A head is all that separates Adios Charlie from being undefeated this season. On July 2, the improving 3-year-old colt will be one of the favorites to take the Grade 2, $150,000 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park, as he will meet six sophomore rivals in the 1 1/16-mile race.
Adios Charlie will carry top weight of 121 pounds in the Dwyer, which is the co-feature on a Belmont card that also includes the Grade 2, $300,000 Suburban Handicap.
Also expected to vie for favoritism in the Dwyer is Dominus, a tough-luck runner-up in The Cliff's Edge Derby Trial Stakes (Grade 3) last out.
Co-owned and trained by Stanley Hough, Adios Charlie broke his maiden in his seasonal debut by nearly seven lengths March 30 at Gulfstream Park. He followed up by scoring the Grade 2 Jerome Stakes in his stakes debut April 23 at Aqueduct, where he defeated Astrology and eventual Woody Stephens Stakes (Grade 2) winner Justin Phillip. The Indian Charlie colt was caught by Alternation in the late stages of the May 14 Peter Pan Stakes (Grade 2) when sent off as the favorite.
Though he did not make any of the Triple Crown races, Hough is happy about the way the season has played out for Adios Charlie so far. He was pegged as the 6-5 morning-line favorite.
"As the Triple Crown races unfolded, it might have been nice to be involved, but everything has worked out for this horse," said Hough. "I think the way it unfolded, I couldn't be any happier. There are a lot of races for 3-year-olds, and a lot of choices, and I really like the way he is coming into this race."
Bred in Florida by Brylynn Farm, Adios Charlie is out of the Northern Afleet mare Teak Totem. He is 2-2-0 from four starts with earnings of $174,040. Regular rider Rajiv Maragh will have the mount and they will break from the outside post.
Stonestreet Stables, George Bolton, and Spendthrift Farm's Dominus is another lightly raced colt rounding into form. The Steve Asmussen trainee was beaten a neck by Machen in the April 30 Derby Trial after having a lead for nearly all of one-mile race at Churchill Downs. The Smart Strike ridgling, a romping maiden winner in his second start at Santa Anita in March, shipped to Belmont from Churchill June 29.
Julien Leparoux comes in to ride Dominus, the 2-1 morning line second choice. Asmussen won this race in 2009 with Kensei.
Shipping in from the Delaware Park for Tony Dutrow is Tech Fall, who will be making his stakes debut in the Dwyer after compiling a 2-2-0 record from four starts. A maiden winner at Delaware last October, the Birdstone colt was second as the favorite to eventual Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes winner J J's Lucky Train to close out his 2010 campaign.
After a setback early in the year which knocked him off the Triple Crown trail, Tech Fall won a one-mile, 70-yard allowance at Delaware April 30 and finished second in a one-mile optional claimer at Parx Racing May 30.
"Being by Birdstone, I think he needs more ground than he's had the opportunity for so far," said Dutrow, who trains Tech Fall for Michael Dubb. "This is a lightly raced horse and he's improving. He still has a lot to prove, but we are hoping he will be a nice summertime 3-year-old, and that this race could lead to a two-turn, 1 1/8 mile race at Saratoga."
Ramon Dominguez rides Tech Fall, 10-1 on the morning line.
Also making his stakes debut in the Dwyer is the late-running Cool Blue Red Hot, another whose connections shelved their Triple Crown aspirations early in the year after a pair of disappointing efforts at Gulfstream Park. Returning from a brief freshening in April, Cool Blue Red Hot was beaten a half-length in an optional claimer and then won a 1 1/16-mile allowance on May 19, both at Belmont Park.
"I don't regret a thing that we did," said trainer Angel Penna Jr., who trains the Harlan's Holiday colt for Jim Bakke. "In February this horse was still a maiden winner. That's when you start looking at the second half of the year. He wasn't ready for that type of competition in the spring; maybe now he will be."
Also entered for the Dwyer are Malibu Glow, who broke his maiden over a muddy Belmont track May 5; Harlan's Hello, most recently fourth in the Grade 3 Pegasus at Monmouth Park June 18; and the supplemented Rocking Out.