04/11/2012 3:24PM

Charles Town: Duke of Mischief seeks Classic repeat


Defending champion Duke of Mischief heads a full field of 10 older horses – all of them graded stakes winners – entered on Wednesday for the $1 million Charles Town Classic.

The 1 1/8-mile Classic, elevated to Grade 2 status, is part of a blockbuster card on Saturday night that includes five other stakes and the finals of the inaugural Charles Town Starter Tournament. As race 12 on a special 13-race program that begins two hours earlier than usual at 5 p.m. Eastern, the Classic is scheduled for 10:30 p.m.

[MORE: Video previews, PPs, and wagering on the Charles Town Classic card]

The 6-year-old Duke of Mischief, who won last year’s Classic over a sloppy track, will break from post 7 under Joe Bravo.

He will be challenged by a group that includes multiple graded stakes winner Pants On Fire; the Florida-based Tackleberry, who was a two-time Grade 2 winner in 2011; and West Coast shipper Uh Oh Bango, winner of the Grade 2 San Pasqual earlier this season.

Although Duke of Mischief has finished far back in both of his 2012 starts, the most recent a turf stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, trainer David Fawkes is encouraged his horse will run well, based on a recent workout in company with top-shelf sprinter Apriority, in which Duke of Mischief recorded a bullet five furlongs in 1:01.20 at Calde, a tick faster than Grade 3 winner Apriority.

“Bravo said he wasn’t himself, but the last two works he was really happy with him.” Fawkes said. “I’m very confident. I think the horse is doing really well right now.”

In addition to Uh Oh Bango, the Classic field includes three other California-based horses in Tres Borrachos, Norvsky, and Skipshot.

Trainer Todd Pletcher dropped a surprise into the entry box with Caixa Eletronica, a sprinter who will try to stretch out to 1 1/8 miles, a three-turn race over Charles Town’s bullring.

“We’re intrigued by the race, and the horse is doing really well at the moment,” Pletcher said.

Redding Colliery, a Grade 2 winner in 2010, and Louisiana shipper Mister Marti Gras complete the main body of the field. Norman Asbjornson, Cease, and Eighttofasttocatch are on the also-eligible list.

In the other two races worth six figures:

◗ Flashy Dresser, unbeaten in two starts after taking the Rushaway at Turfway Park, shortens up from 1 1/16 miles to seven furlongs and switches from Polytrack to dirt when he faces nine other 3-year-olds in the $250,000 Robert Hilton Memorial (race 10).

◗ Magical Feeling, winner of the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap two starts ago, and Strike the Moon, who captured last year’s Charles Town Oaks, are the top contenders in a group of nine fillies and mares going seven furlongs in the $200,000 Sugar Maple (race 11).