Muad’dib, other Runco runners gearing up for ’24

While it is hardly uncommon to see trainer Jeff Runco win multiple races on weeknights at Charles Town where he is among the track’s perennial leading trainers, it might have caught onlookers a little by surprise last week to see him win a trio of races with horses that typically hit their stride in the summer and fall.

February 7 Runco sent out both Muad’dib and Social Chic to victories in two-turn allowance races, and one night later he saddled Duncan Idaho, the younger, full-brother to Muad’dib, to capture a one-turn allowance dash. Runco hinted that both Muad’dib and Social Chic will likely target the $75,000 Confucius Say Stakes for state-bred older runners April 20 before eyeing similar spots in the summer and fall.

“Muad’dib is doing really good,” Runco said of the seven-year-old Fiber Sonde and two-time West Virginia-bred horse of the year. “He needed a little time off after last year but he came back great. I think he can get in one more start up here before the Confucius Say, but we’ll see.”

Muad’dib prevailed in his season debut by getting the 6 1/2-furlongs in 1:19.60. He now boasts 15 wins and over $915,000 banked from 21 career outings for owner David Raim, including a pair of victories in the Sam Huff West Virginia Breeders’ Classic and second- and fourth-place finishes in the Grade 2, $1 million Charles Town Classic.

Earlier on that same card, six-year-old Social Chic edged Overly Critical for a length score in another two-turn allowance for older runners. A multiple stakes winner with 11 wins and nearly $385,000 banked from 28 career tries, Social Chic is also being pointed toward the Confucius Say – he was third in that event last spring – and likely another busy campaign with the summer and fall stakes on tap.

“He came out of that first race pretty good and seemed to be a little sharper at the break this time,” Runco said. “He’s been good for his whole career. He’s one of those horses that always seems to be a little below the spotlight, but he’s had a good career. I think we’ll try to find another race for him up here next month before the stakes. But it’s tough getting races to fill right now.”


As a three-year-old, Social Chic won the Robert G. Leavitt Stakes and the West Virginia Lottery Breeders’ Classic. He hasn’t won a stake since but has been stakes-placed six additional times, including three runner-up finishes last year. Runco trains him for Smart Angle LLP.

Muad’dib kicked off 2024 with a win at Charles Town Feb. 7. Photo by Coady Photography.

One night later Runco sent out the Raim-owned Duncan Idaho to a gritty score in a one-turn allowance for older in his seasonal debut. A four-year-old Fiber Sonde gelding and younger full-brother to Muad’dib, Duncan Idaho now owns seven wins and over $130,000 banked from 11 career outings for Raim.

While Muad’dib, Social Chic and Duncan Idaho have all recorded their first wins of the season, Runco’s top trainee, Coastal Mission, gave onlookers the first hint that his campaign is about to commence.

A winner eight times in 10 starts last year and 11 times in 17 career outings for Runco, who also owns and bred the full-brother to his former trainee Lewisfield, Coastal Mission concluded his 2023 season with a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Cigar Mile.

He has posted two works thus far in February. He breezed a half-mile in 48.60 on Feb. 8 in his first published work this winter and then five furlongs in 1:01 flat Feb. 20. Early season offerings like the Grade 3 General George are now in the rearview mirror, but there are plenty of races up ahead for the five-year-old Great Notion gelding.

“He’s doing really good,” Runco said. “He worked really well [Feb. 8]. I was happy to see him get over the track as good as he did and he came back great. That [General George] was just a little took close. But there’s a stakes at Laurel next month [Not For Love] that we’re considering and then we’ll probably go in the Confucius Say.”