Special to the Spirit
While the West Virginia Classic and the Cavada took center stage on the West Virginia Breeders Classics card last weekend, there were several impressive efforts among the other seven stakes winners on the card. There were also some notable horses who failed to deliver on their expected promises.
In the opening race on the card, Greenway Court lived up to his billing as the 3-5 favorite in the one-turn West Virginia Dash For Cash for older, state-bred runners. Owned, bred and trained by James W. Casey, Greenway Court gained command soon after the break and then held safe 6-5 second choice Paco Smart for a two-length score in 51.51 for the 4 1/2 furlongs. The four-year-old Windsor Castle gelding has won two straight stakes, four of seven outings this year and now boasts eight wins in 17 career outings with over $200,000 banked.
One race later on the card, Amherst Street capped a very formful daily double when he led throughout to capture the two-turn Vincent Moscarelli Memorial for two-year-old colts and geldings. A juvenile son of Luftikus trained by Javier Contreras for owner Phyllis Sussini, Amherst Street has won all three of his starts and banked over $75,000 and gave jockey Antonio Lopez an early sweep of the daily double.
In the very next race on the program, Hidden Canyon easily lived up to his billing as the 1-9 favorite in the West Virginia Lottery when he gained command soon after the break and cruised home five lengths clear in 1:26.07 for the seven panels. Trained by Contreras for Sussini, Hidden Canyon has won five of six starts this year and six of eight career outings and earned over $140,000 along the way. He also attracted nearly $300,000 in show wagers from those bridgejumpers looking to make a quick 10 percent return on their investment.
The chalkfest, however, came to an abrupt halt in the next event. Jax And Jill had bypassed another chance at upending Down Town Allen in the Cavada — that mare was eventually scratched out of that event — when she opted for the seven-furlong West Virginia Division of Tourism. Onlookers sent the Scott Lake trainee postward as the 1-5 favorite, but the Robert Cole, Jr. homebred wilted after setting the early fractions and failed to garner even minor spoils.
After biding her time early, Blisstikus rallied from midpack and prevailed as the 6-1 second choice in 1:27.69. Owned, bred and trained by James W. Casey, Blisstikus now sports a 4-5-1 slate and $110,000 bankroll from 10 starts this year. Dimples, in her first start over the strip after competing in Florida, New York, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, gained the place spot. Margaret High, owned and bred by Ed Krishak who would later win the Classic with Fred High, earned the show money.
Longshots had no chance in the next race, however, as In The Fairway prevailed in the Onion Juice as the 2-5 favorite by covering the seven panels in 1:27.29. A three-year-old Posse colt trained by Jeff Runco and owned and bred by his Coleswood Farm, In The Fairway notched his fourth win in nine starts this year and pushed his seasonal earnings toward $120,000 thanks to his second stakes tally.
The formful night continued in the very next event as Red Hot Diva displayed her fondness for the three-turn distance here when she captured the nine-furlong West Virginia Breeders Classic Distaff by two lengths in 1:56.53. Trained by Ollie Figgins, III, for owner-breeder Naomi Long, Red Hot Diva notched her third straight win and fourth victory in nine starts overall this year. Figgins will saddle Dance to Bristol in the Breeders Cup Filly-Mare Sprint this Saturday afternoon at Santa Anita.
Then in the finale of the nine-race card, Henny’s Princess posted the biggest of the night when she led throughout to post a 14-1 upset in the Triple Crown Feed for two-year-old fillies. Trained by former Charles Town jockey Katurah Obed-Letts. Henny’s Princess notched her second win from seven starts this year for owner-breeder James Miller, giving Obed-Letts her first Breeders Classics victory as a trainer and jockey.
Earlier that afternoon at Laurel Park, Pocket Gift finished third as the 6-1 third choice in the $100,000 Maryland Million Lassie for two-year-old fillies. A juvenile daughter of Great Notion trained by Darrin Miller for owner-breeder Silverton Hill Farm, Pocket Gift was bred in West Virginia and perhaps someday will make her Charles Town debut. Her four starts thus far have been at Arlington Park, Indiana Downs, Kentucky Downs and then at Laurel Park.