04/20/2017 12:36PM

High Roller, Kinsley Kisses tepid favorites in Hilton Memorial, Sugar Maple

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
High Roller is cutting back from 1 1/16 miles to seven furlongs for the Robert Hilton Memorial for 3-year-olds.

The two richest undercard stakes on Classic Day at Charles Town on Saturday are a pair of seven-furlong races, the $100,000 Sugar Maple, for fillies and mares, and the $85,000 Robert Hilton Memorial, for 3-year-olds.

The 13-race card, which starts at 12:45 p.m. Eastern, also includes four $50,000 stakes for West Virginia-breds, two overnight handicaps, and the first running of the Russell Road, named for the West Virginia-bred winner of 31 races and $2 million who retired last year at age 10.

The Charles Town Classic card will be streamed live on DRF.com. A $100,000-guaranteed all-stakes pick four will be offered on races 9-12, comprised of the Hilton, Sugar Maple, Charles Town Classic, and the Confucius Say for statebreds.

The Hilton and Sugar Maple, both of which will be run around two turns over the six-furlong Charles Town track, are wide open.

High Roller, based with trainer Dale Capuano at Laurel Park, won the seven-furlong Frank Whiteley Jr. in January and has since finished fourth in the one-mile Miracle Wood and the 1 1/16-mile Private Terms. Rather than stretching out to 1 1/8 miles in Saturday’s Federico Tesio at Laurel, he is shortening up here.

He could go favored with Javier Castellano named to ride.

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Other contenders include Cool Arrow, trained by Joe Sharp; Farley, who races for Doug O’Neill; and Power Walker, who is coming off a seven-furlong maiden win over the six-furlong Delta Downs track for Tom Amoss.

A horse to keep an eye on at a bit of a price is Liar’s Dice, who two starts back finished second, beaten only a length, by Recruiting Ready in a first-level optional-claiming race at Laurel. Recruiting Ready came back to win the Bachelor Stakes at Oaklawn Park on April 13 by 5 1/4 lengths. Liar’s Dice, trained by Damon Dilodovico, came back to win a first-level optional claimer at Laurel by the same margin.

◗ The Sugar Maple only has a six-horse field, but there does not appear to be much separating the three outside horses – Kinsley Kisses, who races for Todd Pletcher; Mia Torri, trained by Jorge Navarro; and Ultimate Holiday, conditioned by Michelle Nevin.

Kinsley Kisses, with John Velazquez aboard, is the likely favorite. She returned from a seven-month layoff to win a second-level optional-claiming race at Gulfstream Park on March 24.

Mia Torri won the Sunshine Millions Distaff Sprint in January and most recently was fourth in the Grade 2 Inside Information. Castellano rides.

Ultimate Holiday, the likely third betting choice, won a second-level optional claimer at Aqueduct in February. She weakened to finish seventh last out in the Correction at Aqueduct. Manny Franco picks up the mount.

◗ The final leg of the pick four will match two of the best West Virginia-breds in training at seven furlongs in the Confucius Say.

Last October, over a sloppy track, Slip the Cable won the $450,000 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic by 7 1/4 lengths over the favored Charitable Annuity. A month later, Charitable Annuity turned the tables on Slip the Cable in the A Huevo, winning by 2 3/4 lengths.

At seven furlongs, Slip the Cable is the horse to beat even though he will be making his first start of the year for leading trainer Jeff Runco. A winner of 7 of 12 starts and $347,000, this will be his first start as a gelding.

Charitable Annuity, trained by James W. Casey, has finished off the board in his last two starts – stakes at Laurel Park – but is 13 for 23 in his career, with earnings of $666,000.