Charitable Annuity to face Classic rivals in A Huevo
by Frank Vespe
Just about a month ago, Charitable Annuity, North Atlantic, and Weekend Liberty put on a show in the $350,000 West Virginia Breeders Classic, all three noses apart on the wire.
Now, the stage is set for those three to renew acquaintances. All three — along with the Classic’s fourth-place finisher, Ello Govna — are slated to face the Charles Town starter in Saturday’s $50,000 A Huevo Stakes at the same 1 1/8 mile, three-turn distance.
Charitable Annuity, trained by James W. Casey, got the nod on WVBC night — winning the Classic by a nose for his second Classic triumph in three years — and he gets the nod as morning line favorite here. He is 2-1 on the morning line.
Under Christian Hiraldo, he earned the WVBC win via a smooth trip in which he was able to reach contention slipping through along the rail before tipping out while rounding the turn to make his bid. He’s the only runner here with more than one win at the 1 1/8 mile distance and, in fact, has an impressive 11-6-2-2-0 ledger at the trip.
He’s won this race each of the last two years and figures to have a good shot for the hat trick here. Christian Hiraldo will ride again.
North Atlantic was achingly close in the Classic, making the lead late before getting pipped at the wire. The Jeff Runco trainee stalked the early pace before taking over from a tiring longshot on the far turn but — barely — could not hold off Charitable Annuity.
Regular pilot Arnaldo Bocachica retains the mount on a horse looking to turn the tables. North Atlantic is 5-2 on the morning line.
Yet it was the show horse that day, Weekend Liberty, who might have been best of all. Another Runco trainee, this Midshipman gelding rallied from ninth in a 10-horse field but lost crucial time in the lane when rider Gerald Almodovar couldn’t find a seam when in behind horses.
When a seam finally did open, this four-year-old barged right through but was just an inch too late. It was an ultra-game effort for a horse who was 13-1 that day, and a repeat of that, with a cleaner trip, might be enough to get him the money. Almodovar retains the mount. Weekend Liberty is 5-1 on the morning line.
Ello Govna (8-1), fourth in the Classic after leading at the head of the lane, will try it again here, but the distance seems likely to be his undoing. The Ollie Figgins trainee, who’ll have Jose Montano up, is winless in four tries at the distance.
The rest of the field all are in double digits. Perhaps of most interest is Rocket Road (12-1). He’s winless for the year, but last out ran a big BRIS speed figure when second in an allowance at Mountaineer and now switches into the barn of Tim Grams. Luis Batista will ride.
The A Huevo — named for the star-crossed Michael Dickinson trainee who won the 2003 Grade 1 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash in his third start off a four-year layoff and, a year after that, won the West Virginia Breeders Classic by 19 lengths — is scheduled for race eight on Charles Town’s Saturday card. Post time is 10:19 p.m.