04/10/2014 5:16PM

Lea to miss Charles Town Classic due to fever

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Barbara D. Livingston
Lea, winner of the Donn Handicap, will miss a planned start in the Charles Town Classic due to a fever.

The anticipated showdown between Game On Dude and Lea in the Grade 2, $1.5 million Charles Town Classic on April 19 will not happen as Lea has been withdrawn from consideration for the race after developing a fever, trainer Bill Mott said Thursday.

Mott said Lea was diagnosed with the temperature Monday at his winter/spring base of Payson Park.

“Everything is down to normal today, but obviously his system has been challenged,” Mott said by phone. “We’re going to back off of him for a while.”

Mott had previously said he was hoping to make the Grade 1, $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on June 7 with Lea.

“We’d like to do that, I don’t know if we’ll have time to run in the Westchester or not,” said Mott, referring to the Grade 3, $150,000 Westchester, a one-turn mile race at Belmont Park on May 11.

Lea, a son of First Samurai, had established himself as one of the leading older males in training by virtue of victories in the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope and Grade 1 Donn Handicap, both at Gulfstream Park.

It remains to be seen who will challenge Game On Dude, last year’s Charles Town Classic winner, in this year’s race. Clubhouse Ride, second in the Charles Town Classic last year; Long River, second in the Excelsior last month; and Percussion, fourth in the Charles Town Classic and third in the Excelsior, are among the possible starters.