CT: Boundtobebad really good in Original Gold stunner
After more than three months of a steady diet of overnight races, Charles Town racing fans, owners and trainers chowed down on the first two stakes on the calendar on Saturday night. As it happened, both $75,000 events for West Virginia-breds, the Original Gold for fillies and mares and the Confucius Say, produced surprising upsets.
Heading into the $75,000 Original Gold Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares, most of the attention was focused on Star of Night. The two-time defending West Virginia-bred horse of the year for trainer Jeff Runco entered on a nine-race win streak and with an aura local invincibility.
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With Arnaldo Bocachica up, Star of Night was sent out as the 1-5 choice and garnered more than $100,000 in show wagers from bridge jumpers. But she was away a bit awkwardly, brushed with longshot Long Legs Louise, who stumbled and lost her rider leaving the gate, and was dealt a rare, stunning defeat.
Boundtobebad (Gerald Almodovar), the champion state-bred two-year-old filly in 2019, arrived with three runner-up efforts from four winless starts this year for owner-trainer John A. Casey and was subsequently overlooked as a 34-1 outsider. But on a night when upsets were the norm, Boundtobebad finally regained her winning ways when she surged to command on the far turn then held safe Star of Night and an onslaught of closers to prevail by three parts of a length in 1:26.75 for the seven furlongs over the fast track.
“John called me earlier and told me she was doing really good and he wanted me to be close to the pace tonight,” Almodovar said of Casey, who missed the evening while attending a baseball game involving his son, Allen. “I was able to sit just behind the leaders and then I wanted to move before Star of Night made her move. I got the jump on her going into the far turn and I noticed she really wasn’t gaining on me turning for home. John said she was doing really good, and he was right.”
A five-year-old daughter of Windsor Castle, Boundtobebad recorded her first win in five starts this year and she now sports a 5-12-7 slate and over $282,942 banked from 27 career outings. The win snapped a five-race losing streak for Boundtobebad and served as her first stakes win since the 2019 West Virginia Futurity.
On the other side of the ledger, the defeat snapped the nine-race win streak that Star of Night had posted, which included a pair of victories in the My Sister Pearl Stakes and a handy score in the $150,000 Cavada Breeders’ Classic last fall. It was her first defeat since May 2020.
Then one race later in the $75,000 Confucius Say for state-breds, No Change (Marshall Mendez) rallied from fifth to forge a mild upset as the 2-1 second choice when he overhauled favored Penguin Power for a length score in 1:25.33 for the seven panels. Like Star of Night, Penguin Power was ridden by Arnaldo Bocachica for trainer Jeff Runco.
A four-year-old Fiber Sonde gelding owned, bred and trained by John McKee, No Change recorded his fourth straight victory to start the season and notched the first stakes victory of his career while giving promising apprentice jockey Marshall Mendez the first stakes triumph of his young career.
“The race really didn’t set up the way I thought it would,” Mendez said. “I thought my horse would show a little more speed and I thought [Penguin Power] would be on the lead. But when he settled down the backside he was going easily. On the far turn I knew he had a big chance. He finished up really well. I didn’t know if he could get past Penguin Power, but he did it without a lot of trouble. I’m so happy to get my first stakes win with this horse. He’s been a great horse for me.”
No Change remained perfect in four starts this year and now sports a solid 9-5-2 slate and over $250,000 banked from 19 lifetime outings. McKee watched the race from home at his Beau Ridge Farm, and he applauded both horse and rider for their effort on Saturday night in his absence.
“He was really coming into the race really, really good,” McKee said. “I thought he had a big chance in there. I’m so happy for Marshall. He’s done a good job with him. When he first came here, I put him on his first winner and he’s won for me a number of times already on this horse. I was glad to put him on his first stakes winner. I did that for Christian Hiraldo when he first got started. He rode his first winner for me, and he won two stakes for me on Breeders Classics night. But I’m happy with this horse and I’m happy for Marshall, because he works hard, he listens and he really rides this horse well.”
The Original Gold and Confucius Say Stakes are both named for two of the best West Virginia-breds of the past 20 years. Original Gold posted a 7-4-2 slate and nearly $375,000 banked from 17 career outings for owner-trainer Ronney Brown, including consecutive victories in the Cavada in 2004 and 2005. Confucius Say boasts a 19-8-5 slate and over $1 million banked from 42 starts for trainer George Yetsook and owner-breeder O’Sullivan Farms, including three victories in the West Virginia Breeders’ Classic in 2001, 2002, and 2007.
CT stakes winners