older horses, led by Game on Dude, who won the Santa Anita Handicap in his last start, and the underappreciated Tackleberry, who has won three consecutive stakes at Gulfstream, including the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap.

Though Game on Dude won the Santa Anita Derby with Chantal Sutherland aboard, trainer Bob Baffert is making a change to David Flores, because of that jockey’s experience at smaller configured tracks. Flores rides very well at Fairplex, which is similar in size to Charles Town. The Charles Town Classic will be run around three turns.

“He’s a tremendous bullring rider,’’ Baffert said of Flores. “He worked him for me here and got to know him a little bit.’’

Game on Dude, the high weight at 123 pounds, drew post 10.

Tackleberry will break from post 2 under Javier Santiago for owner/trainer Luis Olivares.

The field, from the rail out, with riders, is: No Advantage (Manual Chaves), Tackleberry (Santiago), Acclamation (Christian Santiago Reyes), Rule (John Velazquez), Inherit the Gold (Castro), Gone Astray (Cornelio Velasquez), Duke of Mischief (Joe Bravo), Awesome Gem (Travis Dunkelberger), and Game on Dude (Flores).

Sweet Goodbye tries again in Sugar Maple

Sweet Goodbye is 5 for 6 at Charles Town with her only loss coming as the 4-5 favorite in last year’s $250,000 Sugar Maple Stakes for fillies and mares at seven furlongs.

Saturday, Sweet Goodbye will try to make amends for that loss when she faces nine rivals in the Sugar Maple. Sweet Goodbye, trained by Christopher Grove, is coming off an 11 1/2-length victory in a seven-furlong allowance race at Charles Town on March 26.

Shipping in for the Sugar Maple are Choragus and C.C.’s Pal, the one-two finishers from the Wayward Lass Stakes at Tampa on Feb. 26, and Hyperlink, who won the Manatee Stakes at Tampa on Jan. 29 and who is coming off a runner-up finish in the Queen Stakes at Turfway Park on March 26.

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