By Ted Black
Spirit Sports Writer
Following a brief hiatus at the conclusion of the 2020 racing season in December, Charles Town kicked off its 2021 live racing schedule last weekend with a quartet of programs that were spared the normal ravages of winter that can occasionally wreak havoc with the proceedings at any race track.
Last Friday night marked the 39th anniversary of Gold Watch becoming the first horse to eclipse the 51-second barrier in the 4 1/2-furlong events at Charles Town and several horses displayed ample speed in a pair of one-turn maiden special weight events for three-year-olds of both genders.
In the opening race on the Friday program, a one-turn maiden special weight event for sophomore fillies, Super Wildcat (Darius Thorpe) forged a 65-1 shocker when she gained command soon after the break then held safe the late surge of first-timer Mission Trail for a head victory. A sophomore daughter of Data Link trained by Laura Carson, Super Wildcat recorded her first tally in three tries by getting the 4 1/2 furlongs in 53.94 as the longest shot on the board.
Several races later in a two-turn maiden special weight event for state-bred three-year-old males, Ishihara (Arnaldo Bocachica) just lived up to his role as the 3-5 favorite in his career debut when he rallied from mid pack to forge a neck score. A sophomore son of Creative Cause trained by Jeff Runco for owner-breeder Huntertown Farm LLC, Ishihara lived up to his advanced billing by graduating at first asking by getting the seven panels in 1:29.02.
Two races later in a one-turn maiden special weight affair for state-bred three-year-old boys, Missionsninetynine (Gerald Almodovar) forged a mild upset in his career debut when he gained command soon after the break then sprinted clear to a five-length score over 7-5 choice Entry Time. A sophomore son of Super Ninety Nine owned, bred and trained by James W. Casey, Missionsnjnetynine prevailed easily at first asking by getting the 4 1/2 furlongs in 53.05.
Then two races later in a two-turn allowance for three-year-old males, Bribery rallied from well off the pace to overhaul 4-5 choice Like Segal for a 10-1 upset. A sophomore son of Orb trained by John Carlisle, Bribery notched his second win in seven tries by getting the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:21.12. He has won both of his starts over the local strip.
Then one night earlier in the penultimate race on the Thursday card, First Lady Maggie lived up to her role as the 5-2 favorite when she surged to command on the far turn then drew clear to a four-length score. A four-year-old Sangaree filly trainer by Joan Reynolds, First Lady Maggie now owns a 4-6-5 slate and nearly $150,000 banked from 20 career tries after getting the 4 1/2 furlongs in 52.70 as the tepid choice.
Several races earlier in a one-turn allowance for state-bred boys, Bubba Grump easily lived up to his role as the 1-5 favorite when he gained command leaving the chute then widened his advantage on the far turn and drew off to a six-length score. A five-year-old son of Successful Appeal trained by Javier Contreras for owner-breeder O’Sullivan Farms, Bubba Grump recorded his second tally in three outings by getting the 4 1/2 furlongs in a rapid 52.27 as the odds-on choice.
Several races earlier in a one-turn maiden special weight event for three-year-olds, Macy’s Boy broke well to secure good early position, surged to command on the far turn then held safe the late bid of Moss Boss for a length score. A sophomore son of Mosler owned and trained by Jerry Campbell, Macy’s Boy graduated at second asking by getting the 4 1/2 furlongs in 53.22 as the 5-2 second choice.
Then one night prior in the penultimate race on the Wednesday program that officially kicked off the racing season here in 2021, Peaceful Child (Sunday Diaz, Jr.) rallied from well off the pace and widest of all to overhaul favored Sonde Of Music for a length score. A four-year-old daughter of Freedom Child trained by Mike Jones, Jr. for owner Mike Johnson, Peaceful Child notched her fourth win in 10 career tries by getting the 4 1/2 furlongs in 53.47.
Several races earlier in a two-turn allowance for state-bred older males, Cayenne Creek (Fredy Peltroche) rallied from midpack and three-wide on the far turn to overhaul Opera Nite for a length score as an overlooked 13-1 shot. A five-year-old Misremembered gelding trained by Ronney Brown for owner Kenneth Brown, Cayenne Creek now owns a 7-7-2 slate and earnings of roughly $145,000 after getting the seven panels in 1:27.18 in his seasonal debut.
Over the brief break, several talented West Virginia-bred runners tried sought to tackle open stakes foes at nearby Laurel Park. Penguin Power, two-time winner of the Onion Juice BC, finished a sharp third in the $100,000 Dave’s Friend Stakes for trainer Jeff Runco, beaten two lengths by the razor-sharp Whereshetoldmetogo. Earlier on the same card, Parisian Diva settled for sixth in the $100,000 Willa On The Move Stakes for trainer Stacey Viands, beaten six lengths by the talented , even-money choice Dontletsweetfoolyou.
Charles Town will continue to offer live racing four nights each week through April then will shift to a three-night-per week slate for the remainder of the year. The track’s stakes schedule will commence on April 17 with the Original Gold Stakes and later it will offer both the Grade II, $800,000 Charles Town Classic and Grade III, $400,000 Charles Town Oaks on August 27 followed by the 35th edition of the West Virginia Breeders Classics on Oct. 9.