11/06/2008 1:00AM

Charles Town: Russell Road one to beat


Pagan Cat and Russell Road, who have combined to win their last five starts by a collective 49 1/2 lengths, clash for the first time in the $100,000 Tri-State Futurity at Charles Town.

The seven-furlong race, restricted to 2-year-olds foaled in Maryland, Virginia, or West Virginia, drew a field of seven, including two fillies.

Pagan Cat, no closer than three lengths behind the winner in his first four starts, responded to the addition of blinkers by crushing maidens and then upsetting the $112,000 Vincent Moscarelli Memorial at 11-1 on the West Virginia Breeders Classic card three weeks ago. He will be racing on Lasix for the first time, but needs to improve his best Beyer Speed Figure by about 10 points to threaten Russell Road, if that one runs his race.

Russell Road was scratched from the Moscarelli but returned last Friday to easily win a second-level allowance against open company. His three-race winning streak includes a 12-length restricted stakes score over a sloppy track.