Players adhering to the old adage "follow the money" probably cashed on Mountaineer's first feature race of the season Saturday night. If nearly 300k in career earnings weren't reason enough to back Charlestown-based Judge Carr, then an opening salvo in the win-pool that plummeted the eventual coin-flip favorite to a cinchy 1/9 certainly drew attention. In addition, renowned owner Robert Cole Jr, had just shelled out 30k-a lofty sum at Judge Carr's beleaguered home-track-to claim the 7-year-old Mizzen Mast gelding.
Judge Carr's 2 3/4 length win in the "Welcome Back Dash," a five-furlong affair written as an NC allowance and seeded with a purse exceeding 22k, however, was not without an anxious moment when the Kevin Patterson charge stumbled badly at the break. Those concerned that a sharp reduction in distance-Judge Carr's form is comprised predominately of long two-turn sprints-might leave the chalk with too much ground to make up had those fears quickly assuaged as the versatile chestnut angled four- wide from his two-post, accelerated boldly, and then collared an outclassed pace to draw off.
Judge Carr stopped the clock in 58.92 over a somewhat quick surface that played against early speed and inside trips.
Fellow Charles Town shipper Help a Brother, like Judge Carr a multiple winner over Mountaineer's main oval, raced sluggish as second favorite, but was up narrowly for place money in his initial start of the year.
The team of Cole and Patterson have preyed successfully in seasons past on Mountaineer's upper-end purses with rapid stock such as Uncle Todd and Roman Officer.
Gerald Almodovar shipped in for the winning mount.
Some 700k was bet on Mountaineer's first program of 2017, with a live crowd of nearly 6,000.