04/18/2013 12:58PM

Charles Town: Sugar Maple looks wide open after Book Review's scratch

Tom Keyser
Holiday Soiree finished second to Book Review in the $400,000 Charles Town Oaks last September.

Saturday night’s $200,000 Sugar Maple Stakes at Charles Town became a wide-open affair after trainer Bob Baffert confirmed Thursday that even-money favorite Book Review would scratch from the seven-furlong race after developing an elevated white-blood cell count upon her arrival in West Virginia.

“She won’t run,” Baffert said, noting that the filly had to be treated with antibiotics.

Her scratch reduces the Sugar Maple field to six, and though Holiday Soiree and Dance to Bristol were cross-entered in other spots, they will both be running here.

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Tevis McCauley, the trainer of Holiday Soiree, was certainly not unhappy when told by a reporter that Book Review would not be running.

“That’s the best news I’ve heard in a long time,” McCauley said Thursday afternoon. “That should make us the favorite in that spot even off the layoff. We weren’t scared of her but of course we were worried about her.”

Holiday Soiree was cross-entered in the $100,000 Giant’s Causeway at Keeneland and the $75,000 Primonetta at Pimlico.

After two more starts – a fourth in the Indiana Oaks and a second in the Safely Kept at Laurel last November – Holiday Soiree was given a break.

In the interim, Thomas Berry’s Unlimited Equine LLC purchased majority interest in the filly and transferred her to McCauley. Holiday Soiree will break from the rail under Kendrick Carmouche.

“She’s run very well from the rail in the past. We got a house rider in Carmouche. We’ve done everything we can to have her ready,” McCauley said.

Dance to Bristol, who was also cross-entered in the Primonetta, has won her last two starts at six furlongs. Though she is winless in three starts at seven furlongs, trainer Ollie Figgins III doesn’t think that will be a problem.

“I think seven-eighths at Charles Town will be fine for her. It’s a little more speed-oriented racetrack,” Figgins said. “I’m optimistic.”

Xavier Perez, aboard for Dance to Bristol’s last two victories, will ride.

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Dangerous Vixen is the local threat. She has won two of her last three starts, including the Violet Handicap here on Feb. 26.

Katie Got Excited makes her 3-year-old and dirt debut in the Sugar Maple. She has raced exclusively over the synthetic surface at Woodbine. She has not raced since finishing third in the Duchess Stakes last July 28.

Kalambaka Queen, a former claimer who raced three times in March, and Bayonne, second to Ruffian winner Withgreatpleasure in a starter handicap at Charles Town two starts back, complete the field.