08/19/2010 4:29PM

Russell Road preps for West Virginia Breeders Classic

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Russell Road will prep for the West Virginia Breeders Classic in Saturday night’s $50,000 Frank Gall Memorial Stakes at Charles Town.

Russell Road, who was so outstanding as a 3-year-old last season that he dominated older horses in the $450,000 West Virginia Breeders Classic, begins his quest to repeat that feat when he faces seven other West Virginia-breds in Saturday night’s $50,000 Frank Gall Memorial Stakes at Charles Town.

The seven-furlong Gall is a local prep for statebreds looking to move on to either the $75,000 Onion Juice at seven furlongs or the $500,000 West Virginia Breeders Classic at 1  1/8 miles on Oct. 16.

Russell Road won 7 of 9 starts last year, highlighted by his eight-length romp in the Classic. He will be making his first start since finishing third against open company in the seven-furlong Wild N Wonderful on June 19. His only two losses in eight races going seven furlongs since April 2009 have come against open company.

Russell Road’s rivals include Peaceful Bliss, the distant runner-up in last fall’s Classic; defending Onion Juice champion Raggedy Andy, and Pagan Cat, winner of the 6 1/2-furlong Vincent Moscarelli on the West Virginia Breeders Classic card as a 2-year-old in 2008.

The 6-year-old Peaceful Bliss, seventh in the 2008 running of the Gall, returns to the West Viginia-bred ranks after being beaten a combined 19 1/2 lengths in his last two outings against open company.

Raggedy Andy, now 8, was second in the 2007 Gall. He shortens up in distance following a win going 1 1/16 miles on July 11 in a first-level optional $16,000 claimer.

Pagan Cat, badly beaten by Russell Road three times last year and once again this spring, is 0 for 5 this season, but makes the second start of his current form cycle after missing by just a length against open company in a third-level allowance last month.