10/15/2008 11:00PM

One stable firing two very big shots


Within the span of 30 minutes, trainer George Yetsook and owner Randy Funkhouser's O'Sullivan Farms stand to collect $600,000 in purse money if both favorites deliver in the two biggest races on Saturday night's 22nd West Virginia Breeders Classics program for West Virginia-bred or West Virginia-sired horses at Charles Town.

The remarkable 10-year-old gelding Confucius Say seeks to win the $500,000 Classic at 1 1/8 miles for the third time since 2001. One race later, a stablemate, the 5-year-old mare Julie B, will attempt to capture the $500,000 Cavada for fillies and mares for the second time in the last three years.

Of course, things don't always work out according to plan. Last fall, Confucius Say at 1-5 and Julie B at 2-5 both had to settle for second.

Yetsook said he feels a lot more confident this time. When asked how he likes his position holding two aces coming into the nine-race, all-stakes card worth a collective $1.8 million, Yetsook responded, "I like it a whole lot better" than last year.

Yetsook credits the veterinarian William Riddle with providing an environment that refreshed his stable stars. Riddle, who removed the bone spur from Confucius Say's troublesome ankle that caused him to miss

3 1/2 years, agreed to take Confucius Say and Julie B for five months at his farm in northern Maryland last winter.

Both horses have come back strong this season, though Julie B needed some extra treatment when it was discovered she was suffering from a hormonal imbalance after her poor performance in the Grade 3 Obeah at Delaware Park in June.

Jockey Larry Reynolds, who has been aboard for 15 of Confucius Say's 16 victories and 11 of Julie B's 12 wins, told Yetsook that Confucius Say "is running as well as he did at age 3 or 4."

Confucius Say, who won the Classic in 2001 and 2002, is 2 for 2 in 2008, earning back-to-back Beyer Speed Figures of 95.

"He finished both those races strongly," Yetsook said. "He's been galloping two to two and half miles a day as we've trained him to go long. We're set up well for this race."

Confucius Say will face a new shooter. Maryland-based trainer Gary Capuano has chosen to bypass the $125,000 West Virginia Lottery for 3-year-olds with Ghostly Thunder, who would have been a standout, to shoot for a bigger purse facing older in the Classic.

"Ghostly Thunder is a very nice horse," Yetsook said. "But he's never met anything of the quality of Confucius."

Julie B will renew her rivalry with Carnival Chrome, who finished second behind her in the 2006 Cavada, then beat Julie B in both the 2007 Cavada and this year's Sadie Hawkins in August. Julie B came back to turn the tables in last month's Roger Van Hoozer.

Yetsook, however, said he feels the horse to fear most is Shesagrumptoo, who will be making her first start for new connections after she was claimed for $32,000 out of a career-best performance on Sept. 5.

Seven furlongs may be a tad too long for Shesagrumptoo, who is just 1 for 13 at the distance.

In the seven other stakes, worth $125,000 apiece:

w Russell Road, a winner of his two starts since going on Lasix by a combined margin of 24 1/2 lengths, seems a standout in the Vincent Moscarelli Memorial for 2-year-olds going 6 1/2 furlongs (race 1).

w Fluvanna will try to make amends for her ninth-place finish as the 1-2 favorite on a sloppy track when she again faces Leva Mae, the 10-1 upset winner of the Golden Gull, in the 4 1/2-furlong Triple Crown Nutrition for

2-year-olds (race 2).

* Defending champion Missacity Luke will be odds-on to repeat in the Dash for Cash at

4 1/2 furlongs (race 3).

* The improving Smile Samantha, winner of the local prep three weeks ago, faces Shesdebonairness, beaten favorite in her last two starts, in the seven-furlong West Virginia Division of Tourism for 3-year-old fillies (race 4).

* Milwaukee Fun and Henry the Lover, part of a three-horse coupled entry, give trainer James Casey two strong contenders in the seven-furlong West Virginia Lottery (race 5).

* After chasing Confucius Say in his last two starts, Blues in the Night may be poised to break through for a win in the seven-furlong Onion Juice (race 6).

* Castina, coming off back-to-back wins at 1 1/8 miles and 1 1/4 miles in starter handicaps, seems best-suited to win the inaugural Distaff at 1 1/8 miles (race 9).