West Virginia-breds hit the ground running in ’17

by | Jan 6, 2017 | Breaking, Breeding, West Virginia, WV Breeding

Russell Road may be retired, but West Virginia-breds are still thriving. Photo by Jeff Brammer.

From a Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races release

Russell Road’s reign as the face of West Virginia breds might be over, but his presence and that of his dam, Roberta Grump, can certainly still be felt in the ranks of the state’s breeding program.

That impact was felt this past weekend up in New York when Russell Road’s big sister Shesagrumptoo – herself an earner of more than $450,000 – saw her then two-year-old son Grumpelstiltskin take a maiden special weight at Aqueduct on December 31 in his second career start, earning an impressive Beyer Speed Figure of 87.

That was just the start of a good weekend for horses bred in the Mountain State, which could portend well for the remainder of 2017. In fact, since December 31, the only state breeding programs to kick out winners at Aqueduct, Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park are Kentucky, Florida……and West Virginia.

Owned by NFL Hall of Famer Bill Parcells’ August Dawn Farm, Grumpelstiltskin, a bay gelding by Successful Appeal originally sold as a yearling for $50,000 at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Eastern Fall Yearling’s auction and made one start three weeks prior at Aqueduct, finishing a well beaten sixth.

One day after Grumpelstiltskin’s maiden score, five-year-old West Virginia bred My Sister Caro made her first start since a runner-up effort behind Spectacular Me in the $100,000 Claiming Crown Distaff Dash. The daughter of Bop was able to turn the tables on Spectacular Me on New Year’s Day in a starter optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park, and she pulled clear for a 2 3/4 length score. My Sister Caro started her career in the Mid-Atlantic and spent much of her two and three-year-old campaigns at Charles Town in the barn of trainer Tim Grams, hitting the board in three restricted stakes in the process.

The triple was capped later that day at Santa Anita when trainer Doug O’Neill saddled Basinca to a win in a $25,000 claiming event. By Proud Citizen, Basinca was bred in West Virginia by veterinarian Maurice Casey, III and ultimately sold for $190,000 as a two-year-old in training in 2015. The bay gelding also holds the distinction of being the beaten favorite in likely Eclipse Award winner Drefong’s 2015 maiden breaking score at Del Mar.

“I can’t ever recall seeing three West Virginia-breds winning races at those types of tracks in succession like that,” said Dickie Moore, Charles Town’s General Manager of Racing Operations. “It certainly helps the profile of racing in our state to have them win at those venues.”

Further West Virginia-bred reinforcements seem to be on the way as well. Afleet Rey, a $150,000 yearling purchase out of Fasig-Tipton’s 2015 Saratoga Selected Yearlings sale, is currently in training with Mark Hennig and figures to debut in 2017. And once two-year-old races kick off later this year, you could well see other West Virginia-breds who fetched six-figures at auction in 2016, including a Shanghai Bobby filly who sold for $245,000 at the Saratoga Select Sale and another filly by Candy Ride who brought in $180,000 at Keeneland’s September sale.

The 2017 racing season in West Virginia gets underway on Wednesday, January 11 when Hollywood Casino hosts its first card of the new year. Post time for the first race is set for 7:00 P.M. EST.