Runnin’toluvya returns with sharp score
The big horse is back.
More than five months removed from his last outing, and about 10 months after his last victory, Runnin’toluvya aced his first test back Saturday night in a salty, $32,500 allowance contest at Charles Town Races.
Runnin’toluvya, trained by Tim Grams for his and his wife Judy’s Grams Racing Stable, won 10 consecutive races bridging 2018 and 2019, with the topper coming in the streak’s penultimate event, the Grade 2, $1 million Charles Town Classic.
But following that win and an easy follow-up score in allowance company, 2019 went sideways for Runnin’toluvya. He was a disappointing fifth in the Grade 3 Iseln at Monmouth Park, second in the Frank Gall Memorial Stakes after breaking last, and then 10th, after cutting his stifle when antsy prior to the race, in the West Virginia Breeders’ Classic.
So it was no surprise that Grams called Saturday’s contest “like a must-win situation,” not from the financial side but from a “can he still be that kind of horse” perspective.
Saturday, he broke alertly to press the pace set by Penguin Power, the Jeff Runco trainee who’d been the most direct beneficiary when Runnin’toluvya had broken poorly in the Gall.
Those two were clear pretty much throughout from the other two runners in the field, Mean Bean and North Atlantic.
The lead pair, with Christian Hiraldo aboard Runnin’toluvya and Arnaldo Bocachica on Penguin Power, were just a half-length apart after a half-mile in 46.66 seconds.
Rounding the turn for home, Penguin Power opened up some ground between himself and Runnin’toluvya and seemed to have taken control.
But in the lane, Runnin’toluvya fought back, grabbed control, and won by two lengths.
“The gray rocket is back,” track announcer Paul Espinosa called as Runnin’toluvya crossed the wire in 1:25.31 for seven furlongs on a fast main track.
It was Runnin’toluvya’s 14th win from 21 career starts and pushed his earnings past the $970,000 barrier. Bred in West Virginia by Leslie Cromer, Runnin’toluvya is a son of Fiber Sonde who’s on the brink of joining the fairly small club of WV-bred millionaires.
Earlier on the card, Muad’dib, a full-brother to the recently retired multiple graded stakes winner Late Night Pow Wow, ran his record to a perfect three-for-three with an eight-length score in a state-bred allowance. Trained by Jeff Runco for David Raim, the three-year-old has won all of his starts by at least five lengths, with a combined margin of victory of 21 lengths.
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