09/20/2012 2:33PM

Charles Town: Moonlit Malibu must overcome an outside post in Pink Ribbon

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Michael Trombetta has Moonlit Malibu in the Pink Ribbon Stakes and A Lover's Question in the Miss Shenandoah on Saturday's all-stakes card at Charles Town.

With four wins and a second in five starts at Charles Town, Moonlit Malibu owns the best local record of any of the fillies and mares entered in Saturday night’s $70,000 Pink Ribbon Stakes. But is she good enough to overcome an outside post position?

That is the questiion handicappers face in the seven-furlong ninth race, which precedes the $400,000 Charles Town Oaks on an all-stakes 11-race program called the Race for the Ribbon. The Race for the Ribbon program, which offers a total of $865,000 in purses, is co-sponsored by the West Virginia affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Foundation to benefit breast cancer research.

Moonlit Malibu drew post 10, but is likely to move in one spot with the expected scratch of Kid Kate, who ran in Thursday’s Nasty Storm at Belmont Park. Although post 10 is statistically the worst for seven-furlong races at Charles Town (7 for 96, 7 percent), post 9 has produced 26 winners from 179 starters (15 percent), second only to post 1 (16 percent).

Moonlit Malibu, based in Maryland with trainer Mike Trombetta, tuned up for Saturday’s race by winning a 6 1/2-furlong race locally two weeks ago.

Her opponents include Majestic Samurai, who has been first or second in her only two previous visits to Charles Town; Withgreatpleasure, who has finished first in three of her five starts this season; and Bayonne, who will be bidding for her third straight win locally

◗ A Lover’s Question must answer the question of how she will handle dirt in the $75,000 Miss Shenandoah for 2-year-old fillies (race 8).

In four starts, A Lover’s Question has raced exclusively on turf, winning the Jamestown at Colonial Downs. She does show three bullet workouts since June 12 over Laurel Park’s main track. In addition, her trainer, Mike Trombetta, is 6 for 17 (35 percent) with 2-year-olds switching from turf to dirt.

Her chief challenges figure to come from a pair of impressive last-out maiden winners, Gallant Performer and Flattering Bea. Gallant Performer surprised at 12-1 by winning her career debut by 12 1/4 lengths three weeks ago. Her trainer, Rhea Pennella, is 0 for 14 with last-out maiden winners.

Flattering Bea cruised to an 8 3/4-length win at Delaware Park in early August. She may not have beaten much that day, however, as the runner-up from that race, She’s Speightful, returned to post a 49 Beyer Speed Figure.

There are also eight stakes for West Virginia-breds on the card. These races serve as preps for the Oct. 20 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic program. Here is a capsule summary of the statebred stakes:

◗ Jax and Jill, a winner by a combined 12 lengths in her first two starts, will be favored to remain unbeaten in the $50,000 Rachel’s Turn for 2-year-old fillies going 4 1/2 furlongs (race 6).

◗ Hidden Canyon, who romped by 9 1/2 lengths winning his career debut in July, and In the Fairway, who improved dramatically making his first start wearing blinkers, head a group of 2-year-old colts and geldings in the $50,000 Henry Mercer Memorial at 4 1/2 furlongs (race 7).

◗ Black Belt, second in last fall’s $450,000 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic, and Son of a Bear, who finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Black Belt in last month’s Frank Gall, renew their rivalry in the $45,000 Roger Ramey Handicap at 1 1/16 miles (race 5).

◗ Silver Heart, a 7-year-old mare who won last year’s $225,000 Cavada, looks imposing against five other fillies and mares in the $35,000 Ann Hilton Handicap at seven furlongs (race 1).

◗ Rita Haywood, coming off a 4 1/4-length win in last month’s Sylvia Bishop Memorial, is the 123-pound highweight among six 3-year-old fillies in the $35,000 Roberta Grump Handicap at seven furlongs (race 2).

◗ Buckle Bunny Babe, whose six victories have all come at distances of 6 1/2 furlongs or less, will attempt to stretch out to 1 1/8 miles for the $35,000 Noble’s Honey Handicap for fillies and mares (race 3).

◗ Lucy’s Bob Boy bids for his fifth straight victory against five other 3-year-olds going seven furlongs in the $35,000 Harry Buch Handicap (race 4).

◗ Rummy’s Command returns to statebred company for the first time since finishing second by a neck in last October’s Onion Juice in the $35,000 Dr. Ernest Benner Handicap for 3-year-olds and up going 6 1/2 furlongs (race 11).