CHARLES TOWN — On a mild Saturday, Charles Town hosted the latest edition of the $1.4 million West Virginia Breeders Classics, topped by the $500,000 West Virginia Classic and the $250,000 Cavada.
Heading into the latest renewal of the West Virginia Classic,
which had previously been captured by such state-bred stars as Onion Juice, Taylor Mountain, Coin Collector, and Confucius Say one of their peers was looking to eclipse them. Russell Road had already won the event twice and he was seeking to become the first to win the event a third time.
The James W. Casey trainee was made the 4-5 favorite
in the Classic under Luis Perez, while the talented local Lucy’s Bob Boy, was sent out as the 3-1 second choice.
Soon after the gate opened, Figpenn, Allegheny Jack and Lucy’s Bob Boy all raced three across the track with Russell Road among the second flight. The pace was modest and Lucy’s Bob Boy was actually in prime position.
Lucy’s Bob Boy bided his time but when jockey Gustavo Larrosso pushed the button the sophomore responded very favorably. Lucy’s Bob Boy opened a clear lead entering the far turn and maintained a comfortable advantage.
Trained by Sandra Dono for owner Michael Furr, Lucy’s Bob Boy had no trouble with older foes or three turns.
“I had a lot of confidence in him,” Dono said. “I knew he had already beaten all of the three-year-olds, so I thought this was the chance to try him against older horses. He galloped out great in the last race and I thought he could get the distance. When he drew the 10-hole, I was really pleased. He could stay out of trouble.”
Russell Road may have settled for the place spot, but he was certainly not disgraced in defeat. He had fired a trio of “bullet” workouts in his preparations for his title defense in the Classic, but he proved no match for the winner.
One race earlier on the card in the seven-furlong Cavada for state-bred fillies and mares, named in honor of the only mare to win the Classic, Silver Heart was seeking to successfully defend her title in the lucrative event but was sent out as the second choice against the speedy Down Town Allen, whose list of local state-bred stakes is approaching several pages.
In the Cavada for fillies asnd mares, the outcome was decided not long after the gate opened. On a tight, speed-favoring oval, Down Town Allen broke well and raced just off longshot leader Belle of Camden past the wire the first time and through the clubhouse turn and the early fractions of 24.3 and 49 flat were pedestrian. In the meantime, defending champion Silver Heart raced in midpack and her late-running style would be hindered by the slow pace and the quickened surface.
In fact, when Down Town Allen overhauled Belle of Camden to take command into the far turn the race was essentially over. She sprinted clear leaving the three-sixteenths pole and then drew clear to a seven-length score, while Silver Heart edged Belle of Camden for the place spot.
Owned and trained by John A. Casey, she has now won 13 of her 26 tries at Charles Town and earned over $600,000.
“She’s a much different horse this year,” said jockey Matt McGowan. “She’s a lot more mature and she relaxes a lot easier. She did it easily tonight. When I asked her to run going into the far turn she just gave me everything she had and I still had a ton or horse left turning for home.”
Defending Cavada champion Silver Heart settled for second in her title defense for trainer Gary Capuano. Fresh off a second-place finish in the Maryland Million Distaff, Silver Heart now sports a 4-3-0 slate and $175,000 bankroll from eight starts this year and $500,000 in earnings from 32 local tries.