04/12/2012 11:25AM

Charles Town: Ex-claimer Brimstone Island back for shot at Robert Hilton Memorial Stakes


For the first six races of his career, Brimstone Island was strictly a claiming horse, running for a tag as low as $7,500 in January at Charles Town. Saturday night, Brimstone Island returns to the West Virginia bull ring, only this time he will be shooting for a $250,000 purse in a stakes.

Much improved since he was taken by owner-trainer William Campbell on Feb. 1, Brimstone Island will try to prove his recent placings in a pair of minor stakes in Maryland were no fluke in the seven-furlong Robert Hilton Memorial for 3-year-olds.

The Hilton is among six stakes, plus the finals of the inaugural Charles Town Starter Tournament, on a 13-race card featuring the Grade 2, $1 million Charles Town Classic. The Hilton goes as race 10 at 9:15 p.m. Eastern.

Campbell, based at the Bowie Training Center in Maryland, watched with interest as Brimstone Island beat conditioned $7,500 claimers at Charles Town and crushed $10,000 claimers 11 days later at Laurel Park. When Brimstone Island ran back for $16,000, Campbell dropped a slip in the claiming box and was delighted to see the son of Tiznow romp by 11 1/4 lengths.

“I’d seen him in there for $9,000 and figured something had to be wrong with the horse, or they didn’t think much of him running for $7,500,” Campbell said. “They ran him back for $16,000, and I figured he’s got to be worth a shot. I didn’t know what to think after that. He seemed okay.”

Campbell hiked Brimstone Island directly to stakes company for the Miracle Wood at Laurel, and the colt responded by finishing second.

“I decided to take a shot in that stake and he ran big, and so we did it again,” Campbell said, referring to Brimstone Island’s third-place finish in the one-mile Private Terms.

Now, Brimstone Island faces stiffer competition in the Hilton, where the unbeaten Flashy Dresser goes for his third consecutive win following an easy score sprinting on dirt at Gulfstream Park and a half-length victory as the 9-5 favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Rushaway on Turfway Park’s Polytrack.

“He’s been a very pleasant development,” Flashy Dresser’s owner-trainer Fred Seitz said. “He’s got speed, and he showed that this winter at Palm Meadows. For a big horse, he’s got a lot of speed, so he should be able to handle seven furlongs.”

The 10-horse field also includes The Camden Comet, winner of back-to-back starts going 6 1/2 furlongs at Parx Racing, and locally based Trippi’s Secret, who was second by a length in the six-furlong Dancing Count at Laurel and fourth after dueling early in the OBS Sprint at the Ocala Training Center.