February 5, 2023

Third time might be the charm for War Story in Charles Town Classic

Something Awesome (outside) winning the Charles Town Classic (c) Coady Photography/Charles Town

As has become customary, Saturday’s $1 million Charles Town Classic (G2) has attracted some familiar faces.

There’s Something Awesome, who gutted out a neck victory in the 1 1/8-mile Classic at odds of 9-1 last year. Then there’s the nine-year-old Imperative, who won the race in 2017 and also way back in 2014. However, their recent form leaves something to be desired.

Then there’s War Story, the victim in the photo finish with Something Awesome who also fell two necks short of Imperative two years ago. The Classic will mark his first outing since November.

“This is the first real break he’s had since I started training him, and there’s no doubt that the break has done him good,” trainer Jorge Navarro said. “He’s been training really, really well and we know he obviously likes the track.”

Also returning from an absence dating to Breeders’ Cup weekend is Discreet Lover, eighth to Accelerate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) after posting a 45-1 shocker in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). Discreet Lover could do no better than sixth in this race last season.

“In last year’s race, he was closer than he wanted to be,” trainer Uriah St Lewis said. “We knew Diversify was the horse to beat, so we tried to keep him close, but he doesn’t like that. He wants to drop back and make one run.”

Javier Castellano, who has ridden three of the 10 Charles Town Classic winners, climbs aboard Diamond King off of a Gulfstream allowance win. Todd Pletcher, who trained 2016 winner Stanford, is represented by the Grade 1-placed Rally Cry, last seen running fourth in the Woodward (G1) in September.

Navarro and Jose Corrales, the trainer of Something Awesome, will also saddle stakes winners Unbridled Juan and Nanoosh, respectively. Mongolian Groom ships in from California where he was third in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) behind Gift Box and McKinzie. Runnin’toluvya, the pride of West Virginia, steps up in class having won nine of his last 10 starts.