12/14/2011 2:59PM

Gulfstream Park: Adios Charlie returns from injury in optional claimer

Tom Keyser
Adios Charlie hasn’t started since a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Adios Charlie appeared well on his way to having a major impact on the 3-year-old division during the second half of the 2011 season until a bone bruise, discovered in late July, put a temporary hold on his promising career.

Adios Charlie’s much anticipated comeback begins Friday at Gulfstream Park, when he closes out his brief but successful 3-year-old campaign against a full field of older second-level optional claiming rivals that also includes Uptowncharlybrown, the fifth-place finisher in the 2010 Belmont Stakes.

Adios Charlie’s rise through the 3-year-old ranks during the spring and early summer began with a 6 3/4-length maiden win at Gulfstream on March 30. Three weeks later, Adios Charlie became a Grade 2 winner after defeating Astrology by 2 1/2 lengths in Aqueduct’s Grade 2 Jerome. His ascent in the division then continued with second-place finishes behind Alternation in the Grade 2 Peter Pan and Dominus in the Grade 2 Dwyer, shortly after which he was discovered to have a bone bruise in his hind left leg.

“It was a big disappointment to have to stop on him this summer, we were looking at races like the Pennsylvania Derby and possibly even the Travers for him at the time, but hopefully he’ll be able to come back and have a big 4-year-old campaign,” said Stanley Hough who owns Adios Charlie in partnership with Robert Sahn. “I would have liked to have had a little more time to get him ready for this race, but I’m looking at either the Sunshine Millions or perhaps the Donn next, and this will give us a little more time until then."

Uptowncharlybrown was on the Kentucky Derby trail in 2010 following a series of big efforts at Tampa Bay Downs that included a victory in the Pasco, third in the Grade 3 Sam Davis, and fifth in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby. But his progress was disrupted shortly thereafter due to the death of his trainer, Alan Seewald.

Uptowncharlybrown ran under the name of Seewald’s assistant, Linda White, when finishing a late-running third in the Grade 2 Lexington before being transferred to Kiaran McLaughlin for the Belmont. He was subsequently sent to the farm of his present trainer, Eddie Coletti Sr., after suffering a soft-tissue injury while being prepared for the 2010 Haskell.

Uptowncharlybrown has started twice on the comeback trail, finishing second under allowance conditions at Belmont on Oct. 8 and a troubled fourth at Parx Racing four weeks later. Due to weather conditions, a scheduled work on the turf last Sunday was switched to the main track over which Uptowncharlybrown breezed an easy half-mile in 47.80 seconds.

“He’s bred for grass,” Coletti said. “We really wanted to try him on the grass. But he’s sitting on a win on dirt, and we don’t want to throw that away either.”

Our Dark Knight, who won a high-priced optional claimer by nearly two lengths to open his 2011 campaign here in January, will be a major player if he starts, although he was cross-entered by trainer Nick Zito in Saturday’s Harlans Holiday overnight stakes.

Praetereo, who pressed the pace before tiring badly in the Grade 1 Blue Grass in April, was purchased privately by his present connections early this summer and is coming off a third-place finish against optional claiming company at Aqueduct on Nov. 9.