05/19/2011 2:20PM

Charles Town: Russell Road shortens up in It’s Only Money Stake

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Russell Road doesn’t fit the mold of a horse who excels in ultra-short sprints, races in which pure speed often dominates.

So handicappers must ask themselves whether Russell Road’s classy résumé, which includes 16 wins in 25 starts, is enough to compensate for the cutback to 4 1/2 furlongs in the $50,000 It’s Only Money Stakes for West-Virginia-breds at Charles Town.

The 5-year-old Russell Road has never raced at less than six furlongs. In fact, his last eight starts, dating back to April 2010, have been either around two turns going seven furlongs at Charles Town’s bull ring or three-turn events at 1 1/8 miles. He hasn’t been in front at the half-mile call in his last six starts.

In contrast, Rock to Bop has registered all six of his victories in 4 1/2-furlong sprints and runs well off the bench. The last two times Rock to Bop returned from an extended break, he won by four lengths or more.

Two other horses shortening in distance who have shown sufficient speed to be effective going 4 1/2 furlongs are Tup Take’ Please and Black Belt.

Tup Take’ Please, a winner the only time he tried 4 1/2 furlongs, comes off a wire-to-wire win against open allowance company going seven furlongs. Black Belt, 3 for 4 at Charles Town, makes his first start since December. The last time he raced 4 1/2 furlongs, Black Belt won the Coin Collector last June.