03/24/2011 10:02AM

Charles Town: Researcher preps for Charles Town Classic

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The new connections of the millionaire Researcher will find out this weekend whether their plan to bring the 7-year-old gelding back to the races after an 11-month absence with an eye toward taking the $1 million Charles Town Classic for a third time is a realistic goal.

Researcher, who has not run since winning the 2010 Classic, will tune up for a possible start in this year’s Classic on April 16 when he faces five other older horses in a 1 1/8-mile no-conditions allowance race at Charles Town on Saturday night.

Purchased by Zohar Ben-Dov’s Kinross Corporation with the intent on turning him into a jumper, Researcher did not adapt well to the steeplechase world. Several months ago, plans were revised to bring the horse back to the racetrack.

“We made a decision around January 1 that we were going to create a plan for the horse to get back to this point and make an effort at the Charles Town Classic,” said Neil Morris, who has taken over as Researcher’s trainer. “He’s done everything textbook so far that we’ve asked him to do.”

Since he was placed back in training, Researcher has posted three bullet workouts, the most recent being a 1:01.60 five-furlong breeze at Charles Town on March 19.

While Morris wants to see a solid effort Saturday night in order to take the next step to the Charles Town Classic, he said it’s not a must-win situation for the horse.

“I don’t need to see a win on Saturday night,” Morris said. “I’m more interested in seeing him come from off the pace, make his run, and finish strong.”

Most of Morris’s success as a trainer has come with jumpers. He is just 2 for 42 with horses running on the flat in dirt races the past five years.

Among the challengers for Researcher in Saturday’s eighth race are In The Juice, who is 2 for 2 in nine-furlong races at Charles Town, and Edgewater, winner of last September’s 1 1/8-mile Governor’s Day Stakes at Delaware Park.