01/23/2002 1:00AM

Confucius Say year's best at Charles Town

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Confucius Say, who won five races and more than $250,000 as a 3-year-old, has been chosen Horse of the Year for 2001 at Charles Town.

Owned by O'Sullivan Farms and trained by George Yetsook, Confucius Say accumulated more than half his bankroll with a runaway victory in the $250,000 West Virginia Breeders Classic on Oct. 13.

He might have influenced voters the most, however, when he finished a half-length ahead of Big Becker in the $75,000 Strike the Gold Handicap three months earlier. Big Becker, who won three stakes during a five-race winning streak early in the year, finished a close second to Confucius Say in the balloting.

Confucius Say earned five first-place votes and 29 points overall from a six-member committee that cast votes on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis. Big Becker received one first-place vote and 24 points to finish a clear second. Vanna Go (14), Forever in Love (10), and Elise's Notebook (6) rounded out the top five.

In six starts at Charles Town last year, Confucius Say won five times at distances from 4 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. Larry Reynolds rode him to all five wins.

Confucius Say is the third West Virginia-bred to be earn Horse of the Year honors at Charles Town since the award began in 1997. Dinner Dancer (1998) and Its Binn Too Long (1999) had won the award previously.