North Atlantic seeks revenge
Runnin’toluvya and North Atlantic have won 11 of 14 starts between them at Charles Town this year. On Saturday night they will meet for the second time in the $300,000 West Virginia Breeders Classic, the headliner on a ninestakes card that will offer $950,000 in purses.
Runnin’toluvya beat North Atlantic by a half-length in their first encounter, a statebred no-conditions allowance at seven furlongs. But the 1 1/8-mile Classic will add a third turn and could tip the scales in favor of North Atlantic, who is 6-4-2-0 at the distance. The Classic will be Runnin’toluvya’s first race beyond seven-eighths.
Runnin’toluvya will likely be favored. He is lightly raced, having missed his entire 3-year-old season in 2017, and his Beyer Speed Figures are on the way up. He also has more speed than North Atlantic and, as was the case in the August allowance, will not be easy to catch.
North Atlantic will be making his 31st start, all for his owner, trainer, and breeder, Jeff Runco. The 5-year-old missed by a nose to Charitable Annuity in a thrilling Classic a year ago. Arnaldo Bocachica, the leading rider at Charles Town, will be aboard for the 18th consecutive time.
Runnin’toluvya has gotten better for owner-trainer Tim Grams since returning from a 17-month layoff in April. He comes into the Classic off a career-best 86 Beyer in the Frank Gall Memorial. He won the Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Breeders Classic at 2 before going to the sidelines. His regular rider Oscar Flores has the mount.
The $125,000 Cavada Breeders Classic, a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares, is the most interesting race on the card. It matches the 3-yearold Late Night Pow Wow, upset winner of the Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks, against the salty 4-year-olds Moonlit Song and Anna’s Bandit.
Moonlit Song beat older rivals in the Cavada a year ago for Grams as the 3-10 favorite during an 8 for 11 campaign. Although she has not been as dominant this season – she is 8-4-4-0 – the quick daughter of Fiber Sonde is a fan favorite and sure to be well backed in the wagering.
Anna’s Bandit, who is based at Laurel Park with Jerry Robb, rallied from off the pace to beat Moonlit Song by a halflength in the Sept. 22 Sadie Hawkins. A daughter of Great Notion, Anna’s Bandit is 7 for 17 and 2 for 3 at Charles Town.
Late Night Pow Wow improved her record to seven wins from eight starts in the $300,000 Charles Town Oaks and gave trainer Javier Contreras his first graded stakes win. Like Anna’s Bandit, Late Night Pow Wow will likely rally from several lengths back.
Contreras’s second horse in the race, longshot Ghost Fever, is quick, will be stretching out from 4 1/2 furlongs, and could keep Moonlit Song busy on the lead.
◗ Aaron’s Tap, trained by Runco, will be favored in the 4 1/2-furlong Dash for Cash Breeders Classic off his 3 1/4-length victory in the Last Enchantment Stakes in September.
Unrideabull will be making his first start since last year’s Breeders Classics card. Trained by Michael Sterling, he is 3 for 4 at the distance.
◗ The seven-furlong Onion Juice Breeders Classic has a competitive field of 10 that includes 9-year-old Help a Brother, 7-year-old Follow the Notion, and 4-year-old Grumpelstiltskin.
Help a Brother won this race in 2015 and 2017, finished a close second in 2016, and a close fourth in 2014. He enters off two straight wins, both for ownertrainer Craig Lewis Jr.
◗ T Rex Express will stretch out to 1 1/8 miles in the Breeders Classic Distaff for Runco. She won her only try at the distance in November 2017. She has finished second in Breeders Classic races the past two years.
◗ The West Virginia Lottery Breeders Classic and the Division of Tourism are sevenfurlong races for 3-year-olds.
Jaxbradenrishi, who is based in Maryland with Claudio Gonzalez, is the horse to beat in the Lottery. He was hooked on the lead in the Gall Memorial last time out by Breeders Classic contender Runnin’toluvya before tiring to finish third. His top challengers are Opera Night and Owen’s Way.
B’s Wild Cork and See Ya Manana, who finished second and third to Late Night Pow Wow in the Sadie Hawkins, meet again in the Division of Tourism.
◗ The Moscarelli Breeders Classic and the Triple Crown Nutrition are 6 1/2-furlong races for 2-year-olds.
The Moscarelli will rematch the first six finishers from the 4 1/2-furlong Henry Mercer Memorial. Burnin Ring O Fire, who finished strongly to win the Mercer, should certainly appreciate the added distance.
The Triple Crown Nutrition will match six fillies who competed in the 4 1/2-furlong Rachel’s Turn Stakes. Battleground Star and Parisian Diva were both sent off at 3-2.
Battleground Star pressed the pace and went on to win by 5 1/4 lengths. Parisian Diva got up for second following a tricky inside trip from post 1 and has a right to improve – especially if the track is wet, as it was for her 7 1/4-length debut win.