Over the past two weekends, owners, trainers and breeders of various state-bred two-year-olds have watched their respective juvenile runners get much needed experience prior to this weekend’s first two stakes on the calendar for West Virginia-bred freshmen, the Rachel’s Turn for fillies and the Henry Mercer for the boys.
Last Friday night in a one-turn maiden special weight event for state-bred fillies and mares that kicked off the card, Snowy Juba Cat (Carlos Marrero) forged a 21-1 shocker when she gained command soon after the break then drew off in the lane to a six-length score in her career debut. A sophomore daughter of Juba trained by Curtis Bass for owner Tamara Bass, Snowy Juba Cat romped at first asking despite her longshot status by getting the 4 1/2-furlongs in 53.14.
Then one race later in a one-turn maiden special weight dash for boys, Chasing Anna (Wesley Ho) posted a mild upset when he gained command before a 22 second opener then edged clear late to a two-length score as the 3-1 second choice. A four-year-old Fast Anna gelding owned and trained by Chris Keller, Chasing Anna graduated in his second start this year and ninth overall by getting the 4 1/2-furlongs in 52.56.
Two races later in a one-turn maiden special weight dash for two-year-old boys, Agent Stone (Fredy Peltroche) just lived up to his role as the 6-5 favorite when he rallied late for a neck score. A juvenile son of Fed Biz trained by Greg Viands for owner Roland Becraft, Jr., Agent Stone earned his diploma in his fourth career outing by getting the 4 1/2-furlongs in 54.07 as the solid choice.
One night earlier at the midway point of the Thursday card, Cedar Runs Castle easily lived up to his role as the 1-9 favorite when he gained command leaving the chute then romped home nine lengths clear in a one-turn maiden special weight event for older males. A sophomore son of Windsor Castle trained by Kevin Patterson, Cedar Runs Castle notched his first win in four career outings by getting the 4 1/2-furlongs in 53.24.
Then two nights earlier in the Wednesday opener, Hannahs Red Ruby (Victor Rodriguez) lived up to her billing as the 3-5 favorite in a one-turn maiden special weight event for two-year-old fillies when she gained command leaving the chute then edged clear late to a three-length score. A Maryland-bred juvenile daughter of Bullsbay owned and trained by Michael Sterling, Hannahs Red Ruby collected her diploma in her fourth attempt by getting the 4 1/2-furlongs in 53 flat.
Two races later in another one-turn maiden special weight dash for two-year-old fillies, Music Mandate (Javier Rivera) also lived to her role as the 3-5 choice when she easily gained command leaving the chute then held sway late for a two-length score. A Maryland-bred juvenile daughter of Strong Mandate trained by John Carlisle for owner Matthew Schera, Music Mandate graduated in her second try by getting the 4 1/2-furlongs in 53.29.
One week prior on the Saturday card, Talking Teddy (Javier Rivera) shed his early bridesmaid status when he surged to command at the head of the lane then outlasted the late surge of 4-5 favorite Amidships for a neck victory. A juvenile son of Medalist owned, bred and trained by former local jockey Keturah Obed-Letts, Talking Teddy notched his first win from four tries after finishing second in each of his three outings by getting the 4 1/2-furlongs in 53.38 as the 2-1 second choice.
Then one night earlier on the Friday card, La Cubana forged a mild upset as the 5-2 second choice when she gained command soon after the break and led throughout for a three-length score in a one-turn maiden special weight event for state-bred two-year-old fillies. A juvenile daughter of Garnered trained by Victor Espinosa of Noble’s Honey fame, La Cubana prevailed in her third career try by getting the 4 1/2-furlongs in 54.67.
Two races earlier in another one-turn maiden special weight event for state-bred freshmen fillies, The Sky Is Falling (Arnaldo Bocachica) overcame a slow start, rallied inside down the backside and through the far turn then angled outside rivals turning for home and got up late for a neck score as the 2-5 favorite in her career debut. A freshman daughter of Cupid trained by Jeff Runco for owner David Raim, The Sky Is Falling lived up to her billing as the odds-on choice at first asking by getting the 4 1/2-furlongs in 53.59.
One night earlier on the Thursday card, Grace Elizabeth (Bocachica) rallied from midpack and three-wide on the far turn to forge a three-length victory as the 6-5 favorite in a two-turn allowance for state-bred fillies and mares. A five-year-old daughter of Great Notion trained by Jeff Runco for the Tri-State Stable, Grace Elizabeth notched her first win in four starts this year and now boasts eight wins and over $165,000 banked from 22 career tries after getting the seven panels in 1:26.65.
Two races later on the Thursday card in a two-turn allowance for state-bred boys, Westbury Estates (Denis Araujo) overhailed 4-5 choice Freedom Rider in the lane and drew clear late to a three-length score for a 19-1 surprise. A four-year-old Real Estate gelding trained by Michael Atkins, Westbury Estates recorded his second win from eight career tries by getting the seven furlongs in 1:26.92 as the third longest price in the field.