08/18/2015 12:25PM

Gall victory puts Lucy’s Bob Boy on top – for now

Coady Photography
Lucy's Bob Boy, under Jevian Toledo, wins the Frank Gall Memorial at Charles Town on Saturday.

A year ago, Lucy’s Bob Boy had taken over the top spot among older West Virginia-breds by defeating Russell Road in three consecutive races. But when the big money was on the line in the $450,000 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic, it was Russell Road who ended his season on a high note by surging late to score a 9-2 upset over 1-2 favorite Lucy’s Bob Boy.

Last Saturday, Lucy’s Bob Boy again took over leadership of the division by pulling away to an authoritative 5 1/4-length victory under jockey Jevian Toledo in the Frank Gall Memorial at Charles Town. Russell Road, making his first start in two months and only his third of the year, flattened out to finish fourth. Both horses are being pointed to the Breeders’ Classic on Oct. 10.

While trainer Sandra Dono is pleased with the physical condition of 6-year-old Lucy’s Bob Boy, James W. Casey, who trains 9-year-old Russell Road, said his horse had several factors working against him in the Gall Memorial.

Both Dono and Casey said they were not sure if their horse would race prior to the Breeders’ Classic. If they do, a likely spot for both is the $30,000 Roger Ramey Handicap on Sept. 19 at Charles Town.

“He’s feeling a lot better this year than he did a year ago,” Dono said of Lucy’s Bob Boy. “We have him in regular shoes now for the first time in three years. It’s always been about his feet.”

While the Gall was a two-turn race at seven furlongs, there is an extra turn in the 1 1/8-mile Breeders’ Classic.

“I think he likes the seven furlongs the best, but if he has control of the race he can get a mile and an eighth fine,” Dono said. “I always hope for an outside post with him. Even though he was down on the inside the other night, the rider got him to the outside. Toledo gave him a very good ride.”

Lucy’s Bob Boy, who is nearing $1 million in earnings, won the Breeders’ Classic in 2012. He finished ninth in 2013 and then lost a heartbreaker to Russell Road last year after appearing to have the race won.

“The jockey dropped the reins on him in the stretch when he was switching sticks, and I think the horse thought the race was over,” Dono said.

Russell Road, a winner of 29 races and $1.9 million, has won the Breeders’ Classic in 2014, 2011, and 2009. He began this season with a front-running win in the Confucious Say Stakes on the Charles Town Classic undercard in April, defeating Lucy’s Bob Boy by 4 1/2 lengths. He was beaten a head as the 3-5 favorite in his next race, a June 8 allowance, and then missed some training, according to Casey.

“He bruised a foot and missed a few weeks, so he might have been a little short for last weekend,” Casey said. “We had glue-on shoes on his front feet for the race, and he lost both of them. We don’t know if he lost them early or late, but that might have hurt his performance.”

Russell Road is now 24 for 43 at Charles Town since 2008, and Lucy’s Bob Boy is 25 for 35 over the six-furlong track since 2011.

Rivalries like this are all too rare today. They have met 11 times since October 2012, with Lucy’s Bob Boy finishing in front of Russell Road six times.