CT: Stryda’s win in Autumn Stakes will leave a mark

Not long after Stryda forged a mild upset as the 5-1 third choice in the $75,000 Autumn Stakes for West Virginia-bred fillies and mares Friday night, trainer Jamey Johnson remarked that he already had several plans pending.

Stryda, a sophomore daughter of Great Notion that Johnson trains for owner FTF Racing LLC, notched her third straight win and fifth win in 10 career outings by getting the 4 1/2 furlongs in 51.55. She also gave Johnson his first stakes tally as a trainer, an occasion which will make its mark on the trainer – literally.

“I thought I was going to get it with Royal Pain,” Johnson said of his potential first stakes tally. “But that’s the plan now, to get Stryda tattooed across my back. She’s a really quick filly. When she broke and [favored Great Spirit] didn’t, I knew that she had it. The race was over going into the far turn. Once she shook off that one speed horse [Tiz The Reason], I knew she had it.”

Stryda had won her two previous outings against allowance company with rider Reshawn Latchman aboard. But Latchman landed on Silky Serena in the Autumn; that runner won three stakes last season, including the inaugural Blue & Gold Stakes added as the WVBC finale. As a result, Antonio Lopez climbed back aboard Stryda and guided her to a sharp tally. Next stop, said Johnson, would likely be the Blue & Gold Stakes on the WVBC card in six weeks.

The Autumn was one of a quartet of stakes for West Virginia-bred runners on the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic undercard. They likely will produce a bevy of runners for West Virginia Breeders’ Classics night.

One race prior to the Autumn, Jefferson Native (Javier Rivera) forged a genuine 12-1 surprise in the $75,000 Last Enchantment Stakes for West Virginia-breds. He gained command soon after the break, led through wicked early fractions, and held off favored Little Roo Roo by a half-length, with the venerable Penguin Power finishing third. A four-year-old son of Officer Rocket trained by Linda Dollinger-Stehr for owner T. W. Stables (Tony Stehr), Jefferson Native recorded his second win from six starts this year and now sports a 5-3-1 slate and over $180,000 banked from 18 career tries after getting the 4 1/2 furlongs in 51.55.


“I was not expecting that,” said Dollinger-Stehr, who watched the race from her normal position as an outrider and joined her top trainee in the winners’ circle while still on horseback. “There were a lot of fast horses in there. I was [a longshot]. I really wasn’t expecting that.”

Then immediately following the Grade 2, $1 million Charles Town Classic the upsets in state-bred events continued when Lucky Blonde (Christian Hiraldo) rallied from well off the pace to capture the $75,000 Sadie Hawkins Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares. A sophomore daughter of Madefromlucky trained by Tim Grams for his and wife Judy’s Grams Racing Stable, Lucky Blonde recorded her third win from nine seasonal outings and now owns a 4-3-1 slate and over $150,000 banked from 15 career outings.

Stryda won the Autumn. Photo Allison Janezic.

“There was so much speed in the race, I thought it would set up good for this filly,” Grams said. “When they went 22 and change and 46 change, I knew she was going to be able to come and get them at the end. I think I’ll probably have to take a shot at the Cavada now. She could go in that three-year-old filly race, but she was so good tonight I think I have to take a shot at the big one with her and put Maggie’s Girl in the straight three-year-old filly race.”

In the Friday finale, No Change (Marshall Mendez) rallied from well off the pace and widest of all to overhaul favored Social Chic late for a two-length score as the 2-1 second choice. A five-year-old Fiber Sonde gelding owned and trained by Cynthia McKee, No Change notched his second win from six starts this year and now owns a commendable 13-7-4 slate and over $400,000 banked from 32 career outings after getting the seven furlongs in 1:25.42.

“When I saw him make his move going into the far turn, I was hoping he could catch Social Chic,” McKee said. “When he came into the lane with plenty of momentum, I thought he had a good chance to win. He’s been running in open allowance company lately, so it was good to get him back in with state-breds. He’s definitely going in the Onion Juice [Breeders’ Classic] next. He doesn’t really want to go more than seven furlongs.”

One other West Virginia-bred of note impressed – but not in state-bred company. The Jeff Runco-trained Coastal Mission won the $250,000 Russell Road for older runners by nearly three lengths under Arnaldo Bocachica. The four-year-old Great Notion gelding now has five straight wins, is nine-for-10 on his home track, and has won 10 of 15 starts overall, with over $430,000 in purse earnings.