Lucy’s Bob Boy aiming for lucrative ‘Classic’ payday

CHARLES TOWN – If trainer Sandra Dono had any lingering doubts about the health of Lucy’s Bob Boy’s hooves, the chestnut gelding has done a lot to lay those concerns to rest with a stunning performance in his first race in four months.

Now the question becomes whether the 5-year-old can duplicate the kind of overwhelming effort he gave Saturday night against fellow West Virginia-breds when some of the best older horses from around the country descend on his home track next month for the $1.5 million Grade 2 Charles Town Classic.

Beneath a steady rainfall, Lucy’s Bob Boy broke from the gates to gain immediate control and was never threatened while dominating a short field of five running 6 ½ furlongs in a $32,000 allowance race for state-bred horses 4-years and upward.

Under jockey Arnaldo Bocachica, the thoroughbred recently named 2013 West Virginia-bred Older Male Horse of the Year opened his 5-year-old campaign with an easy 8½-length victory, stopping the timer in 1:18.08 over a sealed, sloppy track at Charles Town.

In the Fairway, last year’s West Virginia-bred champion 3-year-old, finished second by ¾ of a length, followed by Paco Smart, Figpenn and Son of a Bear.

“I broke from the gate and he took the lead very easy,” Bocachica said. “At the quarter pole, I asked a little bit and he just took off. There was nobody close, so I just slowed him down. But I had a lot of horse to keep going.”

Lucy’s Bob Boy won seven races last year, including four stakes, but he hadn’t raced since finishing a well-beaten seventh in December in the Broad Brush Stakes at Laurel Park.

“The last couple of months we were just lightly training him,” Dono said. “His last race of the year he wound up with an abscess on his good foot. So we spent basically the past four months trying to get him back into shape.”

The winner of 17 races from 23 career starts, Lucy’s Bob Boy has earned more than $650,000, including winning the 2012 West Virginia Breeders Classic. But what amounted to a run of 11 victories in 12 starts between May 2012 and May 2013 hit a bit of a skid last summer with a fifth-place finish in July in the Grade 3 Salvatore Mile at Monmouth Park and an uncharacteristically poor ninth-place showing while trying to defend his West Virginia Breeders Classic title in October.

Immortal Eyes (No.5) edges out Fearsome for a half-length victory Thursday night in the Ides of March Handicap. His trainer, Damon Dilodovico, said Immortal Eyes will likely return to Charles Town later this month to race in the $50,000 Webb Snyder Charles Town Dash.

Immortal Eyes (No.5) edges out Fearsome for a half-length victory Thursday night in the Ides of March Handicap. His trainer, Damon Dilodovico, said Immortal Eyes will likely return to Charles Town later this month to race in the $50,000 Webb Snyder Charles Town Dash.

Lucy’s Bob Boy responded by crushing his competition in the A Huevo Stakes in November, before faltering in his penultimate start at Laurel Park.

“You see when he runs and if he doesn’t win the race it’s usually because of a foot issue,” Dono said. “We’ve got him now, I believe, the best he’s ever been feet wise. If he keeps training the way he’s going, we probably will run him in the (Charles Town) Classic.”

The $1.5 million Grade 2 Charles Town Classic anchors an April 19 racing card that also features five other stakes races. Open to horses 4-years and upward and contested at the three-turn distance of 1 1/8 miles, the Charles Town Classic has attracted some of the best older horses in the nation in recent years, including last year’s winner Game on Dude, a multiple graded stakes winner for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Game on Dude has already been committed for next month’s Charles Town Classic, the third time he will race in the event after he finished second to Duke of Mischief in 2011. Five-year-old Lea, who set the Gulfstream Park track record in February while winning the Grade 1 Donn Handicap, has also been committed to run in Charles Town’s signature event.

Lucy’s Bob Boy would be the first locally stabled horse to run in the Classic since two-time winner Researcher won consecutive runnings in 2009 and 2010 before the race earned graded stakes status in 2011.

Lucy’s Bob Boy, who is an impressive 17-of-21 in career starts at Charles Town, has won a pair of stakes races going 1 1/8 miles at the local track.

Nominations for the Charles Town Classic close later this week.

“I feel confident about it,” Dono said.

Among the other open stakes races scheduled April 19 at Charles Town are the $200,000 Sugar Maple, the $100,000 Robert Hilton Memorial and the $50,000 Webb Snyder Charles Town Dash. The $50,000 Confucius Say and $50,000 Original Gold are open to West Virginia-bred horses only.

Last Thursday, the top two finishers in last year’s running of the 4 ½ furlong Charles Town Dash prepped for a possible return to Charles Town next month by going head-to-head in the $35,000 Ides of March Handicap.

Millionaire gelding Immortal Eyes turned the tables on last year’s Dash winner Fearsome by edging ahead late to win the 4 ½ furlong sprint by a half-length.

Nine-year-old Immortal Eyes, trained by Damon Dilodovico, made his first start in five months a winning one, stopping the timer in 51.61 seconds over a track rated fast.

Ridden by Travis Dunkelberger, Immortal Eyes trailed a fast early pace set by Fearsome before steadily gaining ground racing outside around the turn and pulling ahead in deep stretch.

“He’s got a real personality and he’s as fun as they come to ride,” Dunkelberger said. “The more you do on him the madder he gets at you. You kind of have to leave him alone and hold him together and help him. You don’t ride him, you help him.”

Fearsome finished second, followed by Freudian Dilemma, Wizwit and Forastero.

Dilodovico said Immortal Eyes will likely be pointed next to the Charles Town Dash. The bay gelding has earned more than $1.1 million while winning 19-of-49 lifetime starts. Immortal Eyes is a stunning 11-of-13 with two seconds at Charles Town.

“It’s horse for course, I guess,” Dilodovico said. “I don’t know exactly what it is. Maybe he just likes the nightlife.”

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