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April 17, 2012     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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April 17, 2012
 

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~pil~it of JEFFERSON and FARMER'S ADVOCATE Racing/Sports Wednesday, April.18, 2012 g s to Ri S BOB MADISON Spirit Staff ' There was a seven-horse field that filed its way into the start- ing gate for the 2007 Belmont Stakes. The muscular chestnut, Curlin, was the even-money fa- vorite. The comely chestnut filly, Rage to Riches. was the No. 7. She was sent against the colts by trainer Todd Pletchert.He was m search of the first BelCnont Stakes win by a fdly in 102 years. The day was in the early eve- ning. It had been filling with thickening clouds and old-tim- ers who had grown up on farms could smell the coming rain. The large crowd seemed un- concerned by possible rain that might hit them broadside before the long race could be complet- ed. Hundreds of bodies pressed against the low-slung chainiink fence that kept them away from the racing surface. The weath- .er wasn't among the thoughts they had about Curlin or Rags to Riches or Hard Spun. . When all the horses were stand- ing evenly in the starting gate, there was no ram.., and only the tension created by the seconds that come just before the thorough- breds are loosed from their little enclosures and spring to the task. While the other six horses were Out and already searching for po- sition in the mile-and-a-half en- durance test, Rags to Riches had stumbled in the first few yards and touched her nose to the man- icured surface. She didn't fall. She didn't unseat jockey Garrett Gomez. In fact, she recovered in an instant and was seeking her own challenging position along the backside as the race went more than a half-mile. The smooth transition from nose full of dirt to moving along crisply only four lengths off the lead had been so clean and un- troubled that the earlier stumble seemed to have never happened. The lithe chestnut went four- wide on the final turn to over- take the previous leaders. She was clearly the leader just yards into the long stretch. And then came Curlin. the model of horse flesh that looked like an unstop- pable locomotive engine draped in chestnut-colored clothing. Curlin caught Rags to Riches. He was a foot in front still a meaningful distance from the wire. That lead of a foot was only shortlived. Rags to Riches went ahead again. And she stayed. For 50 yards. For 100 yards, For 150 yards. For 200 yards. 'Til the two rust-colored chestnuts went past the finish line. History had been revisited. But it had taken 102 years--or since 1905--to find the year when an- other filly had won the often tor- tuous Belmont Stakes. That 2007 Belmont was only the sixth race of Rags to Riches life. And she had beaten the boys! Before she had ever run a race. she was so well-bred and had so many of thoroughbred racing's stars in her genealogy that it had taken a $1.9 million bid by Michael Tabor and Der- rick Smith to win her at auction at the September 2005 Keenel- and Sales. She had A. R lndy as her fa- ther: And Seattle Slew as her grandfather. Secretariat was her great-grandfather and just before him came Bold Ruler, Northern Dancer, Buckpasser, and Bold- nesian. Twenty-four k at gold. Twenty-four karat lineage. Twenty-four karat bloodlines. Before the Belmont Stakes had come successes in the Las Virgenes Stakes, in the San- ta Anita Oaks, in the Kentucky Oaks. Trainer Pletcher had his ful- ly visible reasons for having Rags to Riches in the Belmont Stakes. In her five career races, she had been first in four of them. However, she had never run against males at any time. These other horses in the Bel- mont Stakes were all colts. And there she was, four-wide on the final turn. And being washed in applause in the win- ner's circle after edging Curlin. She didn't race again until the Sept. 15 Gazelle Stakes. After the second-place in the Gazelle, she was retired. Aleg injury was found in the aftermath of the Ga- zelle, and She was removed from training. There had been an inju- ry after her first race and she had made a successful recovery from that trouble. Early in 2008, her training was resumed, but then in late March, Fletcher told of her re- tirement due to another injury tO the same leg. The startling Rags to Riches had raced only seven times in her two years. The wins had numbered five. And the earn- lngs were $1,340,028. It is likely she will always be remembered for her win in the 2007 Belmont Stakes. Cur- lin vs. the Little Chestnut Lady. And Rags to Riches held off the barrel-chested Curlin. MORGANTOWN-- Pat For- sythe, the 6-foot-ll freshman from Brunswick, Ohio who miss'ed all but seven of WVU's 33 games this past basketball season will a leg injury, has been granted another year of el- igibility. Forsythe had a 2.1 points a game average and a 3.4 re- bounds per game