Updated on 04/21/2015 8:44AM

Moreno steals show in Charles Town Classic

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Barbara D. Livingston
Moreno pays $16 as the surprise winner of the $1.5 million Charles Town Classic.

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - While Shared Belief was pulled up on the backstretch of the $1.5 million Charles Town Classic on Saturday with an apparent stifle injury, Moreno was storming home a two-length winner in track-record time.

Shared Belief's injury took the focus off Moreno but does not diminish his accomplishment. Moreno took the early lead, relinquished it to 80-1 shot Warrioroftheroses, retook command with a half-mile to go and finished strongly without being seriously threatened.

"I knew when we and that other horse, Warrioroftheroses, separated from the pack early that we were okay," trainer Eric Guillot said. "I knew that other horse would come back to us."

Moreno earned a winner's share of $852,000. And since Moreno is a previous Grade 1 winner, Guillot and owner Mike Moreno also will split a $50,000 participation incentive written into the conditions of the Classic.

Shared Belief injured during Classic

Shared Belief was eligible for a $100,000 bonus under the race conditions for winning the Pacific Classic last summer. Unfortunately, the conditions state that the bonuses will be paid to a horse that "starts and finishes the 2015 Charles Town Classic." Since Shared Belief didn't complete the course, he apparently loses the bonus.

Jim Rome, the sports talk show host and a part owner of Shared Belief, said on his Twitter account at 7:50 p.m. Saturday, that "Shared Belief is up and walking around in the barn. He is off in his behind. Vets have been w/ hi. Does not appear to be life threatening."

Guillot, in the winner's circle after the race, said he planned to freshen Moreno and then point him to the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga, a race he won last year. Guillot said he might run Moreno first in the Grade 1, $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 13. The Foster is a Win and You're In for the Breeders' Cup Classic this fall at Keeneland, a race that also is on Guillot's radar.

Moreno, ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, paid $16 to win as the third betting choice in the nine-horse field behind Shared Belief and General a Rod, who finished fifth.

Imperative, who won the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic last year, finished second to Moreno, 2 1/2 lengths ahead of third-place finisher Page McKenney. Vyjack finished another length back in fourth. Warrioroftheroses tired to eighth.

Moreno was timed for the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.81, breaking Researcher's track record of 1:49.76 by almost a second. Researcher set the record three weeks before he won the inaugural Charles Town Classic in 2009.

Moreno, a 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper, has now won 4 of 26 starts. He won his maiden in his 10th career start and then took the 2013 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park in his next start. After a number of near-misses against top company, Moreno won the Whitney last August at Saratoga.

That Shared Belief didn't finish in the top three triggered huge show payoffs as $621,000 of the $692,000 in the show pool was wagered on him. Moreno paid $23.20 to show; Imperative paid $41.60 to place and $71.20 to show; and Page McKenney paid $45.60 to show.

The Charles Town Classic was an appealing spot for show plungers because Shared Belief was a very heavy favorite and because West Virginia is one of only a few states that has a miminmum show payoff of $2.20. The majority of states pay $2.10.