08/27/2008 12:00AM

Confucius Say confounds conventional wisdom


Confucius Say continues to defy Father Time.

A 10-year-old gelding who launched a comeback two seasons ago after missing nearly 3 1/2 years with assorted ailments, Confucius Say tuned up for a possible start in this fall's $500,000 West Virginia Breeders Classic by cruising to a wire-to-wire 3 1/2-length victory in Saturday night's $50,000 Frank Gall Memorial Handicap at Charles Town.

Making his first start since November, Confucius Say ($7.20) defeated six West Virginia-bred opponents, including Eastern Delite, the first-place finisher in last fall's Classic; defending Gall champion Donald's Pride; and Gold Standard, the 8-5 favorite, who was riding a five-race winning streak.

Confucius Say ran seven furlongs in 1:25.17 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 95.

Trainer George Yetsook said Confucius Say came out of the race in fine shape and will have one more tune-up, the seven-furlong, $50,000 Robert Hilton Memorial on Sept. 20, before tackling the 1 1/8-mile Classic on Oct. 18.

"Physically, he's as good as he's ever been," Yetsook said of Confucius Say, who has won 17 of 38 starts and $845,638. "He doesn't act like a 10-year-old. He trains willingly."

Yetsook credits a switch in his training methods to keeping Confucius Say sharp.

"I'm taking a little different approach with him, training at the racetrack instead of at a private farm," Yetsook said. "For the first time, I turned him out last fall for five months. He really needed it mentally."

Confucius Say won the West Virginia Breeders Classic in 2001 and 2002, then finished second last October in his bid to become the first horse ever to win Charles Town's biggest race three times.

Confucius Say may still be awarded that victory. Late last November, the Charles Town stewards disqualified winner Eastern Delite for a positive test for caffeine, a stimulant considered a Class 2 drug, and ordered the purse redistributed. That decision was upheld by the West Virginia State Racing Commission on June 17. Eastern Delite's connections, however, have now appealed to West Virginia's Circuit Court of Jefferson County, seeking to overturn the verdict.

If Confucius Say is awarded the extra money he would receive for being elevated from second to first in the 2007 Breeders Classic, he would be less than $5,000 from $1 million for his career.

Yetsook also plans to point his 5-year-old mare Julie B to the West Virginia Breeders Classic card, where she will try to win the $500,000 Cavada for the second time in three years.

Julie B most recently finished fifth after bearing out badly at the start of the $51,500 Sadie Hawkins on Aug. 16.

"She broke to her right coming out of the 10 hole and must have fallen 18 lengths out of it," Yetsook said. "Then she got behind a wall of horses coming wide into the stretch and still got beat less than three lengths. If she's only seven or eight lengths back down the backstretch, she wins that race by five lengths. I'm confident she's as good as ever."

Julie B will prep for the Cavada in the seven-furlong, $50,000 Roger Van Hoozer Memorial on Sept. 20.

Copper Line a cut above

Copper Line looks like the standout among three recent maiden winners entered in Friday night's $50,000 Henry Mercer Memorial Stakes for 2-year-old West Virginia-bred colts and geldings at Charles Town.

The 4 1/2-furlong sprint, which will go as race 8 on the card, drew a field of nine, none of whom has won more than one lifetime race.

Based at Laurel Park with trainer Gary Capuano, Copper Line shipped to Charles Town for his career debut on July 25, sat second behind pacesetter Rebel Challenger, and drew off to win by three lengths.

Rebel Challenger, who is also in the Mercer lineup, came back to win his maiden by 2 1/4 lengths in wire-to-wire fashion.

I'm Fuhr Real, unable to win in two slowly run maiden races going 4 1/2 furlongs, improved dramatically when stretched out to 6 1/2 furlongs last time out, on Aug. 8. On the plus side, he defeated open company. But his trainer, John McKee, is 0 for 13 with 2-year-olds returning off a win, according to DRF Formulator.

Adam's Intro and Fuzzy Kokanut have been given some time off following their maiden victories.

Adam's Intro won his career debut locally in late May for Laurel-based trainer Tim Salzman, who is winning at a 28 percent rate with the horses he has shipped into Charles Town this season. Salzman is also 6 for 25 (24 percent) with 2-year-olds returning following a layoff of 61 to 180 days.

Fuzzy Kokanut hasn't raced since getting up by a nose in a two-furlong dash at Penn National on June 5. His trainer, Clovis Crane, is only 1 for 27 this season at Charles Town and 1 for 6 with 2-year-olds returning from an extended layoff.