10/19/2008 12:00AM

Ghostly Thunder rewards Capuano's gamble


Trainer Gary Capuano could have played things safe by entering his 3-year-old Ghostly Thunder against his own age group in the $125,000 West Virginia Lottery, where he would have been an overwhelming favorite. Instead, Capuano took a risk by running Ghostly Thunder against older horses and stretching him out from seven furlongs to 1 1/8 miles for the first time in Saturday night's $500,000 West Virginia Breeders Classic.

Ghostly Thunder made Capuano look like a genius when he outdueled Eastern Delite in the stretch to prevail by three-quarters of a length in the richest race for males on the all-stakes program at Charles Town worth a collective $1.8 million.

It was the fourth consecutive win locally for the Maryland-based Ghostly Thunder ($4.40), who is owned by Capuano and Paul Fowler and was ridden by his usual jockey, Travis Dunkelberger.

Eastern Delite, who finished first in last year's Classic but was later disqualified for testing positive for caffeine, rallied from third to take a half-length lead at the eighth pole but could not withstand Ghostly Thunder's late surge.

The 10-year-old Confucius Say, the second choice in a field of 10, was foiled in his bid to win the Classic for the third time. He got the lead through six furlongs in 1:13.25, but faded to fourth in the stretch.

The connections of Confucius Say – owner Randy Funkhouser of O'Sullivan Farms, trainer George Yetsook, and jockey Larry Reynolds – did succeed with heavily favored Julie B ($3.40), who scored by 2 ¼ lengths in the biggest race for fillies and mares, the $500,000 Cavada. She won the same seven-furlong stakes two years ago.

The 6-year-old Julie B won for the 13th time in 18 starts locally, while making amends for her loss to Carnival Chrome in last year's Cavada. This time, Carnival Chrome could do no better than fourth.

Reynolds also won the inaugural running of the $125,000 Distaff with Cedar Run Emblem ($15.40), who ended a six-race losing streak by defeating Little Cat B in the 1 1/8-mile race by 1 ¼ lengths.

Dunkelberger also collected a riding double by guiding the 3-year-old gelding Fool Proof ($5.20) to an easy 8 1/4-length score in the seven-furlong West Virginia Lottery.

In the other stakes, all worth $125,000 and restricted to West Virginia-bred and West Virginia-sired horses:

Punk Robinson ($75.40) got up by a head over 43-1 shot Judge Marshall, triggering a $1 exacta worth $851 in the seven-furlong Onion Juice for older males.

Pagan Cat ($24), adding Lasix after winning his maiden last time out, cruised by 12 ¾ lengths in the 6 1/2-furlong Vincent Moscarelli Memorial for 2-year-olds.

Leva Mae ($7.80) defeated 3-5 favorite Fluvanna by a length in the 4 1/2-furlong Triple Crown Nutrition for 2-year-old fillies.

Rhythmic Moves ($20.60) ran down 4-5 favorite Missacity Luke by a nose in the 4 1/2-furlong Dash for Cash.

We're in the Money ($17), a winner on last year's West Virginia Breeders Classic card but 0 for 5 since January, upset the seven-furlong West Virginia Division of Tourism for 3-year-old fillies.