Weekend: Angle of Attack slashes to Casey upset
Angle of Attack (outside) narrowly defeated Boundtobebad to win the Eleanor Casey Memorial Stakes. Photo by Coady Photography.
On the night in which the track offered its last stakes race on the calendar, the Eleanor Casey Memorial for West Virginia-bred two-year-old fillies, Charles Town also paid homage to Dennis Kirk, one of its former, longtime fixtures who played a variety of roles at the track and passed away suddenly last Wednesday evening.
In the $50,000 Eleanor Casey Memorial, named in honor of the late wife of owner-breeder-trainer James W. Casey, much of the attention was focused on an unbeaten filly who was saddled by her widower. Boundtobebad, a daughter of Windsor Castle was made the 1-5 favorite and seeking her fourth win in as many starts, while Angle of Attack (Arnaldo Bocachica) was made the 5-2 second choice for trainer Jeff Runco, having won her previous outing at the distance by seven lengths.
Soon after the gates opened in the Eleanor Casey Memorial, Boundtobebad and Angle of Attack both broke alertly and both were intent on being on the pace. Boundtobebad used her inside post to gain the advantage initially, but Angle of Attack was right on her flank as they dueled through the clubhouse turn and down the backside while getting splits of 23.34 and 48.31 for the first two calls.
Entering the far turn, Boundtobebad appeared to have shaken loose briefly from Angle of Attack, but the Runco trainee found another gear midway on the far turn and the two juvenile fillies were side-by-side at the head of the lane. Neither seemed willing to yield in the lane, but it was Angle of Attack who surged past the 1-5 choice in the final yards to win by a head and forge a mild 5-2 upset while getting the seven panels in 1:27.99 for her second win in three career tries.
“This filly got sick prior to the West Virginia Breeders Classics, so I ended up not even entering her,” Runco said. “I was sick about it. This is my wife’s horse and it’s her favorite horse. She really knows how to breed them. I’m lucky that I get to train them. I thought she would run well tonight, but now she’ll get some time off and I’ll bring her back next spring for her three-year-old year.”
While Boundtobebad may have seen her win streak halted at three, jockey Arnaldo Bocachica extended his personal win streak to four straight races on the card. Bocachica won three of those for Runco and was impressed with Angle of Attack’s performance in her stakes debut.
“I thought that if I could put some pressure on [Boundtobebad] then I had a chance to beat her,” Bocachica said. “I didn’t want her to get an easy lead. My filly was really digging in when I got after her left-handed turning for home. She basically won this race off of three workouts. She’s going to be really good next year, and I know Jeff has a few more good ones in his barn.”
Two races earlier in a two-turn allowance race for state-bred three-year-olds and up that could have passed for a minor stake, Aaron’s Tap easily lived up to his role as the 6-5 favorite when he gained command through the clubhouse turn and then led throughout en route to a 2 1/2-length score under Bocachica. A five-year-old Northern Fleet gelding trained by Runco for owner Smart Angle LLP (Daniel Ryan), Aaron’s Tap notched his third win from eight starts this year and now owns 13 wins and nearly $300,000 banked from 25 career outings after getting the seven furlongs in 1:26.21.
“He was really good,” Runco said of Aaron’s Tap. “He broke well and got the trip that we wanted. He’s been racing good all year. We’ve run into some tough ones, but tonight he was in a good spot and got the trip that we wanted.”
Several races earlier on the card, Alltheway to Cairo (Jose Montano) delivered one of the sharpest performances on the card when he gained command soon after the break and led throughout for an 11-length score in $5,000 maiden claiming event; he stopped the timer in 52.26 for the 4 1/2-furlongs. A sophomore son of Cairo Prince trained by Aaron West, Alltheway to Cairo had been sixth and eighth, respectively, in his two previous outings against much tougher at the Fair Grounds and Churchill Downs but graduated in smart fashion Saturday.
Roughly 30 minutes before the opening race on the Saturday night card, Charles Town honored former jockey and jocks’ room manager Dennis Kirk, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 67 on Wednesday. During his riding career, Kirk won 713 races from 5,757 mounts and he was the regular pilot of two local stars, Cortan and Jiva Coolit. Then for nearly 30 years he was the jocks’ room manager at Charles Town before retiring just two years ago.
“I’ve been here for 10 years and Dennis was here for many years before that,” said Charles Town Director of Racing, Charlie McIntosh. “He retired a couple of years ago and his cancer was already in remission. He seemed to really be enjoying his retired life. He came here for a high school reunion event and looked good. When we heard the news on Wednesday night, I think all of us here were in total shock and disbelief.”
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