From a Charles Town release
Lucy’s Bob Boy looks to add a second win in the $500,000 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic and avenge his ninth place finish as the odds on 3-to-5 favorite in last year’s event as he takes on a field of nine others in the featured race on Saturday night’s West Virginia Breeders’ Classics XXVIII card at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. The $500,000 Breeders’ Classic stands as the most lucrative state-bred race in the country and serves as the centerpiece for an all-stakes, 9 race program that contains nearly $1.3 million in purse money.
Owned by Linda Sours and trained by Sandra Dono, Lucy’s Bob Boy appears to be coming into the race in peak form off three straight wins, including a 7 1/4 length romp in his last start, the Roger Ramey Handicap on September 20. The five-year-old’s recent streak is a far cry from what he showed in his previous three starts – all defeats – where he finished no better than fourth.
After an easy 8 1/2 length win in his 2104 debut, Dono gave her stable star a chance to try his hand in the $1,500,000 Charles Town Classic (G2) the following month. However, the speedy Lucy’s Bob Boy found dealing with the likes of Game on Dude and Moreno on the front end to be too difficult a task and faded to seventh, 30 lengths behind eventual winner Imperative.
Following a pair of fourth place efforts in allowance races at Mountaineer and Charles Town, Dono gave the son of Flatter something he hadn’t had mid-campaign – an 8 week break from the races.
“We wanted to give him some time away from the races to get him a little fresher and let his feet grow out,” explained Dono. “It’s definitely helped him a lot. I know my horse well and when his feet are ok, he’s ok and this is the best his feet have ever been.”
Upon coming back, Lucy’s Bob Boy once again resembled the horse who has won 20 of his 26 lifetime starts at Charles Town as he drubbed rivals, including Russell Road, in an August 1 allowance race, the Frank Gall Memorial and Roger Ramey, with the margin of victory being at least three lengths in each race.
Dono was not only pleased with those races, but also thinks it may foretell what happens on the track come Saturday.
“He’s definitely moving upward and forward with his races. Those were some of his best races and I think he’s coming into this race better than he has for any race in the past.”
Arnaldo Bocachica rides Lucy’s Bob Boy who breaks from post 8.
Despite being the 3-to-5 morning line favorite, Lucy’s Bob Boy is just one of three horses in Saturday night’s field who have a win in the race already on their resume.
The ageless Russell Road, now an eight-year-old, will try to win the race for a third time, having captured it in both 2009 and 2011. Owned by Mark Russell and trained by James W. Casey, Russell Road narrowly missed adding that third win last year when he forged a lead in deep stretch, only to be caught by Fred High in the final strides.
After starting his 2014 campaign off with a sharp score in an allowance race at Mountaineer in May, the veteran of 52 lifetime starts has not found the winner’s circle in his four starts since then. However, owner Mark Russell knows that the real pot of gold lies ahead in October of each year.
“No question that this race is the big goal for us,” Russell said. “Now that he’s eight, we’ve cut back his schedule even more than in the past to try and keep him fresh coming into the West Virginia Breeders’ Classics. We start training him a little harder as the year goes on and get him ready for this one.”
Included in Russell Road’s four race losing streak are three races where Lucy’s Bob Boy got the best of him, including the Roger Ramey in both horses’ last start. While he hopes to turn the tables on the favorite come Saturday, even Russell admits to his rival being difficult to conquer right now.
“Lucy’s Bob Boy is in the zone right now. If he runs back to his last race, we’re probably all running for second place but we can only hope he doesn’t or he bounces a bit. We’ll take it as it comes on Saturday but he’s going to have to take a step backwards.”
The son of Wheaton, who has served as the face of the West Virginia bred program for the last several years, stands second on the all-time money list among West Virginia breds, trailing only Soul of the Matter. For his owner, it’s been a long, nearly 30 year road that’s been traveled before getting a horse with this type of earning power.
“I got in the business back in 1985 with a few cheap horses. I found myself sitting at work thinking about nothing other than the $2,500 claimer I had in the next night. I was hoping to someday just get an allowance horse, but we got one of those and then a couple fillies that made half a million and now Russell (Road). It’s like hitting the lottery with him. He’s had a big money impact and it’s allowed us to invest in new stock.”
Jose Montano has the call on Russell Road who is one of three horses trained by Casey in the race with Strawberry Cupcake and Captain Klink, the lone three-year-old in the field, being the other two.
Defending champion Fred High would become the fifth back to back winner of the Breeders’ Classic but, much like Russell Road, has not won after starting his season with a victory.
Fred High, based in Maryland with trainer John Robb, defeated an allowance field to start 2014 but could do no better than fifth in the Frank Gall Memorial and fourth in the Roger Ramey. Those efforts come in stark contrast to last year when the gelding owned and bred by Ed Krishack came into the West Virginia Breeders’ Classic off of consecutive wins prior to his victory as the 5-to-1 third choice.
Jevian Toledo will ride Fred High for the first time and break from post 9 between Lucy’s Bob Boy and Russell Road. Toledo will be looking for his second win in a $500,000 race at Charles Town this year having won the Charles Town Oaks (G3) on Miss Behaviour in September.
With a win on Saturday, David Raim’s Golden Set would become the first horse to ever win three different West Virginia Breeders’ Classics races having also won the Farm Family Insurance and Vincent Moscarelli Breeders’ Classic in 2010 and the West Virginia Lottery Breeders’ Classic in 2011. The six-year-old son of Tapit was fourth in last year’s Breeders’ Classic, beaten 2 1/4 lengths for the win.
Oscar Flores rides Golden Set for Raim and trainer Jeff Runco. Runco will also saddle Rolling Hills Racing Stable’s He’s a Prize in the race.
Clink Clink Clink – third at 53-to-1 in last year’s Breeders’ Classic – and a pair of horses from the Ollie Figgins, III barn in Allegheny Jack and Shanghai Daddy complete the lineup.