In the days after West Virginia Governor Jim Justice gave Charles Town the green light to resume live racing on Thursday, May 14, trainers began making plans to have their horses ready for the return as nearly 125 runners headed to the track for published workouts last Saturday morning, including a handful of stakes winners.
When the dust settled following the crowded morning session last Saturday morning, Grace Elizabeth and Technique Only, a pair of four-year-old Great Notion fillies trained by Jeff Runco, had posted ‘bullet’ workouts of 36 seconds flat for three furlongs. Grace Elizabeth won her only start this season on February 13 before the break and now owns seven wins and nearly $120,000 banked from 13 career outings. Technique Only won her only 2020 outing on January 22 and now sports a 3-2-2 slate and $65,000 banked from 11 career tries.
Not surprisingly, Dr. Feelgood posted the fastest clocking among the 61 horses that worked a half-mile. The five-year-old gelding trained by Crystal Pickett worked four furlongs in 47.40 last Saturday morning. He has won eight of 10 career outings and banked $170,000 along the way, including a pair of 4 1/2-furlong stakes scores last season at age four and the Robert Leavitt Memorial one year earlier at age three.
A number of other talented runners also worked a solid half-mile last Saturday. Ollie Figgins III trainees Burning Ring O Fire and Nova Boy both worked four furlongs in 47.80, while unbeaten sophomore Fancy Castle worked a half in 48 flat for owner-breeder-trainer John A. Casey. Parisian Diva posted a four-furlong move of 48.40 for trainer Stacey Viands. The four-year-old filly owned and bred by Melinda Golden owns an 8-3-1 slate and over $240,000 banked from 13 career outings.
Mary’s Listed Next, a seven-year-old mare trained by Katureh Obed-Letts posted the best five-furlong drill when she was clocked in 1:01.60. B’s Wils Cork, a stakes winner for trainer James W. Casey, got five panels in 1:03.60. The Iron Bank was the only horse to post a six-furlong move, exactly once around the three-quarter mile oval, getting the distance in 1:19 flat for trainer Tim Shanley.
There were a bevy of drills posted by unraced horses with no trainer designated. Several of the horses had sharp moves, including Pearly Queen, a three-year-old filly who went 36.80 for three furlongs and a two-year-old colt named Just Nod And Smile and three-year-old colt Let’s Get Started, who both worked three panels in 37.60. West Virginia-breds Any Way Now and Lucky Penguin both worked a half-mile in 48 flat, good for sixth best of 61 runners and both had previously worked on March 11 and again on March 21 before the track was closed for training and racing.
Live racing will resume on Thursday and there will be four stakes this month, two each for males and female runners alike. On May 22 the track will offer the It’s Binn Too Long Stakes for state-bred fillies, then one night later it will host the Coin Collector for state-bred males. Then on May 29 the track will present the Original Gold for state-bred fillies and mares, followed one day later by the Confucius Say for older, state-bred males.
Even with racing shuttered at Charles Town over the past two months, horses bred in West Virginia have continued to display their talents elsewhere. In fact, last Tuesday afternoon at Fonner Park in Nebraska, King of Anything rallied from well off the pace to forge a mild 7-2 upset in a two-turn sprint for $5,000 claimers. A seven-year-old Charitable Man gelding trained by Jesse Compton, King of Anything recorded his first win from four starts this year and now owns an 8-5-7 slate and over $130,000 banked from 37 career outings.
Not surprisingly for a West Virginia-bred, King of Anything actually began his career at Charles Town and had some success in 11 tries over the strip initially. He won his second start against maiden special weight foes on October 30, 2015, then captured allowance races on April 13 and June 1, 2016 and finished third in the Coin Collector Stakes and fifth in the Robert Leavitt Memorial, which proved to be his last outing over the local oval.
Several races later on the same Tuesday card at Fonner Park, Shepherd’s Pride rallied from well off the pace and widest of all to finish second in a two-turn claiming event. An eight-year-old West Virginia-bred Charitable Man gelding, Shepherd’s Pride has now finished second four times in five starts this year and owns a 13-9-6 slate and $120,000 banked from 58 career tries. He notched his first win at Charles Town on March 19, 2015 and later recorded victories on Nov. 19, 2015 and again on March 16, 2016.