10/17/2002 11:00PM

'Breeders Classics: Large fields and powerful statebreds


West Virginia native Sam Huff, along with partner Carol Holden, has seen his vision of a day celebrating West Virginia racing blossom. The West Virginia Breeders Classics, which were inspired by Huff and Holden's visit to the first Maryland Million in 1986, had its 16th renewal on Oct. 12 at Charles Town with a record-equaling $850,000 in total purses offered for the eight-race card. This year's Breeders Classics attracted 68 runners and all eight races were won by West Virginia-breds.

"Other than the rain, this year's running of the Classics was one of the best yet," said Huff of the event, which is restricted to West Virginia-bred or -sired horses nominated to the program. A pro football Hall of Famer, Huff was mightily impressed with Confucius Say, the repeat winner of the evening's feature race, the $250,000 West Virginia Breeders Classic Stakes.

Confucius Say, the 1-5 favorite in the field of eight, rolled home by nearly 12 lengths over Social Mix in the 1 1/8-mile Classic in 1:50.93, just off the track record. The horse is owned by O'Sullivan Farms.

With the $112,500 winner's share of the purse, Confucius Say pushed his earnings to $527,897 from 12 wins, 5 seconds, and 4 thirds in 23 starts.

Confucius Say is by Eastover Court, a son of Seattle Slew out of champion Heavenly Cause, who now stands at O'Sullivan Farms after launching his stud career in Maryland. O'Sullivan Farms, one of West Virginia's oldest breeding farms, was established in the 1940's by Ruth Funkhouser and her then-husband, the late Justin Funkhouser. Ruth and her son Randy continue to operate O'Sullivan Farms, located just outside of Charles Town.

Confucius Say was one of four homebred winners on this year's Classics card.

Another was repeat winner Turbotaxman, a 5-year-old Entropy gelding who successfully defended his title in the seven-furlong $75,000 West Virginia Onion Juice Breeders Classic for older males. Turbotaxman and his stakes-placed dam, Bimbalina, were bred by Sally Baffa, and Turbotaxman races in the name of her husband, John Baffa. "Turbo doesn't like the mud, so we were absolutely speechless when he won," said Sally Baffa.

Henry Schneider Jr.'s homebred Adams Tribe took this year's West Virginia Lottery Breeders Classic Stakes for 3-year-olds after having won the 2-year-old race a year ago. A son of Breeders Classics leading sire My Boy Adam, out of Lucky Tribe, a stakes-winning daughter of another West Virginia leading sire, Weshaam, Adams Tribe pushed his record to 7 wins and 5 seconds in 14 starts with the four-length score.

Naomi Long bred and owns Sweet Music, winner of the second richest race of the evening, the $150,000 B B & T Cavada West Virginia Breeders Classic Stakes. A 4-year-old daughter of Melodisk out of Susies Spyder (by Salutely), Sweet Music gained the lead in deep stretch in the seven-furlong event and held off the fast-closing defending champion Longfield Star to win by three-quarters of a length. It was the second stakes win for Sweet Music, who won her maiden while winning the Breeders Classic Stakes for juvenile fillies two years ago.

Doubledar Diamond, a son of Sprizzo who became his sire's first stakes winner when he took last year's United Tote Dash for Cash Breeders Classic, repeated in this year's renewal, holding off Not for Sam by a neck, with Bandi's Boy third in a thrilling three-horse photo finish. Seven-year-old Doubledar Diamond was bred by Lewis P. Close, who stands Sprizzo at Diamond C Stables in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Owner Kenneth Pitta had a good shot at winning a Breeders Classic race last year with Sweet Annuity, but fell short. This year, his odds-on favorite Shesanothergrump followed through, winning the $75,000 West Virginia Division of Tourism Breeders Classic Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by two lengths. Shesanothergrump, by Weshaam out of Roberta Grump, by Verification, was bred by Robert Lloyd.

The two juvenile races were taken by Maryland-owned runners. Forever Joe, a son of Demidoff bred by John Jones, is now owned by Costas Triantafilos and trainer Dale Capuano's C & T Stable. The second choice in the eight-horse field, Forever Joe galloped to a 6 3/4-length victory.

X Tra Brassy, bred by Harold Houchens, remained undefeated with her neck victory at 1-5 over Hushaby Babe. Purchased as a weanling by Brenda Godfrey, who stands her sire, Pana Brass, in Maryland, X Tra Brassy has won $64,470 in three starts.

Missing from the winner's circle this year were Jim Casey and his family, who have been a dominant force in Classics past. However, Casey's stallions My Boy Adam and Weshaam, who stand at Taylor Mountain Farm in Charles Town, were each represented by a winner.