06/28/2012 2:07PM

Charles Town: Russell Road giving Wild and Wonderful another shot


The connections of millionaire West Viriginia-bred Russell Road are hoping the third time’s the charm when he faces open company in the $100,000 Wild and Wonderful, the richest of five undercard stakes on Saturday night’s Sprint Festival program at Charles Town that is topped by the $400,000 Red Legend for 3-year-olds.

Despite collecting 20 wins and $1.1 million in earnings from his 30 races at Charles Town, the 6-year-old Russell Road is 0 for 2 in the seven-furlong Wild and Wonderful after finishing third each of the last two years. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite in 2010, Russell Road endured a wide trip and came up a half-length short against My Friend Nev. A year ago, he finished 2 3/4 lengths behind winner Wink at the Girls.

Owner Mark Russell and trainer James W. Casey are eager to give Russell Road one more chance against a quality field that includes Guam Typhoon, who has raised his Beyer Speed Figures from 87 to 102 in three consecutive wins since he was claimed by Jamie Ness, and Bandbox, runner-up in last month’s Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap.

“We know it’s going to be a tough race, but this is the one we wanted to run him in,” said Casey. “He’s just at the top of his game right now.”

In two starts this season, both against statebreds, Russell Road scored by daylight in the seven-furlong Confucius Say and the 4 1/2-furlong It’s Only Money. He prepped for Saturday’s race by working a bullet five furlongs in 58.20 seconds on June 16.

“Honestly, we worked him the other day and it was the best work he’s ever had,” Casey said. “I can’t say he’s going to win, but he’ll run well. We’re definitely optimistic about that.”

To get the job done, Russell Road will have to run faster than he did in either of his races this year, earning Beyer Figures of 87 and 82.

Guam Typhoon, a 6-year-old claimed for $25,000 in February, comes off a career-best 102 Beyer for his five-length score against $65,000 optional claimers at Delaware.

Bandbox, a 4-year-old colt with 4 wins and 3 seconds in 9 lifetime starts, returns to Charles Town, where he registered the biggest victory of his career in the seven-furlong Charles Town Juvenile in 2010. He closed to get second, beaten 1 1/2 lengths, in the Maryland Sprint Handicap on the Preakness undercard while earning a 94 Beyer.

Trainer Rodney Jenkins said he expects Bandbox to move forward making the second start of his current form cycle.

“I thought he ran very well in the race down in Maryland,” Jenkins said. “He was coming off a three-month layoff, made a nice middle move, and flattened out a little in the lane. He’s ready for Saturday.”

In the other undercard stakes:

◗ Jazzy Idea, a two-time stakes winner in turf sprints, returns to the main track and stretches out to seven furlongs for the $75,000 Lady Charles Town for 3-year-old fillies (race 8). The eight-horse field also includes New York shipper Hard Mystery, winner of an overnight stakes at Belmont Park two starts ago, and Doe, winner of an overnight stakes at Delaware Park in her first start off the claim for trainer Wayne Cole.

◗ Immortal Eyes, 6 for 7 lifetime at Charles Town, seeks to capture the $70,000 Charles Town Dash Handicap for the third time. The 4 1/2-furlong sprint (race 7) is the first leg of a $25,000 guaranteed all-stakes pick four that culminates with the Red Legend.

◗ Down Town Allen, a nine-time stakes winning 5-year-old mare, seeks to defend her title against with other West Virginia-bred fillies and mares in the $50,000 Fancy Buckles at 4 1/2 furlongs.

◗ Paco Smart, last year’s West Virginia-bred 2-year-old champion on the basis of two stakes wins and close second in three consecutive starts, comes back from a five-month layoff to take on five other statebred 3-year-olds in the $50,000 Coin Collector at 4 1/2 furlongs (race 4).