average in the few games he played. He missed the last few months of the 2011- 12 season with a stress fracture in his right ankle. Forsythe will be a freshman in eligibility next season and have four more seasons he can play. TED BLACK Special to the Spirit While the first two runnings of the Charles Town Classic may have offered a serious local flavor with Researcher winning for then-trainer Jeff Runco and last year's edition marked the first time the race or any race at the historic oval had ever been graded, last Saturday night's fourth running of the $1 million Charles Town Classic marked the first time the race had ever carried Grade II status. Each year there are rough- ly 120 Grade I-races through- out the United States and near- ly twice as many Grade II rac- es. but those events are still few and far between. Charles Town went over 75 years before being awarded a Graded race of any kind and this year's edition of the Grade II Charles Town Clas- sic meant the race has already reached upper echelon status. It may not get elevated to a Grade I event anytime soon, but the simple fact that the race is now a Grade II affair still seems re- markable. Once again the feature race on a card that offered nearly $2 mil- lion in total purses - a figure that dwarfed the purse account for the entire year before slots ar- rived - the Charles Town Clas- sic took center stage among the large gathering and was high- lighted by live coverage of the Television Games Network, whose racing analysts Simon Bray and Tom Cassidy were on hand and asked to sign auto- graphs by local fans afterward. While the race did not offer a serious local flavor and the three horses-- Game On Dude, Accla- mation and Tizway--who were on hand for the 20i 1 edition and were the top three finalists for the Eclipse Award for champion older male last year--were else- where, the race did attract de- fending champion Duke of Mis- chief. While Game On Dude, Acclamation and Tizway each earned Grade I victories after competing in last year's Classic, Duke of Mischief had gone win- less in six starts since then and was overlooked at 12-1 in his return outing as the defending champ. Tackleberry, a multiple Grad- ed stakes winner who settled for fourth in last year's talent- rich edition of the Classic, was the 9-5 favorite while California invader Uh Oh Bango was the second choice and 2011 Ken- tucky Derby and Preakness par- ticipant Pants On Fire was the third choice. But for the fourth straight year the Classic pro- duced an upset, although de- fending champion Duke of Mis- chief perhaps delivered an effort worthy of victory. Through the early stages of the nine-furlong affair, Pants On Fire and Skipshot vied for ear- ly command and Tres Borrachos raced three-wide to prompt that pan:. As he had done last year, Duke of Mischief bided his time through the first haft-mile then launched a serious three-wide bid down the backside to gain command and only Caixa Elec- tronica could stay with him. Duke of Mischief swept to command on the far turn, but Caixa Electronica followed his every move and then took dead aim on the defending Clas- sic champion turning for home. Duke of Mischief was under se- rious urging in the final furlong, but Caixa Electronica, consid- ered by many a one-turn spe- cialist and perhaps one of trainer Todd Pletcher's second string- ers, responded to the commands of jockey Javier Castellano and drew clear late to a two-length score in 1:50.28. His winning clocking was solid, but roughly one-half second above the track record set by Researcher. Caixa Electronica posted his second win in four starts this year and pushed his season- al earnings past $650,000. He now owns a 17-7-11 slate and $1.1 million bankroll from 52 lifetime starts. Castellano took a private plane from Keeneland to Martinsburg and made it in plenty of time for the race, but neither Pletcher or owner Mike Repole were on hand. Duke of Mischief was game in defeat under jockey Joe Bravo while suffering his sixth straight de- feat since taking last year's Classic, Gemologist FROM PAGE C1 isn't likely to be diminished any vith the emergence of the likely Kentucky Derby favorite, Gem- ologist. A thoroughbred farm tour , gljide routinely gives his bus load of tourists the information that at the height of the breeding season WinStar stallions can bring in $6 million a day to their owners. Gemologist is owned by Win- Star... ah, the rich get richer. Even after he had whirled his way to four wins in his first four lifetime races, Gemologist and trainer Todd Fletcher didn't have the necessary graded stakes win- nings to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. His only win in any sort bf graded stakes had come in 2011 Kentucky Jockey Club Slakes last November. ~i:Trainer Pletcher had decid- eO to open Gemologist's 2012 gehedule with an allowance race Florida. Even though that was a:seven-length win for Pletch- and jockey Javier Castella- it did nothing