11/17/2011 1:11PM

Charles Town: Russell Road stands out in A Huevo


Recent millionaire Russell Road heads a group of three last-out stakes winners from last month’s West Virginia Breeders’ Classic program entered in Saturday night’s $50,000 A Huevo Stakes for West Virginia-breds at Charles Town.

In addition to Russell Road, who surpassed the $1 million mark in career earnings by taking his 14th stakes in the $450,000 Classic, the field for the 1 1/8-mile A Huevo includes Pagan Cat, who outran his 19-1 odds to take the seven-furlong Onion Juice, and Golden Set, winner of the seven-furlong West Virginia Lottery for 3-year-olds.

It’s hard to imagine that Pagan Cat, who has lost to Russell Road eight times since they both were 2-year-olds in fall 2008, or Golden Set, who has yet to race beyond seven furlongs in his nine-race career, can handle Russell Road if he comes close to the performance in which he won the nine-furlong Classic with 90 Beyer Speed Figure.

But then, few bettors expected Russell Road to fail in last year’s A Huevo, when he settled for second as the 1-10 favorite after winning the same race by eight lengths in 2009.

The most logical upset candidate is Plantation, a lightly raced 4-year-old who set the pace before weakening to finish third in the Classic, his first try in a race beyond 1 1/16 miles. Plantation, however, probably will not be on the early lead in the A Huevo, thanks to presence of Tup Take’ Please.

The 5-year-old Tup Take’ Please makes the unusual shift from a pair of 4 1/2-furlong sprints to 1 1/8 miles. Although he has a solid 9-for-17 lifetime record, Tup Take’ Please has never raced beyond seven furlongs. He was third behind Russell Road in the seven-furlong Confucius Say in April and second to Russell Road going 4 1/2 furlongs in the It’s Only Money in May. Both times, Tup Take’ Please was beaten less than two lengths.

Tup Take’ Please’s sprinter’s speed will likely force the 5-for-8 Plantation to stalk rather than go to the front as he prefers to do.

The field also includes Sea Rescue, who upset Russell Road at 57-1 in the 2010 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic. The pace was not sufficiently fast enough for Sea Rescue to rally in last month’s Classic, though he did make up nearly 12 lengths in the last three furlongs.