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CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence's Bond Vigilante is the lukewarm 7-to-2 morning line favorite in a wide-open field of 10 sophomore sprinters who will be contesting the $400,000 Researcher on Charles Town's Race for the Ribbon program coming up Saturday night.
The Researcher will be the Race 9 on the card and will immediately precede the Charles Town Oaks in an all-stakes Pick 4 sequence that starts in Race 9.
Trained by Chad Brown - who also trains Charles Town Oaks morning line favorite My Happy Face - Bond Vigilante sports three wins in his four starts and comes into the Researcher off an impressive win against New York-breds in the Claramount at Saratoga. While the Researcher marks Bond Vigilante's first start outside of restricted company, Brown believes the son of Salute the Sarge has shown enough to belong in a $400,000 race.
"We've always liked the horse and have always been high on him," Brown stated in a news release. "He's shown me that he has ability and I think he's really earned his way into a race like this based off his last couple efforts."
Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence will be looking for their second straight victory in the Researcher as they won it in 2012 with Sum of the Parts when the race carried its former name, The Red Legend. Javier Castellano will ride Bond Vigilante for the first time.
The second choice on the morning line at 4-to-1 is Our Double Play, the beaten 1.30-to-1 favorite in the Iowa Derby (G3) in his last outing. Made the favorite in the Iowa Derby after a strong performance in the Prairie Mile, Our Double Play found himself on the lead in his first graded stakes attempt, only to fold late and finish fourth, 2 ¼ lengths behind winner Looking Cool. In his last try on conventional dirt at the Researcher's seven-furlong distance, the bay colt easily won an allowance optional claiming event at Churchill Downs by 5 ¼ lengths.
Our Double Play will make his first start for trainer Philip Bauer on Saturday night after making his first nine career starts under Ken McPeek's care. Miguel Mena has the call.
The most pressing threat to the top two morning line choices may come in the form of the Charles Town-based Hidden Canyon, who has run up an impressive record while, much like Bond Vigilante, running against primarily state-bred company. Trained by Javier Contreras, the West Virginia-bred Hidden Canyon has crossed the wire first in all but one of his career starts, that coming in the Henry Mercer Memorial in September of his two-year-old season when he stumbled badly at the start and lost all chance leaving the gate.
Hidden Canyon will again have the services of jockey J.D. Acosta, who won this race in 2011 aboard J.P.'s Gusto.
Others in the field include multiple stakes winner Whiskey Romeo, who will be making his first start for trainer David Cannizzo after being claimed from Anthony Dutrow at Saratoga, the graded stakes placed duo of Heaven's Runway and Mongolian Saturday as well as Res Judicata, who is sent out by Kentucky Derby winning trainer and Charles Town native John Servis.
Completing the lineup are Do it for Don, Take it Like a Man and Emile, with Wynns Nighthawk on the also eligible list.
Post time for the Researcher is slated for 9:50 p.m. on Saturday.