On the under card of the Grade II Charles Town Classic and Grade III Charles Town Oaks last Friday, Charles Town also offered a host of stakes races for various age groups for West Virginia-bred events designed as preps for the upcoming West Virginia Breeders Classics card here in October. When the dust settled, it was apparent one trainer-jockey tandem held the upper hand.
In the first of the four stakes for West Virginia-breds looking to prep for the WVBC card this fall, Star of Night (Arnaldo Bocachica) lived up to her billing as the 1-5 favorite in the $75,000 Sadie Hawkins Stakes for fillies and mares when she edged past Bridging the Gap in the lane for nearly a length score. A four-year-old daughter of Creative Cause trained by Jeff Runco for owner Huntertown Farm, Star of Night remained perfect in three starts this year and now owns nine wins and $240,000 banked from 11 lifetime outings.
“She came into the race super and she ran the way she was supposed to run,” Runco said of Star of Night, the reigning West Virginia-bred horse of the year. “She broke a step slow but ‘Boca’ hustled her along to stay close to the pace, especially the way the track is playing. We’ll try to keep her happy for the next couple of months or so.”
Then two races later in the latest edition of the $75,000 Robert Leavitt Memorial for state-bred three-year-olds, Social Chic (Bocachica) benefited from his inside draw and lived up to his role as the 6-5 favorite by shaking loose from early pressure then edging clear in the lane to a three-length score. A sophomore son of Upstart trained by Runco for owner Smart Angle, Social Chic recorded his third win in five starts this year and now owns a 5-3-0 slate and $140,000 banked from 10 career tries after getting the seven furlongs in 1:24.61.
One race later in the $75,000 Sylvia Bishop Memorial for state-bred three-year-old fillies, Door Buster (Denis Araujo) lived up to her role as the 4-5 favorite when she bided her time through the early stages then found room turning for home and edged clear late to a two-length score. A sophomore daughter of Speightster trained by Ollie Figgins III of Dance to Bristol fame for owner Jay Reese, Door Buster notched her second stakes tally of the season and now owns four wins and $160,000 banked from 10 lifetime outings after getting the seven panels in 1:27.38.
Then several races later and immediately after the Charles Town Classic, Maud’dib (Bocachica) overcame a difficult beginning to rally from well off the pace to remain undefeated in seven lifetime starts by outlasting the late surge of stablemate North Atlantic for a neck score. A four-year-old son of Fiber Sonde and the full-brother to the immensely talented Late Night Pow Wow, Maud’dib displayed plenty of grit while prevailing in his stakes debut by getting the seven panels in 1:25.16 as the tepid 2-1 favorite in a genuinely loaded field of state-bred males.
Also on the under card, trainer Jeff Runco and jockey Arnaldo Bocachica combined to win four straight races at one stretch and eventually five overall, including three stakes and a one-turn allowance dash for older males with Aaron’s Tap. A durable, seven-year-old Northern Afleet gelding trained by Runco for owner Smart Angle, Aaron’s Tap recorded his first win in seven starts this year and now owns a 15-8-4 slate and over $380,000 banked from 38 career tries after getting the 4 1/2-furlongs in a snappy 51.28 as the 5-1 third choice.
Note: Last Saturday afternoon at Del Mar Rockefeller (Abel Cedillo) gained command soon after the break and led throughout to capture a six-furlong maiden special weight event for two-year-old colts and geldings. A juvenile son of Medaglia D’Oro, Rockefeller is out of Dance to Bristol, the supremely talented Figgins trainee who won 10 of 20 starts and earned nearly $1 million, highlighted by a victory in the Grade I Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga. Rockefeller, a $750,000 yearling purchase, scored at fist asking by getting the six panels in 1:11.18 for Baffert and multiple owners and looks destined to earn graded stakes status at some point.