08/19/2009 11:00PM

Russell Road tough at home track


Locally based 3-year-old star Russell Road continues his march toward the lucrative West Virginia Breeders Classic program when he challenges six older statebreds in Saturday night's $50,000 Frank Gall Memorial Handicap at Charles Town.

Trainer James W. Casey has a couple of different options for Russell Road on the Oct. 17 West Virginia Breeders Classic card, which will be worth a record $2 million. He could keep Russell Road at the Gall distance of seven furlongs against straight 3-year-olds in the $125,000 West Virginia Lottery or build up his stamina to attempt 1 1/8 miles for the first time in the featured $500,000 Classic, a race open to older horses.

Russell Road, 7 for 9 on his home track, tuned up for the Gall when he returned from a seven-week layoff to dominate four rivals in a seven-furlong restricted stakes Aug. 8.

Listed at 2-5 on the track's morning line with coupled entrymate Henry the Lover, Russell Road figures to get his stiffest challenge from Gold Standard, a 5-year-old who was second in last year's Gall as the 8-5 favorite. Gold Standard will be making just his second start since December.

* Rutledge Lion, a winner in his career debut May 31, and Kid Kearney Gabe, second against open company in the Mountaineer Juvenile last time out, look like the fastest of seven statebred 2-year-old colts and geldings in the co-featured $50,000 Henry Mercer Memorial at 4 1/2 furlongs.

The Mercer is a prep for the $125,000 Vince Moscarelli on Oct. 17.