to enhance the $t03,855 the huge (17 hands Wood Memorial was a $1 mil: lion race where the winner would get $600,000 and the runner-up would gain $200.000. Either of those dollar amounts would give the mammoth son of Tiznow the needed graded stakes money to put him in the Kentucky Derby field of 20 entries. When Pletcher boosted Castel- lano's into the irons, Gemologist was the 6-5 favorite in the eight- horse Wood Memorial grouping. Also in the Wood Memorial field looming as possible entries in this year's Derby were Alpha (second- favorite at 5-2) and undefeated stakes winner The Lumber Guy. The Wood Memorial is run at 1 1/8 miles, a full eighth-of-a-mile shorter than the Kentucky Der- by. Should Gemologist have fallen short of at least a third-place finish, he wOuld not have enough earn- ings to be included in the some- times untractable 20-horse field that is the Run for the Roses. Castellano was able to get the graceful giant out of the starting gate with a quick burst of early speed. That twosome settled into third place and had no interfer- ence from others on the outside. As the late track announcer 01)igh and already 1.300 pounds) Costy Caras and other race call- ii ioroughbred had gained in grad2 ers might have surmised, they 'eit stakes earnings, were in "the. perfect stalking po- ::Gemologist had a Pletcher- sition" or in the "catbird seat." ~ritten schedule that had him go Near the last yards of the final fi~ the Grade I, Wood Memorial turn, Gemologist forced his way at Aqueduct in New York. The to the lead in a matter of yards [ BEAT THE EAT! / Only *79700 19 x 31 x 4 Includes: and without using much energy or effort. Alpha had been coming toward the front in much the same man- ner. Gemologist seemed to look around for any competition. He found it in Alpha, then at his side. Castellano rallied Gemologist and the long-strid'mg colt held off his competition by a neck, taking the $600,000 first-place money, and giving WinStar rea- son to get fully prepared for go: ing to Louisville for the first Sat- urday in May. When asked why he took such a chance by skipping an earlier graded stakes race and "deciding on an allowance event instead, Pletcher said: "A lot of it had to do with timing. He' was not ready for the Tampa Bay Derby the week before. I wanted one more work. "The races that were suited for that weekend were the Rebel Stakes at Oaldawn Park or the allowance race. We did not want to wait any longer to get his fwst start in. But when the allowance race came up, it gave us a better option." Without the necessary graded stakes.earnings, Pletcher was ac- tually painted into a comer when it came down to the Wood Me- morial. There was little room for error. In-race trouble would have cost him his place in the Kentucky Derby. And WinStar doesn't want to miss any of the Triple Crown jewels. Even with the bleached-white Hansen and Union Rags in the probable Kentucky Derby field, the pre-race scuttlebutt has Gem- ologist as the race's betting fa- vorite. "The rich get richer." WinStar is currently the gold standard of thoroughbred racing. And plac- ing another lot of hardware in the same comer as that already won by Super Saver and Funny Cide would make the people outside the stout iron fence surround- ing the many-acred property of WinStar just a little poorer than those inside the windows of the stained-glass barns that look like fortresses of racing power and influence. Wednesday April 18-High School Softball-Washington at Hedgesville-Airtime at 7:00pm Wednesday April 18-Baltimore Orioles at Chicago White Sox-AirUme right after High School Game Thursday April 19-Baltimore Orioles at Chicago White Sox-AirUme at 1:42pro Thursday April 19-1-1igh School Baseball-Jefferson at Hedgesville-Airtime at 7:00pm Friday April 20-High School BasebalI-Musselman at Martinsburg-Airtime at 7:00pro Friday April 20-Baltimore Orioles at LA Angels-Airtime at 9:37pm Saturday April 21 -Baltimore Orioles at LA Angels-Airtime at 8:37pm Sunday April 22-Baltimore Orioles at LA Angles-Airtime at 3:07pm Monday April 23-High School Softball-Hampshire at Jefferson-Airtime at 7:00pro Tuesday April 24-High School SoftbalI-Musselman at Hedgesville-Airtime at 7:00pro Tuesday April 24-Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles-Airtime right after High School Softball I:mten online at WEPM.com.Look us up on facebook at facebook.com/1340wepm and follow us on twiffer @WEPMSporls sponsqrs the... About, our mult,iple pet, disc0unt,s! Jiggy is an adult male Terrier. He is gray with a spot of white in color, neutered, current on all vaccinations and ready to go to his new home. To visit him or any of the other 75 wonderful dogs and cats waiting for homes, please visit the Animal Wel-,, fare Society shelter on Old Leetown Pike Road (just west of the county fairgrounds). Our public hours are 11 am to 4 pm Wednesday through Saturday. Visit our web sitewww. awsjc.org, Facebook, or call us at 304-725-0589. t t 1 I 1