Charlie May has enjoyed a good amount of success at Eldorado Scioto Downs during his career and breeder/owner Don Tiger hopes that equates to a homefield advantage Saturday when Ohio’s 2021 Horse of the Year meets six foes in the $200,000 Jim Ewart Memorial for older male pacers.
Over a span of 12 lifetime Scioto starts, Charlie May has posted 11 top-three finishes, with eight wins, two seconds and a third. He won the 2020 Ohio Sire Stakes (OHSS) championship there as a two-year-old with a track-record performance and heads to the Ewart off another OHSS title at the five-eighths-mile oval, this time in the final for older male pacers.
Charlie May will start the Ewart from post five with Brett Miller, Scioto’s leading driver, in the sulky for trainer Steve Carter. He is the 2-1 morning-line second choice behind Allywag Hanover, the 2021 Dan Patch Award recipient for best older male pacer, at 7-5.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Tiger. “It’s a seven-horse field going for $200,000 right in our backyard; you have to be pretty happy about that. I think that we have a little bit of an advantage just because it’s our home track. It’s only 15-20 minutes to ship there and we’ve won a lot of races over that oval.
“But it’s a nice field. Allywag Hanover is a super nice horse and there are some other nice horses in there. It should be a great race.”
Last week at Scioto, Charlie May won the OHSS championship over a sloppy track in 1:50.1. Leaving from post five, the gelding was parked out in a :26.2 opening quarter before getting the lead on his way to hitting the half in :54.4. He fended off a challenge on the backstretch and then kept Gold Digger King at bay in the stretch to triumph by a half-length.
“He beat the bias that day; the front end was awful,” said Tiger. “It’s the only place we didn’t want to be, but Brett got stuck and had to go forward. When we got to the quarter in :26 and half in :54, I just put my head down and thought this is awful. But he just gamed it out. It was a better effort than it looks on paper.”
Charlie May’s workmanlike demeanor is what Tiger most appreciates about his homebred.
“I admire that lunch-pail mentality,” said Tiger. “I was born and raised in the era of the steel mills in Pittsburgh. I remember my dad and his friends, they were lunch-pail guys. Every day – good, bad, indifferent – they showed up for work. I think that’s Charlie. He always shows up and does what he can do. He’s a pretty cool horse.”
Charlie May, a son of McArdle out of Stipple Hanover, is the first horse Tiger ever bred. This season, he has hit the board in 10 of 13 races, winning five. For his career, he has won 22 of 44 starts, finished second 11 times and earned $1.43 million. His top victories include the Carl Milstein Memorial and Matron Stakes, both in 2021.
“It’s fun,” said Tiger. “I’m a blessed man. It’s all still pretty surreal.”
Ewart Memorial morning-line favourite Allywag Hanover brings a four-race win streak to the event. This past Sunday, he won the #SendItIn Invitational at Harrah’s Philadelphia in 1:47.3, equalling the fastest mile ever at the track as well as matching the world record for a gelding pacer older than age four on a five-eighths oval.
The Ewart Memorial honours Jim Ewart, who was the race secretary at Scioto Downs from 1976 through 2002. He passed away in 2012.
Racing begins at 3:15 p.m. (EDT) at Scioto Downs. For free TrackMaster programs, visiting the track’s website.
After Delayed Debut, Winning Ticket Set For Hill
Winning Ticket, who won 11 of 12 races last season and was named Ohio’s best three-year-old male trotter, saw the start of his 2022 campaign delayed because of suspensory injury, but returns to the Grand Circuit for Saturday’s $200,000 Charlie Hill Memorial for older trotters.
Trained by co-owner Chris Beaver, Winning Ticket made his first start of the season in last week’s Ohio Sire Stakes championship for older male trotters at Scioto Downs. He started from post eight, was a three-wide ninth at three-quarters and finished sixth despite a race-best :27.4 final quarter-mile.
“He didn’t draw very good and got a rough trip, but I thought he raced well,” said Beaver.
Winning Ticket will start the Hill Memorial from post six with Aaron Merriman in the sulky. He is 5-1 on the morning line. Cuatro De Julio, who won the Sebastian K Invitational at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in his most recent start, is the 2-1 favourite. He will leave from post four with Yannick Gingras driving for trainer Marie Ortolan Bar.
Last year, Winning Ticket won his first 10 starts, including the Ohio Sire Stakes final, before a third-place finish from post 10 in the Canadian Trotting Classic at Woodbine Mohawk Park. He closed his campaign with a victory in a division of the Ohio Breeders Championship.
“He may not have a ton of starts this year, so I’m hoping he has some good luck and picks up a good cheque somewhere along the line,” said Beaver. “He’s eligible to four or five stakes late in the year. We’ll see if it works out.
“He seems pretty good right now. Anything can happen. He was always a good-sized horse, but he definitely filled out some more this year. He’s a strong horse.”
The Hill Memorial honours Hall of Fame track executive Charles Hill, the founder of Scioto Downs. He passed away in 1991.