09/19/2009 12:00AM

Peaceful Bliss much the best in Hilton


The unheralded Peaceful Bliss dominated a strong field that included three past winners of the West Virginia Breeders Classic in Friday night's $50,000 Robert Hilton Memorial Stakes at Charles Town.

The seven-furlong Hilton is a local prep for West Virginia-bred horses pointing to the $500,000 Classic, the 1 1/8-mile co-feature on a $2 million program scheduled for Oct. 17.

A year ago, Peaceful Bliss set the pace in the Classic before backing up to fifth, beaten more than 11 lengths by Ghostly Thunder. Friday night, the 5-year-old Peaceful Bliss ($21.60), ridden by Erick Ramirez for trainer William Campbell, trounced Ghostly Thunder, the 8-5 favorite in a field of nine, by 11 1/2 lengths while covering the seven furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.90. Dancin Banker finished third at 18-1 in his stakes debut.

The 11-year-old Confucius Say, a two-time winner of the Classic and runner-up two years ago, was in contention until deep stretch and weakened to finish fifth while making just his second start since last year's Classic, where he was a distant fourth. Eastern Delite, who won the 2007 Classic and was second last year, finished last.