QUESTIONS TO ANSWER IN THE A HUEVO

Awsome Faith
Awsome Faith scored a major upset in the West Virginia Breeders Classic. Photo by Coady Photography.

Saturday’s $50,000 A Huevo Stakes for older West Virginia-breds ought to provide the answers to some questions. But which questions, and what will the answers be?

Can Awsome Faith build on his stunning West Virginia Breeders’ Classic win? What happened to Runnin’toluvya that night, and can he bounce back? Will Maryland-based invader V. I. P. Ticket get a breakthrough victory? What about North Atlantic and Buff’s Eye View?

You can probably come up with your own queries, too, because while in recent years these nine-furlong races have been all about Runnin’toluvya, this evening’s three-turn tilt appears to be a wide-open affair.

The Tim Grams trainee, a tepid 5-2 morning line favorite, has alternated good and bad efforts thus far in 2020, and the 10-race win streak he ripped off in 2018 and 2019 feels like a long time ago. He’s won twice this year, scoring in allowance company in March and then taking the Frank Gall Memorial in September after getting a perfect setup. He also ran big to be third in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic in August.

On the other hand, he was well beaten in both the Confucius Say and, last time out, the West Virginia Breeders’ Classic, in which he finished sixth as the 2-5 favorite.

So, as the man says, you pays your money, you takes your cherce. Christian Hiraldo has the mount.

In the WV Breeders’ Classic, the most immediate beneficiary of Runnin’toluvya’s failure to fire was Awsome Faith. The Scott Allen trainee rallied from out of it to win by a half-length at 37-1 odds. It was the Friesan Fire gelding’s first stakes win and came in his 52nd career start.

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Can he double up? He’ll need the pace to fall apart as it did in the Classic, and he’ll need to back that effort up with another big one this evening. He’s 6-1 on the morning line and will again have Antonio Lopez in the irons.

The Maryland invader V. I. P. Ticket is in search of the first stakes win of his career. The four-year-old Windsor Castle colt, trained at Laurel Park by Jerry O’Dwyer, has finished second or third in five consecutive allowance tilts and has been stakes-placed twice in 24 career starts. Gerald Almodovar has the mount on a runner who’s been installed as the 3-1 second choice.

A pair of local runners which each have a single stakes win appear to be major players in this spot.

The Jeff Runco-trained North Atlantic (5-1) has just one stakes win from 48 career starts. But, remarkably, he’s been stakes-placed 14 additional times; with over $618,000 in the bank already, it’s easy to see what kind of career he might have had if he could have turned some of those placings to wins.

North Atlantic’s lone stakes win came in this event, in 2017, and he’s been second and third in it the last two years. He’s also competed in the West Virginia Breeders’ Classic four times, finishing in the trifecta in all four. Arnaldo Bocachica will do the honors.

Buff’s Eye View just missed against Awsome Faith in this year’s Classic, which has been something of a theme for the David Walters-trained Buffum gelding this year. He’s been second or third in all six of his 2020 starts. His lone stakes triumph came in the 2018 WV Lottery Breeders’ Classic.

Buff’s Eye View is 9-2 on the morning line and will have Carlos Delgado in the irons.

Hero’s Man (8-1) is the only other runner in single digits. Opera Nite (12-1), Royal Blue (50-1), Step Out Dancing (30-1), and Castle Bound (30-1) round out the field.

The A Huevo, named for the Michael Dickinson trainee who returned from a nearly-four-year layoff to win the 2003 Grade 1 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, is the seventh of eight races and slated to go off at 10:02 p.m.

CHARLES TOWN NOTES Parisian Diva, a three-time stakes winner in 2019, will make just her second start of 2020, and first since May, in an allowance at Laurel Park. The Stacey Viands trainee is showing four works since early October, including a sharp four-furlong move in 46 4/5 at Charles Town November 21; that was the fastest of 42 at the distance that day. Parisian Diva is the 3-1 third choice on the morning line in a $47,000 allowance contest…

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