Charles Town Classic 2021 Entries: Art Collector will attract interest

Bill Mott now trains Blue Grass winner Art Collector
Bill Mott now trains Blue Grass winner Art Collector

The $800,000 Grade II Charles Town Classic tops the bill as the feature race of the year at Charles Town in West Virginia. The race has attracted an intriguing field of ten with two prominent three-year-olds from the 2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby headlining along with the defending champion.

Neil Monnery has an overview of the runners following the Post Position draw earlier today…

Charles Town Classic 2021 Entries & Post Positions
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  • Warrior's charge
  • Noble Drama
  • Rushie
  • Bourbon Calling
  • Informative
  • Ny Traffic
  • Sleepy Eyes Todd
  • Art Collector
  • Restrainedvengence
  • Air Token

The changes to the Road to the Kentucky Derby last year saw extra races added and new dates for familiar preps. This allowed some late developing three-year-olds to make their mark and Art Collector was probably the one that showed himself more than any other.

Victory in the Grade II Blue Grass over star filly Swiss Skydiver got him into the Derby and he followed that up by adding the Ellis Park Derby to his resume. He wouldn’t run under the Twin Spires in the big race itself due to a minor foot issue.

Fourth at the Preakness and eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile saw this son of Bernardini finish his 2020 campaign in a disappointing fashion but a sixth place finish on his return from a long layoff in June at Churchill Downs was enough to see him moved to Bill Mott’s stable. He’s one from one under his new trainer having won the Alydar up at Saratoga. This is a very interesting race for him as victory would vault him back into the upper echelons of the 4+ division.

Another older horse looking to recapture some of his 2020 form is Ny Traffic. This four-year-old may not have won any of his big races last year but he was extremely competitive, chasing home Authentic in a tight finish in the Grade I Haskell and being bested by Maxfield and Wells Bayou in the Matt Winn and Louisiana Derby respectively is nothing to sniff at.

2021 hasn’t been as kind however as after a nice refresher in an Allowance Race up at Belmont, he finished second in the Salvator Mile at Monmouth before failing to hit the board in the Monmouth Cup. I’m much more inclined to believe in Art Collector over Ny Traffic as the best chance to bounce back and be very relevant in this division.

Bodemeister colt Informative beat Ny Traffic in the Salvator Mile in June but that result seems like an outlier considering that was the only time he’s hit the board in his past eight outings. Handicapping wise he's a straight toss for me.

Defending champion Sleepy Eyes Todd might have one of the best horse names out there but this traveling show is no joke. His connections are happy to fly him all over the country (and world) but it was here a year ago that this son of Paddy O’Prado made his big breakthrough and won his first race at Graded Stakes level.

Since then he’s raced at Santa Anita, Keeneland, Gulfstream Park, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and returned to the US at Fonner Park. He only won twice but it is hard not to root for this horse given the way they take on all comers all over the place. A four-month freshening up has occurred after his traveling exploits and this is a fine spot for him to re-engage.

Brad Cox sends out Warrior’s Charge on the back of finishing runner-up to Maxfield at the Grade II Stephen Foster down at Churchill Downs. Despite having two Grade III wins on his resume, this was his most impressive run to date and coming in behind Maxfield is nothing to sniff at. This horse certainly isn’t a toss when it comes to handicapping the race.

Rushie has struggled to recapture his 2020 form but this son of Liam's Map has been surprisingly entered having been expected to go to Del Mar for the Pat O'Brien Handicap. Having finished fourth in the Hollywood Gold Cup and sixth in the San Diego Handicap, I'm not expecting much from him.

Switching back to dirt following four straight outings on turf is California based Restrainedvengence who ships cross-country and should be considered a bit of a longshot along with Bourbon Calling and Noble Drama - who leaves Florida for the first time. Air Token will be the rank outsider.

It is a good looking field with three or four real win candidates. My gut feel is with Art Collector to remind us that he's a pretty darn good horse and take it out.

J.N. Campbell will be handicapping the action at Charles Town for Friday’s card so check back for his thoughts on this race...

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