Moonlit Song likely to take starring role in WVBC
by Ted Black
Since the outset of the racing schedule at Charles Town, Moonlit Song has been the dominant West Virginia-bred three-year-old filly on the circuit, and following her powerful performance against older rivals in the Sadie Hawkins Stakes last month, the Tim Grams-trained homebred daughter of Fiber Sonde now looms a prohibitive favorite in this Saturday’s $125,000 Cavada, the feature for fillies and mares three and up on the West Virginia Breeders Classics card.
Moonlit Song is 3-5 on the morning line.
A winner once in two outings as a juvenile, Moonlit Song has won seven of nine starts and banked nearly $175,000 this year heading into the Cavada. Her resounding victory in the Sadie Hawkins, one in which she posted a faster clocking (1:25.87) than Tequilita (1:26.05) did while taking the Grade 3, $300,000 Charles Town Oaks an hour later on the same card, sent many of her rivals, young and older, seeking other events on the WVBC card.
“She came out of that race great and she’s doing really, really good leading up to the Cavada,” Grams said. “I wanted to try her in the Sadie Hawkins to see just how she would do against older fillies. She ran a tremendous race. It was better than anything I could have ever expected. The whole way through the stretch, I just could not take my eyes off of her. She has plenty of natural speed, but she also seems to have another gear.”
Moonlit Song had defeated older rivals earlier this year in the Fancy Buckles Stakes, coincidentally named for a prior Grams trainee, but her victory in the Sadie Hawkins was so emphatic that only seven others even nominated to the Cavada — and only five of those entered — despite its lucrative pot.
Defending champion Candy Man’s Girl, owned, bred and trained by James W. Casey, has yet to win a race from four starts this year, while Sadie Hawkins runner-up T Rex Express only sports one win from six starts this year for trainer Jeff Runco. Sophomore Lies And Scandals ended up in the Distaff against older foes at nine furlongs.
“Candy Man’s Girl is definitely not as good as she was last year,” Casey said. “She came out of her last workout okay, but there’s a chance she won’t go in there. That filly of Tim Grams looks really tough to beat.”
With divisional leaders Moonlit Song and Lies And Scandals opting to face older mares, the West Virginia Division of Tourism, for three-year-old fillies, will likely be among the softest races on the card. But it also figures to be a wide-open affair.
James Casey’s Tricky Windsor is the tepid morning line favorite for the Division of Tourism with odds of 3-1. She ran fourth in the Sadie Hawkins and third in the Sylvia Bishop Memorial, against three-year-old fillies, and has three wins from nine starts this season. Others likely to be in the wagering vanguard for the race include Jeff Runco’s Honeymoon Cruise (7-2), who has two wins this year but was ninth in the Bishop in late August but has not raced since; Casey’s Scottish Denis (4-1), who has a single win from 10 starts this year; and Groomed To Rock (6-1), a winner three times in 11 starts this year for trainer Stephen Regetts. Grams will be represented by Gallant Calling (10-1) in here.
While the West Virginia Division of Tourism may come up light, the West Virginia Triple Crown Nutrition Stakes for state-bred two-year-old fillies should put the spotlight on Noblame (3-5), an undefeated daughter of Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Blame who has won all three starts in her brief career, including last month’s six-length score in the $50,000 Rachel’s Turn Stakes in her local debut for trainer Joe Sharp. Noblame had won her first two starts at Indiana Grand and made a quick transition to Charles Town and should be tough in this spot.
Like the Cavada, the Triple Crown Nutrition offers another chance for Casey to post an upset on a night when many of his trainees have typically been favored. Casey will send out Bound to Windsor (6-1), a determined winner of her career debut after going to her nose at the break, who offered little in her stakes debut last month in the Rachel’s Turn and was no match for Noblame who drew off despite pressing the pace three-wide through the first three-eighths of a mile.
“I really thought my filly would run better than she did in the Rachel’s Turn,” Casey said. “Nothing went her way in her first start and she still came back to win. I really thought she was going to run well in that stakes. She just never really fired and the winner was really good. That filly (Noblame) ran faster than my good older horse, Greenway Court did. She looks really tough to beat in there, but my filly is better than what she showed in that last race.”
The nine-furlong West Virginia Distaff will feature two-time defending champion Spa Creek (5-2) for trainer Jeff Runco. She has only won once in five starts this year, but she owns a 9-12-2 slate and almost $300,000 banked in 32 local tries, including two wins and two second-place finishes at the distance. Romantic Cork (2-1), second in the nine-furlong My Sister Pearl Stakes last fall for trainer John A. Casey, looms a serious contender, as do both Lies And Scandals and New London, another Runco trainee, although the Distaff will be the first try around three turns for both fillies.