08/11/2010 12:22PM

Charterhill no secret this time at Hastings

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Charterhill surprised both the betting public and his trainer, Craig MacPherson, when he scored a front-running win at over 14-1 in a $50,000 optional race for 3-year-olds at Hastings July 24. Charterhill won’t be nearly the same price when he returns in a similar race that will serve as Friday’s feature.

In fact, Charterhill has been installed as the 8-5 favorite in the 6 1/2-furlong sprint, which drew nine horses and goes as race 7 on the eight-race card that begins at 7:15 p.m. Pacific.

“We always knew he had talent,” said MacPherson, “But he’s had to deal with a few minor problems. I have to admit I was surprised when he threw that kind of a race at them last time.”

Charterhill broke on top, and after battling through extreme fractions of 21.91 seconds and 44.85 with That’s Lucky, who finished last, he pulled away to beat Cherokee Notion by 1 1/2 lengths. Cherokee Notion came back to win the $50,000 Stellar’s Jay Aug. 2 and will be heading to Northlands Park to run in the Grade 3, $300,000 Canadian Derby Aug. 21. Despite a bullet half-mile move in 47.20 seconds Aug. 7, MacPherson isn’t sure what to expect from Charterhill on Friday.

“He’s still has some issues, so whether he can come back and repeat that race remains to be seen,” said MacPherson.

MacPherson could be overstating Charterhill’s problems. He was eligible to be claimed for $50,000 on July 24, but he is still eligible for the first-level conditions of the race and MacPherson is taking advantage of the situation by not entering him for a tag this time.

Dave Wilson retains the mount.

The main threat appears to be Crew Leader, who finished fourth to Charterhill in his second start. He will be coupled in the wagering with a couple of maidens, Ain and Northway, who probably want more distance.

Crew Leader was primed for a big effort by trainer Dino Condilenios when he made his debut in a maiden special weight race June 20. Coming from off the pace with Fernando Perez aboard, Crew Leader scored an impressive 1 1/4-length win over Don’twaitforme.

Sent off as the odds-on favorite when he came back in Charterhill’s race, Crew Leader ran a dull race to finish fourth. Condilenios said he expects Crew Leader to move forward in Friday’s race.