William and Mary towers in split WV Futurity
by Ted Black
It’s the most common come-on in marketing: two for the price of one!
As it happens, Charles Town race fans will receive exactly that Saturday evening when the card kicks off with the West Virginia Futurity, which, with 13 entrants, has been split into two divisions. The $50,000 fixture offers one horse – or more precisely, one trainer – a shot at redemption of sorts.
In the weeks leading up to the Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Breeders Classic on the October 14 West Virginia Breeders Classics card, many onlookers were eager to see if William and Mary could duplicate his stellar performance in the $50,000 Henry Mercer Stakes, the last prep for the Moscarelli. But in the days leading up to the race, James W. Casey discovered that his talented homebred son of Windsor Castle was not eligible to the race and he would have to seek two later consolation prizes over the strip – this event and the Tri-State Futurity on December 23.
“It came as a total surprise to me that he wasn’t eligible to the Moscarelli,” Casey said. “I had 27 colts that I wanted to nominate to that race, and one of them got hurt and then I forgot to add William and Mary to the list. It’s a shame because he’s really nice. He’s probably the most talented two-year-old at this point of his career that I’ve ever had, even better than Russell Road and Charitable Annuity. He’s been getting better as his workouts have gotten longer, so I think he’ll like the seven furlongs even more than he did going 4 ½ [furlongs].”
William and Mary, a son of Windsor Castle out of the Deher mare, Demay, who was given to Casey by trainer Jeff Runco, narrowly won his career debut on August 26 as the 4-5 favorite in a one-turn maiden special weight dash for state-bred colts, but he came right back to trounce his rivals in the Henry Mercer, stopping the timer in 52.02 on a night when Casey’s veteran campaigner, Greenway Court, won the It’s Only Money Stakes in 52.55. It was the type of performance that Casey had anticipated from the homebred and one that he and rival trainers anticipate he can duplicate this weekend in his first outing going two turns.
“He’s got plenty of speed, but he always finishes his workouts really well,” Casey said. “We’ve had him go five furlongs the last three times and he’s done it really nicely. He’s got the West Virginia Futurity and the Tri-State Futurity and maybe I might try to find a race for him in between. I know next year I’m going to have to supplement him to the Breeders Classics and depending on how good he is I might put him in the Classic. But we’ll see – that’s a long ways off.”
William and Mary is 3-5 on the morning line for the first of the two divisions.
Casey also plans to run Binn Goode in the West Virginia Futurity following his maiden score last week. Another homebred son of Windsor Castle that he owns and trains, Binn Goode was second in his debut, third in his next start then was sixth in the Mercer before running second behind Owen’s Mo in the Moscarelli. He came back last Thursday to garner his diploma in a two-turn maiden special weight event by getting the 6 1/2-furlongs in 1:20.75 as the prohibitive 1-5 choice.
He’s 5-2 in the second of the two divisions.
While Casey will have two homebreds heading into the West Virginia Futurity off solid scores, trainer Ollie Figgins, III, is hoping that a modest equipment change with Dionysus Chalice will enable the Fiber Sonde gelding to regain his winning ways for owner-breeder Dr. E. Clinton Lowry. Dionysus Chalice scored in his career debut on Aug. 26 by taking a one-turn maiden special weight event by five lengths over Binn Goode, but he has since been the beaten favorite in both the Mercer and the Moscarelli, settling for third on each occasion.
“He was really good that first start, but he definitely has not been as sharp the last two,” Figgins said. “So, we added blinkers to him the other day for his last workout and he seemed to have a little more speed and a little more energy. He really ran well that first time out, but he didn’t really seem to move forward in the Mercer or the Moscarelli. When William and Mary wasn’t in the Moscarelli, I thought my horse had a good chance in there. But he didn’t fire that night, so we felt like we had to make a little equipment change and hopefully the blinkers will help. I’m hoping the race gets split so maybe I won’t have to face William and Mary in my division.”
In fact, that’s how it’s happened, and Dionysus’ Chalice is 3-1 in the second of the two divisions. In that event he’ll see Binn Goode, the second choice, and the favorite Punch Your Brother for trainer Hugh McMahon. Punch Your Brother (7-5) ran second in the Mercer before breaking her maiden last out at Penn National.