04/16/2015 2:05PM

Maryland shippers look tough in Sugar Maple

Barbara D. Livingston
Sugar Maple favorite Flattering Bea (right) is 5 for 7 over the Charles Town surface.

While the serious business of the Charles Town Classic won’t come until race 12 on Saturday, there are a number of interesting races leading up to the main event.

Two open stakes will be run just prior to the Classic, the $150,000 Sugar Maple and the $100,000 Robert Hilton Memorial. And the four $50,000 West Virginia-bred stakes that come earlier on the card have drawn some local favorites who should put on a good show.

A $100,000-guaranteed all-stakes pick four will begin on race 9 and conclude with the Grade 2 Classic. The entire Charles Town card will be streamed live on DRF.com.

The two-turn, seven-furlong Sugar Maple for fillies and mares is carded as race 11 and will match two Maryland shippers, Flattering Bea, who won this race last year, and Printasticat.

Flattering Bea broke a seven-race losing streak in her last start with a four-length score in the Violet Handicap at Charles Town on March 18. Trained by Crystal Pickett, Flattering Bea is now 5 for 7 over the six-furlong Charles Town track.

Printasticat has improved markedly since being claimed by trainer Claudio Gonzalez for $8,000 at Laurel Park in March 2014 and hasn’t been offered for a claiming tag since July. She was second last out behind the ultra-sharp Eddy Gourmet in the Conniver, a Maryland-bred stakes.

Nesso, trained by Sandino Hernandez Jr., is coming off a third-level allowance victory at Tampa Bay Downs.

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The eight-horse field is expected to lose Frivolity, who is entered in the Grade 2 Distaff at Aqueduct on Saturday.

Trainer Tom Amoss has won the last two runnings of the Hilton Memorial (race 10) with Rise Up and Free World. This year, he brings in Control Stake, who in his last start won the Big Drama Stakes at Delta Downs. The Big Drama, like the Hilton, is a seven-furlong race around two turns for 3-year-olds.

“His form is similar to Rise Up,” Amoss said. “They’re fast sprinters, and he has speed. Those are the types of horses I like to bring to Charles Town.”

Control Stake’s main rival should be To the Victor, trained by the New York-based Michael Dilger. To the Victor returned from a four-month layoff to be a fast-closing second to El Deal in a Parx allowance race. El Deal, also based in New York, is 3 for 3 in his career.

Although nine were entered in the Hilton, Noteworthy Peach is expected to scratch and instead run in the Federico Tesio at Pimlico.

The rivalry continues

Russell Road and Lucy’s Bob Boy will meet for the 10th time since October 2012 in the seven-furlong Confucius Say (race 6).

Lucy’s Bob Boy has finished in front of Russell Road in five of their nine races, but Russell Road sprang a 9-2 upset over 1-2 Lucy’s Bob Boy when it counted most last October, getting up in deep stretch to win the $450,000 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic by a half-length.

Russell Road, 9, will be making his first start since that race after being given the winter off at the Taylor Mountain Farm of his trainer, James W. Casey. Russell Road, a winner of 23 of 41 starts at Charles Town, has career earnings of more than $1.9 million.

Lucy’s Bob Boy, 6, also has 23 wins at Charles Town. He raced throughout the winter for trainer Sandra Dono and holds a fitness edge in the Confucius Say. Lucy’s Bob Boy has earnings of more than $900,000.

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◗ Down Town Allen will make her 8-year-old debut following a five-month layoff in the seven-furlong Original Gold Stakes (race 5). Like Russell Road and Lucy’s Bob Boy, Down Town Allen has an amazing local record – 24 wins from 37 starts.

Down Town Allen has won 14 straight races at Charles Town dating to June 2012. She was beaten once during that period when she shipped out of town to Mountaineer. Down Town Allen, trained by John A. Casey, has earned more than $1 million.

◗ Hear the Chatter was the best 2-year-old to race at Charles Town last year. He will make his 3-year-old debut for John A. Casey in the 4 1/2-furlong Coin Collector Stakes (race 1).

Hear the Chatter was 5 for 5 at Charles Town last year, with four stakes victories. He was beaten twice when he ventured out of town, once to Laurel and once to Delaware Park.

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◗ Favoritism in the Its Binn Too Long Stakes (race 9), a 4 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies, might go to Get the Sensation. In her last start, Get the Sensation won a Charles Town allowance race at this distance, earning a 77 Beyer Speed Figure, the highest of anyone in this field.

◗ The card also includes the $35,000 Caixa Eletronica, an open handicap at 4 1/2 furlongs. The race will rematch the 10-year-old Immortal Eyes against War and Thunder, who beat him by three-quarters of a length last time out.

Immortal Eyes is a fan favorite in the Mid-Atlantic region. In addition to having an 11-4-0 record in 16 starts at Charles Town, he has won the De Francis Dash at Laurel, the Teddy Drone and Mr. Prospector stakes at Monmouth, and stakes at Mountaineer and Colonial Downs.