Muad’dib, Runnin’toluvya square off at CT

It’s not every day that Charles Town – or any other track, for that matter – hosts a race featuring a graded stakes-winning millionaire versus an undefeated, 9-for-9 rival.

Not every day, perhaps – but it will be Friday, July 15, when millionaire Runnin’toluvya and undefeated Muad’dib square off in a $38,700, seven-furlong allowance contest for West Virginia-breds three and up. The contest is carded as race seven, with a projected post time of 10:02 p.m. EDT.

Both Muad’dib (3-5 morning line) and Runnin’toluvya (7-2) have questions to answer.

Muad’dib hasn’t put a foot wrong in his career. But the five-year-old Fiber Sonde gelding, last year’s co-West Virginia-bred Horse of the Year after a perfect campaign that saw him win the Frank Gall Memorial Stakes, West Virginia Breeders’ Classic, and the A Huevo, hasn’t raced since last November 6.

Muad’dib has been training forwardly towards his return to action, and a good outing here would set him up perfectly to attempt to run the local stakes table for the second consecutive year.

Longtime local training kingpin Jeff Runco, who conditions Muad’dib for David Raim, isn’t having a Runcoesque season, winning at just a 14% clip,and well behind meet leader Anthony Farrior in wins. But Runco remains a formidable local presence with a high-end operation; leading rider Arnaldo Bocachica, who has ridden Muad’dib in all of his starts, retains the mount.

Runco has also entered Boaster (9-2), a late-running six-year-old by Creative Cause who seems more likely to fill out the trifecta than earn win honors.

As for Runnin’toluvya, the eight-year-old, also a Fiber Sonde gelding, returned April 30 from a lengthy vacation with a third-place finish in allowance company. That race went to Candy Invasion, now a winner of three straight.

That was Runnin’toluvya’s first start since December 11, 2020, when he had run fourth as the favorite in that year’s A Huevo. Trained by Tim Grams for his and his wife Judy’s Grams Racing Stable, Runnin’toluvya enjoyed his greatest success in 2018-2019 when he compiled a 10-race win streak, topped by a win in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic.

Following that streak, though, he struggled to find consistency, mixing good and bad performances: five defeats as the favorite, four at odds-on, versus two wins not as the favorite.

Christian Hiraldo, up for his last four starts, has the return mount.

Here’s how we ‘capped it:

#4 Muad’dib (3-5), with a spotless record and one WV-bred horse of the year crown in the bank, will make his seasonal bow in this contest. He’s fired fresh before, and in a race that looks to have some front-end pace, he should get a congenial setup… #3 Runnin’toluvya (7-2) is a Grade 2 winner and millionaire. He returned from a 17-month layoff April 30 with a credible try, finishing third behind Candy Invasion, now a winner of three straight, and is showing two sharp works in the interim. He’s been prone to surprising poor performances of late — he’s been the beaten favorite five times on the page — but his last effort says there’s still some gas in the tank… #5 Boaster (9-2) is likely to be last early but should be able to run on late… #1 Hero’s Man (5-1) is in a bit of a tough spot here: drawn inside, he’d like to control this one from the front. But immediately to his outside is Remy’s Showtime, who, with several solid one-turn outings on the page, has plenty of speed to complicate things…