Lake Ponchatrain winning the Pink Ribbon Stakes at Charles Town - Coady Photography

Lake Ponchatrain winning the Pink Ribbon Stakes at Charles Town – Coady Photography

If you’re planning to watch and wager on the $1 million Charles Town Classic (G2) Saturday at Charles Town, I strongly recommend you tune in early to catch the numerous stakes races earlier on the card.

Eight stakes races (the first at 2:17 p.m. ET) are scheduled for the afternoon, and they’re arranged in consecutively, without a single allowance or claiming race stuck in between. The eight-race sequence includes two Pick 4s plus rolling Pick 3s, offering plenty of options for bettors keen to play multi-race wagers.

Let’s take a $100 budget and play the card with an emphasis on the Pick 4s:

Race 5: Coin Collector Stakes

#8 Burning Ring O Fire is a two-time stakes winner at Charles Town, but he’ll be facing some solid up-and-comers here, including #5 Best Shot (a 5 1/4-length maiden winner over this track and distance) and #2 Vic’s Pick (victorious in three of his four starts at Charles Town). Even #1 Cayenne Creek can’t be counted out—he’s cutting back in distance and dropping into age-restricted, state-bred company following a fourth-place finish in an open allowance race against older horses.

$1.50 Pick 4: 1,2,5,8 with 8 with 4,7 with 2,3 ($24)

Race 6: Original Gold Stakes

#8 Anna’s Bandit might not have as much experience at Charles Town as her six rivals in this seven-furlong sprint, but she has recorded two wins over the track and boasts a huge advantage in terms of recent BRIS speed figures. Anna’s Bandit is versatile, talented, and in great form at the moment, with two straight wins at Laurel Park to kick off the season. She looms as a logical single.

$1 Pick 3: 8 with 4,7 with 2,3 ($4)

Race 7: Confucius Say Stakes

Several of these runners are infrequent winners, but you can’t say that about #4 Aaron’s Tap (who is 10-for-18 at Charles Town) and #7 North Atlantic (who is 14-for-32 at Charles Town, with 29 top-three finishes). They’re both fast, proven stakes winners hailing from the barn of Charles Town’s leading trainer Jeff Cunco. I don’t see any reason to look past these two for the purpose of multi-race wagers.

$1 Pick 3: 4,7 with 2,3 with 2,5,7 ($12)

Race 8: Robert Hilton Memorial Stakes

#3 Malpais fired off a 101 BRIS speed figure to win a six-furlong allowance race at Fair Grounds by 5 3/4 lengths last month, but there’s no shortage of speed here, and Todd Pletcher’s #2 Federal Case could be one to capitalize after rallying to finish second in the Hutcheson Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park. They seem like the classiest choices in this field of lightly raced 3-year-olds.

$1 Pick 3: 2,3 with 2,5,7 with 6 ($6)

Race 9: Russell Road Stakes

This race is challenging, because the majority of the nine entrants have no experience at Charles Town. One exception is #2 Cool Arrow, who won the Robert Hilton over this track and distance last year. He recently returned from a layoff to win a one-mile allowance at Oaklawn Park and should be competitive here, though the consistent #5 Line Judge brings good form from the bullring track at Delta Downs, and former claimer #7 Wildwood Dancer has been on a roll for high-percentage trainer Jorge Navarro.

$2 Pick 4: 2,5,7 with 6 with 8,9,10 with 5 ($18)
$1 Pick 4: 2,5,7 with 3,5,7 with 8,9,10 with 5 ($18)

Race 10: Dance to Bristol Stakes

The veteran #6 Lake Ponchatrain won this race last year and boasts a 12-for-23 record at Charles Town. Considering how easily she won the Dance to Bristol Overnight Prep Stakes at Charles Town last month, she’ll have every chance to prevail again Saturday. But Lake Ponchatrain is 7 years old now, and this is a competitive spot, so it might be worth adding backup tickets with #5 Tweeting (who cuts back in distance off a series of races at Gulfstream), #7 Timeless Curls (a consistent stakes winner shipping in from Laurel for high-percentage connections) and #3 Inspeightof (who is 4-for-5 sprinting at Delta Downs, a track similar in size and shape to Charles Town).

$3 Pick 3: 6 with 8,9,10 with 5 ($9)
$1 Pick 3: 3,5,7 with 8,9,10 with 5 ($9)

Race 11: Charles Town Classic

As I mentioned in my separate preview of the Charles Town Classic, outside runners tend to have an advantage in this 1 1/8-mile race. Since the three horses I like best anyway (#8 Runnin’toluvya, #9 War Story and #10 Unbridled Juan) have drawn the three outside post positions, I’ll use all three in the multi-race wagers.

Race 12: Its Binn Too Long Stakes

The lightly-raced #5 Parisian Diva has an edge in BRIS speed figures and hasn’t missed the trifecta in five starts, all at Charles Town. That includes an easy maiden win going 4 1/2 furlongs, the same distance as the Its Binn Too Long, so I’ll be inclined to single her here at a short price.

Good luck!