There’s Math Wizard, Multiplier, Tenfold and Mr. Money, which makes Friday’s Grade 2 Charles Town Classic sound like either fifth-period math or an exercise in numbers. In their cases, it’s also an exercise in finding a heretofore elusive path to the winner’s circle.

Math Wizard Charles Town Classic
Math Wizard, seen here winning the Pennsylvania Derby last year, is the only Grade 1 winner in Friday’s Charles Town Classic Field. As the 3/1 favorite, he seeks his first victory since last September’s Penn Derby. (Image: Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

And in all but Multiplier’s case, the career earnings add up to seven figures. Throw in Plus Que Parfait, Mo Don’t No and War Story and you’ve got six millionaires. This makes the richest race on the West Virginia track’s schedule one of the most competitive and intriguing of the weekend. The overflow, 10-horse field (one also-eligible) tangles on Charles Town’s bullring-style, three-turn 1 1/8 mile test as the marquee event on a seven-stakes, $1.25 million card.

Held for 4-year-olds and up, the Charles Town Classic moved from April to August due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This proves fortuitous for bettors, because it drops into a mandatory pick-six payout that features a modest 12% takeout.

Charles Town Classic

Morning Line (Jockey)

  1. Forewarned, 12/1 (Sunday Diaz Jr.)
  2. Tenfold, 5/1 (Luis Batista)
  3. Mo Don’t No, 15/1 (Wesley Ho)
  4. Math Wizard 3/1 (Christian Hiraldo)
  5. Running’toluvya, 12/1 (Joe Bravo)
  6. Money, 6/1 (Gerald Almodovar)
  7. Sleepy Eyes Todd, 7/2 (Carlos Delgado)
  8. Plus Que Parfait, 15/1 (Reshawn Latchman)
  9. War Story, 4/1 (J.D. Acosta)
  10. Multiplier, 9/2 (Arnaldo Bocachica)
  11. Awesome D.J., 15/1 (Fredy Peltrouche) (AE)

That adds up to what is a decent field of familiar horses – many of whom come in searching for the form they left back in 2019. Chief among those is 3/1 favorite Math Wizard, the lone Grade 1 winner in the field. Last year’s Pennsylvania Derby winner at 31/1, Math Wizard epitomized the 2020 struggles ripe among this field.

Did Math Wizard Solve his Recent Puzzles Last Time Out?

He finished fifth at the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a poor eighth at the Razorback Classic at Oaklawn Park, and a mediocre fifth in a Gulfstream allowance. Just when Math Wizard’s chances stopped adding up, he came back on Haskell Saturday at Monmouth Park with his best race in nearly a year. The Saffie Joseph Jr.-charge finished a solid second to Global Campaign in the Monmouth Cup, turning in a 100 Beyer Speed Figure that is the best last-out Beyer of anyone in the field.

“He ran one of the best races in his life last time out, according to the numbers, and he’s been training great coming out of it,” Joseph told Charles Town’s media relations staff. “I think he’s going to continue to progress and take another step forward on Friday.”

Seeking a step ahead of Math Wizard is War Story (4/1). The 8-year-old gelding and winner of three graded stakes races – along with $3.2 million – makes his record-tying fourth Charles Town Classic start. He finished third in 2017 and last year ,and second in 2018.

Mr. Money, Tenfold Wasting Opportunities to Cash

Also seeking that return to form are two horses that may ring bells: Mr. Money (6/1) and Tenfold (5/1). Both find 2020 far more difficult than they found 2019. In Mr. Money’s case, he won four Grade 3s as a 3-year-old, including the West Virginia Derby, then got caught at the wire by Math Wizard in the Pennsylvania Derby.

That prompted a four-race slide in which Mr. Money hasn’t finished in the money. His best finish in that span is a fourth at the Blame Stakes at Churchill Downs. Last out, Mr. Money placed sixth in a Keeneland allowance in July.

“He had a great year last year and has had a rocky start to this year, but it’s not really his doing,” trainer Bret Calhoun said. “He caught a sloppy track that he didn’t like at Oaklawn (in April’s Oaklawn Stakes). I thought he ran a pretty good race in the Blame at Churchill with a really wide trip. Then, we got stuck without a spot with so many races getting canceled. So we ran him in that race at Keeneland and 6 ½ furlongs is not his deal. So it really hasn’t been his fault.”

Tenfold’s Class Can Shine Through

Tenfold (5/1) was a former Triple Crown trail contender who finished third in the 2018 Preakness and fifth in the Belmont — both to Triple Crown winner Justify. The Steve Asmussen-trainee hasn’t won a race in 15 months, a span of eight races dating to the 2019 Grade 3 Pimlico Special.

But Tenfold did finish a solid third at June’s Hollywood Gold Cup at Santa Anita, and all but one of those races since that victory were graded stakes.

Awaiting all of those is hometown product and defending champion Runnin’toluvya, another horse wondering where his 2019 form went. Last year, the 6-year-old gelding won eight consecutive races at Charles Town. But when the calendar flipped, Runnin’toluvya’s form flipped with it. He dropped four of his last five races and hasn’t raced since May 30.

Hometown Hero Hopes for Million-Dollar Club Membership

That sends him into the Charles Town Classic on the cusp of $1 million in earnings ($973,403). It also sends him into his fifth race coming out of at least a 90-day layoff. Running’toluvya’s record in those three? Three wins and a second.

“It’s going to be a tough race, but we’re going in without hesitation because of how well he’s doing,” trainer Tim Grams said. “It was an unfortunate trip last time out. You know, it’s hard even for the really good ones to have to start and stop three or four times like he did.”

The pick: Tenfold. Good price, good class and good late speed that Math Wizard doesn’t have. He breaks his schnide while keeping his victory-starved counterparts on theirs.