09/15/2016 2:06PM

Sophia's Song stands out in Charles Town Oaks

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Sophia's Song looks far superior to her five opponents in the Charles Town Oaks.

The money is there in the Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks, $350,000 worth of coin, but the horses? They’re in surprisingly short supply. The rich six-figure stakes drew but six entrants, including the on-paper standout Sophia’s Song for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Javier Castellano.

Sophia’s Song is even-money on the track’s morning line, but given her strong running lines and high-profile connections, she seems destined for odds-on favoritism in the seven-furlong race around two turns. The local Oaks is the centerpiece of a rich 12-race program that starts at 5 p.m. Eastern. Post time for the Oaks, race 11, is scheduled for 10:18.

Charles Town’s oval is a bullring, and Sophia’s Song has never raced on a track like that, but neither have any of her rivals. Sophia’s Song, by Bellamy Road, started her career with trainer Sid Attard and cleared the maiden ranks over Polytrack at Woodbine, but it was a one-turn-mile, first-level allowance victory last December at Gulfstream that triggered her private purchase by Matthis Stable, which owns the filly with Head of Plains Partners.

:: CHARLES TOWN OAKS: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live

Sophia’s Song didn’t start between December and March but won the $80,000 Caesar’s Wish over one mile at Laurel in her first start for the new connections, and after another break, she was a fine second in a third-level sprint allowance race last month at Saratoga. Sophia’s Song made the lead in that race and finished well enough to beat the third-place horse by nine lengths while unable to hold clear the very decent Irish Jasper.

Drawn on the outside, Sophia’s Song should quickly go forward under Castellano, and the sum of her past performances suggests that seven furlongs around two turns will suit the heavy favorite. Pletcher’s last Charles Town Oaks starter, Her Smile, could only finish sixth in 2011, but he has twice won the track’s most important race, the Charles Town Classic, including a victory this year with Stanford.

Covey Trace has won her last two starts on dirt, including a recent Ellis Park allowance romp over 6 1/2 furlongs. She has so far failed to stay in traditional two-turn route races but will have a better chance to make the trip at a shorter distance with an abbreviated homestretch.

◗ Pretty Fancy is the tepid 3-1 morning-line choice in the $100,000 Pink Ribbon, a seven-furlong race for older females. Castellano rides her, too, which deflates the odds, and her backers will have to hope that every bit of speed entered in the race shows up, since Pretty Fancy could struggle to rally in time on the small Charles Town oval.

Flattering Bea, a six-time Charles Town winner, is the course specialist, but at age 6, she is past her prime, and she could only finish third in this race last year.