11/03/2011 11:05AM

Charles Town: Navy Chapel steps up in Tri-State Futurity


Navy Chapel, unbeaten in three starts against 2-year-old West Virginia-bred fillies, stretches out beyond 4 1/2 furlongs and challenges males in Saturday night’s $100,000 Tri-State Futurity at Charles Town.

Jeff Runco, whose 95 wins are more than twice as many as his closest rival in the Charles Town trainer standings, is asking Navy Chapel to negotiate two turns and seven furlongs for the first time. Navy Chapel will also face a group of five statebred males and two other fillies, including Paco Smart, a smashing winner of the 6 1/2-furlong Vince Moscarelli Memorial on the West Virginia Breeders’ Classic card three weeks ago.

A homebred daughter of Chapel Royal owned and bred by Runco’s Coleswood Farm in conjunction with partner Neil Glasser, Navy Chapel has toyed with her female competition in her two most recent races, winning the Rachel’s Turn and Triple Crown Nutrition by a combined margin of 10 lengths.

Runco is familiar with asking 2-year-old fillies to tackle colts and geldings. In 2007, he won the Tri-State Futurity with Saxet Heights, a filly who came into the race off a win in her career debut against maidens. In addition, Runco has had success with 2-year-olds seeking a repeat win in races at Charles Town between 6 1/2 and seven furlongs. His record in those situations the last five years is 4 for 7 (57 percent).

Paco Smart has the advantage of an inside draw (post 2) and proven success going around two turns on the bullring. Since adding Lasix for his second career start, Paco Smart is a neck shy of owning three consecutive victories. He is assigned 124 pounds, just one more than the filly Navy Chapel.

On the downside, Paco Smart’s trainer, Raimondo Schiano-Dicola, is 2 for 32 with horses looking for back-to-back victories in races contested between 6 1/2 and seven furlongs.

The field also includes Coleman Barricks, third behind Paco Smart in the Moscarelli; Figpenn, who finished less than a length behind Paco Smart two starts ago and was a troubled fifth in the Moscarelli; and Pagan Jewel, a filly who rallied to get second behind Navy Chapel last time out despite getting shut off coming around the turn of the 4 1/2-furlong Triple Crown Nutrition.