09/19/2009 11:00PM

Russell Road cruises in Harrell


Trainer James W. Casey and owner Mark Russell have an interesting decision to make with their standout Russell Road after the 3-year-old West Virginia-bred gelding coasted to a 5 3/4-length victory in Saturday night's $50,900 Millard Harrell Memorial Stakes at Charles Town.

Russell Road ($2.20), one of only four betting interests in the seven-furlong race in which there was win betting only, has now won five stakes this season and is 9 for 11 lifetime at Charles Town. He will be pointed to the $2 million West Virginia Breeders Classic program on Oct. 17, but his connections must figure out which race best fits him.

As a 3-year-old, Russell Road would be a prohibitive favorite against his peers in the $140,000 Lottery. They could also opt to tackle older horses in the $150,000 Onion Juice at seven furlongs, Russell Road's best distance. He is 6 for 7 racing at distances between 6 1/2 and seven furlongs.

The third option is to shoot for the big money in the $500,000 Classic. But that would require Russell Road to not only challenge older horses, but also handle 1 1/8 miles. In his lone career start beyond seven furlongs, Russell Road was beaten 15 lengths going 1 1/16 miles.

Ridden by Travis Dunkelberger, Russell Road completed the seven furlongs of the Harrell in 1:24.91. Carol's Hero was second at 64-1, 1 1/2 lengths in front of 53-1 Pagan Cat.

* W Shesdebonairness ($48) held off a late charge by 27-1 shot Nature's Annuity and survived both a jockey's objection and a stewards' inquiry to win the co-featured $51,050 Roger Van Hoozer Memorial for statebred fillies and mares.

Ridden by Arnaldo Bocachica for trainer Ronney Brown, Shesdebonairness shifted from the rail to the outside to gain a clear lead in the stretch, then drifted out slightly and was all-out to hold off Nature's Annuity by a half-length while completing the seven furlongs in 1:26.58. Shesagrumptoo, the early pacesetter, settled for third.

Jockey Luis Perez claimed a foul had been committed in the stretch run, but after a review of the films, the stewards did not alter the order of finish.

The Van Hoozer was the local prep for the $500,000 Cavada on Oct. 17.

Jule B, a two-time winner of the Cavada in 2006 and 2008, was a non-threatening fifth as the even-money favorite in the Van Hoozer while making just her second start of the season.