WV-bred champ Star of Night retired

With the final prep races on tap later this month for the West Virginia Breeders Classics at Charles Town later this fall, one prominent mainstay, Star of Night, the two-time reigning West Virginia-bred horse of the year, will not be on hand.

A five-year-old daughter of Creative Cause trained by Jeff Runco for owner-breeder Heinz Steinmann’s Huntertown Farm, Star of Night has been retired. She had been on track to try to defend her titles in the Sadie Hawkins on August 26 and Cavada on October 8, but Runco remarked that a number of factors led to the decision, and Steinmann agreed that the talented mare should be retired from racing and allowed to begin a second career as a potential broodmare.

“She’s really had a few little things here and there throughout her career,” Runco said of Star of Night. “So, we decided that she should retire this summer and be given a chance to become a broodmare. We just thought it was the right time. She had a stellar career. She only got beat three times, so that really speaks for itself.”

Star of Night concluded her career with 12 wins from 15 outings and banked over $400,000. She earned six stakes victories, including last year’s West Virginia Cavada Breeders’ Classic and the past two editions of the My Sister Pearl.

Star of Night finished second in her career debut at age two in a two-turn maiden special weight event over a sloppy surface at Charles Town. She truly blossomed at age three when she won six of seven starts and posted stakes victories in the Sylvia Bishop, the West Virginia Tourism Office BC and then in the My Sister Pearl Stakes. That triumph, by a narrow margin over that year’s Cavada winner Bridging the Gap and solidified her status as the West Virginia-bred horse of the year.

“She had always shown the potential to be a very, very good horse,” Runco said. “The talent was always there. She had a few little things that would pop up, but never anything that was that serious. She always seemed to race right through whatever little aches and pains she had.”

Bolstered by her success at the tail end of her sophomore season, Star of Night was even better at age four when she won all five of her starts and capped the campaign by taking the Sadie Hawkins, the Cavada and the My Sister Pearl. She was the unanimous choice for champion West Virginia-bred older filly or mare. She shared the horse of the year honors with stablemate Muad’dib, who also enjoyed a perfect season that ended with victories in the West Virginia Breeders’ Classic and A Huevo.

“They were both undefeated last year, so there was no reason to try and separate them,” Runco said of the dead-heat for horse of the year honors among his two top trainees. “Neither one of them ever did anything wrong. They both won every start last year and both won multiple stakes, so splitting them would have been difficult and they both really deserved the recognition.”

Star of Night kicked off her 2022 campaign by running second as the odds-on choice in the Original Gold Stakes, ending a nine-race win streak dating back to her sophomore season. But she came back to win an allowance race in her next outing and appeared to be on target for another good summer and fall campaign beginning with the Sadie Hawkins and then continuing through the Cavada and My Sister Pearl.

“She would have probably gone in the Sadie Hawkins next week, then the Cavada,” Runco said. “She had a great career. But, we just thought it was the right time to stop with her. She’s always had some little aches and pains. But she’s always just been a tremendous racehorse. Now, she can start her second career and maybe have some babies that will carry on her legacy in a few years.”