This Saturday night Charles Town will host the 35th edition of the $1 million West Virginia Breeders Classics, and the nine-race card is likely to have a familiar theme surrounding a prolific trainer-jockey combination.
Trainer Jeff Runco and jockey Arnaldo Bocachica are certainly no strangers to success on WVBC night and that tandem, along with owner David Raim, could be poised for an exceptional evening this weekend.
Runco will likely saddle the post time favorite in four of the nine stakes, including both the Classic and the Cavada, and he could also score in two other stakes. Maud’dib, the unbeaten full-brother to Late Night Pow Wow, will be the solid favorite in the Classic for Runco and Raim and will have Bocachica aboard.
Winner of the $75,000 Frank Gall Memorial Stakes in his most recent outing, Maud’dib has won all four of his starts this year and is perfect in seven lifetime tries overall and he prevailed in the Gall in his stakes debut despite encountering trouble soon after the break.
Star of Night, the reigning West Virginia-bred horse of the year trained by Runco for owner Huntertown Farms, will be the odds-on favorite in the Cavada although Bridging the Gap will head into that event as the defending champion. Star of Night has won all three of her starts this year and nine of 11 outings overall and she bested Bridging the Gap in the $75,000 Sadie Hawkins Stakes in August.
Runco has already unveiled several very talented two-year-olds and one of them, Run to Daylight, will be the odds-on choice in the Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Stakes this weekend while attempting to navigate two turns for the first time. A freshman son of Runhappy owned by Raim, Run to Daylight easily prevailed in the $75,000 Henry Mercer Memorial Stakes in his most recent outing and he has won both of his starts going 4½-furlongs. But his Mercer tally perhaps indicated that the second turn and added quarter-mile will not be difficult.
Runco will also saddle Penguin Power for the Onion Juice where he will arrive as the two-time defending champion of that event and tepid choice.
Penguin Power has yet to hit the board in four starts this year, but his dominance in the Onion Juice in recent years will certainly make him formidable in that spot. He faded after setting the fractions in the Gall where Runco trainees Maud’dib and North Atlantic finished one-two in their final preps for the Classic.
Of course, Runco will not likely saddle all nine winners on Saturday evening and several other talented runners loom likely odds-on favorites. Fancy Her Up, razor sharp winner of the $75,000 Rachel’s Turn Stakes here last month for owner-breeder-trainer John A. Casey, will be the solid favorite in the Triple Crown Nutrition BC in her first try going two turns and 6½-furlongs.
Hypothesis, gritty winner of the $40,000 Last Enchantment Stakes for trainer Crystal Pickett, will be the lukewarm favorite in the WV Dash For Cash.