10/24/2003 12:00AM

Cape Power gives Mullins first Classic


Slightly more than a year after fracturing an ankle that nearly ended his career, 4-year-old Cape Power won the $250,000 West Virginia Breeders' Classic Stakes Oct. 11 at Charles Town.

Trained by Tim Grams, Cape Power provided owner-breeder Tex Mullins, who has been breeding horses in the state since the inception of the West Virginia Development Fund in the early 1980's, with the biggest win of his career.

"We were lucky to get him back," said Mullins, who always thought that Cape Power had considerable talent. A son of the late West Virginia stallion Feel the Power, Cape Power is a full brother to another stakes winner bred and campaigned by Mullins, the filly Shes a Caper Too, a winner of 12 races, including Charles Town's $75,000 Shenandoah Valley Handicap as a 7-year-old in 2000, and an earner of $291,089.

Shes a Caper Too raced from May 1996 to November 2002, and Mullins never made her eligible for the Breeders' Classics.

"The track was about ready to close, so what was she going to be eligible for?" recalls Mullins of the pre-slots era at Charles Town.

Last year, Mullins finally had a solid prospect for West Virginia's showcase day.

Cape Power showed promise at 2, finishing first or second in both his starts, and hammered it out in allowance company through the first half of his 3-year-old season. Prepping for last year's 3-year-old Breeders' Classic race, Cape Power stopped badly, which is when Mullins suspects the injury occurred.

Given six months off at Mullins's 27-acre farm in Charles Town, Cape Power returned to training and made his first start of this year in May. Just as his sister got better with age, Cape Power came back stronger than ever. He won or was second in six of his seven starts leading up to the Breeders' Classics, including a victory in the Robert R. Hilton Memorial Stakes, nearly a year to the day of his injury. Sent off as the favorite in the 10-horse field in the West Virginia Breeders' Classic Stakes, Cape Power ran as expected.

"He likes to lay back and come on," said Mullins.

ape Power drew off to win the 1 1/8-mile race by 2 3/4 lengths over Creative's Dream. The winner's share of the purse was $112,500, which boosted Cape Power's career total to $217,550.

"He is still sound, but he may not run any more this year," said Mullins.

Mullins still owns Cape Power's dam, Raleigh's Cape, whom he purchased as a 3-year-old from breeder Bayard Sharp. Now 20, Raleigh's Cape (by Clever Trick out of Misty Moisty), has not had a foal since being stricken by what was diagnosed as Potomac fever in 2001. "She looks healthy, but just can't get in foal," said Mullins. Shes a Caper Too is in foal for the first time, to the cover of Allen's Prospect.

With his mares having breeding problems, Mullins has not had any foals the past two years, but expects four next spring. Three of his mares are in foal to Copelan Too, a graded-stakes-placed son of Copelan claimed by Mullins.

Undefeated at 2, Copelan Too was second to champion sprinter Reraise in the Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Sprint Stakes. Copelan Too retired with earnings of $132,921. The 8-year-old Copelan Too, out of Patooie, by Strike Gold, stands for private contract.