While owners, trainers and fans alike are eagerly looking forward to this Friday’s Grade II, $600,000 Charles Town Classic and Grade III, $200,000 Charles Town Oaks, race goers had the chance to see several potential stars compete last weekend.
Last Saturday night’s opener was a one-turn maiden special weight dash for two-year-old colts and geldings, Uncle Funky gained command soon after the break, dueled with Social Chic through the far turn and just outlasted that one late for a nose victory for a 7-1 upset, while 4-5 favorite Pilot In Command closed willingly late to finish third, beaten just a neck.
Uncle Funky, a juvenile son of First Samurai out of the talented state-bred mare, Julie B, who earned $900,000 in her career, scored at third asking by getting the 4 1/2 furlongs in 53.59. He is trained by Javier Contreras of Late Night Pow Wow fame for owner-breeder O’Sullivan Farms, who owned and bred Julie B. Jeff Runco trainees Social Chic and Pilot In Command were second and third, respectively, in their career debuts and both should graduate in the very near future.
Then two races later in another one-turn maiden special weight dash for boys, Hopping Henry displayed ample speed and lived up to his role as the 2-5 favorite when he outlasted the late bid of 14-1 outsider Allen Can Do It for a length score. A juvenile son of Juba owned and trained by Michael Sterling, Hopping Henry garnered his diploma in his second attempt by getting the 4 1/2-furlongs in 52.70 and runner-up Allen Can Do it - another son of Juba - looms a certain future winner for trainer John A. Casey.
One race later in a two-turn allowance for fillies and mares, Lady Madison lived up to her role as the even-money choice when she swept to command down the backside then drew clear in the lane to a five-length score. A five-year-old Girolamo mare owned and trained by William Earl Atkins, Lady Madison recorded her third win in seven starts this year and now sports five wins and over $70,000 banked from 17 career tries after getting seven furlongs in 1:26.80 as the favorite.
Then one race later in a one-turn maiden special weight event for older males, River Crosroad Rvf just lived up to his billing as the 6-5 favorite when he wore down 2-1 second choice Doctor McCoy for a neck victory. A sophomore son of Fiber Sonde trained by Jeff Runco, Riveroad Crosroad Rvf recorded his first win in three career tries after getting the 6 1/2-furlongs in 1:19.74.
One night earlier the Friday opener was a one-turn maiden special weight affair for two-year-old fillies that proved to be contentious. Theladyistrue got in off the AE list and benefited from patient handling on the far turn then slipped through along the rail late to score by a length. A juvenile daughter of Fiber Sonde owned, bred and trained by John McKee, Theladyistrue closed willingly inside late to forge a 6-1 upset to earn her diploma in the third start of her career by getting the 4 1/2 furlongs in 52.20.
Then several races later in a two-turn allowance for state-bred older boys, Out of Cents rallied from just off the pace and widest of all for a three-length score as the 4-5 choice. A four-year-old Goldencents gelding trained by Jeff Runco, Out of Cents notched his third win from eight starts this year and fourth win in 12 career tries by getting the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:19.23.
This Friday Charles Town will host both the Grade II, $600,000 Charles Town Classic and the Grade III, $200,000 Charles Town Oaks, marking the first time in the track’s 87-year history that it will offer two graded stakes on the same card. Defending champion Runnin’toluvya is expected to be on hand to defend his title in the Classic, one of five open stakes on the program. The Tim Grams trainee is less than $30,000 shy of eclipsing the $1 million plateau in career earnings.
Charles Town horsemen are still mourning the loss of local conditioner Leslie Condon, who passed away last Thursday following a motorcycle accident. Condon, 49, had recorded one win from 21 starters this year and saddled 120 winners with total earnings of nearly $2.1 million in her career. Her two top trainees, Scythe and Onthestraightanarrow were also both owned and bred by her. Scythe won the 2018 edition of the West Virginia Dash For Cash and led her trainees with over $180,000 in career earnings.