Penguin Power hunts 20th win in It’s Only Money

Penguin Power
Penguin Power won the 2023 West Virginia Dash for Cash Breeders Classic. Photo by Coady Photography.

Saturday’s $75,000 It’s Only Money Stakes features an experienced 10-horse field along with four also eligible runners going 4 ½ furlongs. Of the main entries, every runner has double digit starts under their belt, with two reaching the gate over 20 times and four others over 30. In a race for West Virginia breds three years old and up, these older boys look to add another Charles Town sprint victory to their already extensive resumes.  

While not starting as the morning line top choice, it would be difficult to mention any runner before the nine-year-old Penguin Power (5-1). In what will be his 40th race, this Jeff Runco trainee has won in nearly half of his career starts, with all wins over this track. Penguin Power has turned into a distance specialist much like the others in this group, competing in eight straight at 4 ½ with solid results. He has been in the money in all of those tries, but was beaten by returning rivals Little Roo Roo and Golden Key in this race last year and has yet to win this season. 

Penguin Power will need to show that his best racing isn’t behind him, as he still has the ability to show up in big races, winning on West Virginia Breeders’ Classics night for the last five years. Wesley Ho will ride.

Penguin Power figures to sit right off of the leaders, headlined by morning line favorite Duncan Idaho (7-2) and the inside-breaking Honeyquist (4-1). Duncan Idaho, also trained by Runco, has run his best when he captures the early lead, winning five of his last six all at this distance and all as gate to wire scores. One of the three Runco trainees, Duncan Idaho appears to have the most speed of this field and keeps Arnaldo Bocachica in the irons. 

He does step up in class, but recently toppled Penguin Power last time out and has the tactical advantage over this group with a sharp break.

Honeyquist may not possess quite the same early speed as Duncan Idaho, but he has never finished worse than second at this distance and always breaks sharply in this company. This Wayne Catalano trainee should be on or near the lead with possibly the best back class here. The most lightly raced of the main entries with “just” 11 starts, Honeyquist has already earned over $160,000, nearly recouping his original price tag of $170,000. 

He ships in from a three-quarter length win at Horseshoe Indianapolis, now with new jockey Reshawn Latchman up. 

Little Roo Roo (6-1) also enters with stakes experience at Charles Town. Little Roo Roo, for trainer Michael E. Jones Jr., has won half of his 16 starts, typically in convincing fashion. With all of his wins coming last year, Little Roo Roo looks to return to form, even with his best races at slightly longer distance.

Marshall Mendez will ride.

The others finishing the group are Linda Dollinger-Stehr’s Jefferson Native (12-1), Donald Barber’s Derby Day Dreams (8-1), Javier Contreras’ Nico (6-1), and Marshall Campbell’s El Lucerito (15-1). Drawing in off the also-eligible list are the Michael Atkins-trained Marshall Peanut (12-1) and Pork Chop Pete (10-1), also for Contreras.

Scratched are Amidships and Golden Key, along with AEs Gold Fiber and Irish Wizard.

The It’s Only Money Stakes is the seventh of eight races on Charles Town’s Saturday card with a projected off time of 10:02 PM EDT. Post time for the card is 7:00 p.m.