07/02/2013 7:02PM

Mountaineer: Russell Road works hard to win Independence Day

Coady Photography
Russell Road (left), with Jose Montano aboard, gets up by a head in the final jump over Whatthecatdrugin and Hector Rosario in the Independence Day.

Millionaire West Virginia-bred Russell Road, making a rare stakes appearance away from his home track of Charles Town, outfought pacesetter Whatthecatdrugin during a spirited stretch duel to narrowly prevail in the $75,000 Independence Day Stakes at Mountaineer Racetrack on Tuesday evening.

Both the Independence Day and its companion stakes for the fillies and mares, the Firecracker, were shifted from turf to a main track rated good.

The 7-year-old Russell Road had to work hard to earn his 25th lifetime victory in 43 starts. He got within a head of Whatthecatdrugin with three furlongs remaining, but looked beaten when Hector Rosario coaxed a late surge of energy from the 6-year-old Whatthecatdrugin in deep stretch and he moved in front by a half-length at the eighth pole. Jose Montano, on Russell Road, never quit riding and his mount responded to get up by a head. It was 4 1/4 lengths back to New York shipper Sneaky Kitten. The winning time was 1:39.20.

It was the 19th stakes win for Russell Road ($5.40), but his first against open company since the Blue and Gold as a 3-year-old in 2009. He is trained by James W. Casey for owner Mark Russell.

Sharp Sally, who won an off-the-turf allowance in her most recent start in May, capitalized on the shift of the Firecracker from turf to dirt to win the first stakes of her career.

A 4-year-old filly ridden by Luis Rivera for trainer Tim Schuh, Sharp Sally ($16.40) rallied strongly in the stretch to draw clear by 1 1/2 lengths. She completed the mile in 1:39.90 while winning her third straight race and fifth in nine lifetime starts for Preston Stables.

Hennyville finished second, 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Starsilhouette, the 3-2 favorite. The loss snapped a four-race winning streak for Starsilhouette, who was racing on dirt for the first time since finishing second in a $10,000 claimer at Aqueduct in March 2011.