10/16/2014 12:14PM

Lucy’s Bob Boy favored to notch another West Virginia Breeders’ Classic win

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Lucy's Bob Boy is a strong favorite for Saturday's West Virginia Breeders' Classic at Charles Town.

The three best horses in the $500,000 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic will have to cope with the three worst positions Saturday night at Charles Town.

Lucy’s Bob Boy, Fred High, and Russell Road – the winners of the last three editions of the richest race for West Virginia-breds – drew posts 8, 9, and 10 for the three-turn, 1 1/8-mile race. The Classic, with a post time of 10:47 p.m. Eastern, is the last of nine stakes on an all-stakes program.

In 1 1/8-mile races this season at Charles Town, posts 8 to 10 are a collective 1 for 21.

The long-term stats are a little more encouraging for Classic favorite Lucy’s Bob Boy. Over the past three seasons, post 8 has produced seven winners from 69 starts at 1 1/8 miles, a 10 percent strike rate. In contrast, post 9 is 1 for 48, and post 10 is 2 for 27 during that span.

The 5-year-old Lucy’s Bob Boy, who romped by eight lengths in this race in 2012 but was ninth as the 3-5 favorite last year, is in razor-sharp form, having dominated his last three starts since an eight-week freshening.

:: West Virginia Breeders Classic: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live

“We wanted to give him some time away from the races to get him a little fresher and let his feet grow out,” said trainer Sandra Dono. “It’s definitely helped him a lot. I know my horse well, and when his feet are okay, he’s okay, and this is the best his feet have ever been.”

Russell Road, an 8-year-old with 27 wins and $1.6 million in earnings, will be looking to win the Classic for a record third time. He won the race as a 3-year-old in 2009 and 2011 but was second-best in each of the last two years. Russell Road was easily handled by Lucy’s Bob Boy in each of their last three matchups.

“Lucy’s Bob Boy is in the zone right now," said Mark Rusell, the owner of Russell Road.  "If he runs back to his last race, we’re probably all running for second place but we can only hope he doesn’t or he bounces a bit."

Fred High scored at 5-1 in last year’s Classic but is just 1 for 5 since then and was far behind Lucy’s Bob Boy in his two most recent starts.

Upset candidates include Strawberry Cupcake, fifth in last year’s Classic but 2 for 3 this season; Clink Clink Clink, who rallied to get third, beaten 1 3/4 lengths, at 53-1 in this race a year ago; and Allegheny Jack, third in the 2012 Classic.

KEY CONTENDERS

Lucy’s Bob Boy (Last 3 Beyers: 91-95-92)

◗ He looks imposing, based on his 3-for-3 record since he returned from a two-month freshening in August and his 20-for-26 record at Charles Town.

Russell Road (Last 3 Beyers: 79-89-84)

◗ The old-timer will be making his sixth appearance in the Classic, but he’s hard to endorse from post 10 after failing to get any closer than three lengths behind Lucy’s Bob Boy in their last three meetings.

Fred High (Last 3 Beyers: 75-73-74)

◗ His three starts this season have produced Beyer Speed Figures far too low to threaten either Lucy’s Bob Boy or Russell Road. He is likely to be an underlay from a poorly drawn post.

Allegheny Jack (Last 3 Beyers: 77-85-80)

◗ No match for Lucy's Bob  Boy in his three most recent starts and seventh in last year's Classic, he will be reunited with jockey Travis Dunkelberger, who was aboard for both of his victories this season.

Strawberry Cupcake (Last 3 Beyers: 78-80-74)

◗ Off the board in two stakes last season, this 6-year-old has not been worse than second in his last three starts and should be able to work out a good trip from post 4 while stretching out off a series of sprints.

Clink Clink Clink (Last 3 Beyers: 63-57-65)

◗ Rallied from far back to lose by only  1 3/4 lengths in the 2013 Classic, he could move forward stretching out in distance for the third start of his current form cycle.