10/17/2009 11:00PM

Russell Road romps in W.Va. Breeders' Classic


Russell Road and My Sister Margaret, a pair of 3-year-olds stepping up to challenge older horses, emerged as the biggest stars Saturday night on the 23rd annual West Virginia Breeders' Classic program at Charles Town.

Racing beyond his best distance of seven furlongs, Russell Road ($3.80) easily handled his first test at 1 1/8 miles by romping to an eight-length victory in the , giving trainer James W. Casey and jockey Travis Dunkelberger their second wins on the nine-stakes card for West Virginia-breds that was worth $1.8 million.

My Sister Margaret ($8.20) got up by a nose over 15-1 longshot Natures Annuity to capture the co-featured for fillies and mares.

In winning his fourth straight stakes and 10th race in 11 starts locally, Russell Road earned a career-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure while completing the nine furlongs over a sloppy track in 1:54.75.

Peaceful Bliss, the 3-2 second choice in a field of eight, was a distant second, four lengths clear of Dancin Banker, a 25-1 shot.

Defending champion Ghostly Thunder wound up fifth at 7-2, and Eastern Delite, the 2007 Classic winner, was last as a 26-1 outsider.

In the Cavada, Natures Annuity, a 5-year-old who was third in this race last year, and My Sister Margaret, coming off a pair of seconds against her own age group, engaged in a stretch duel. Natures Annuity, under Luis Perez, forged a half-length lead with a furlong remaining in the seven-furlong race, but My Sister Margaret dug down under jockey Scott Spieth and just got up in the final strides.

It was another 7 1/4 lengths back to 17-1 longshot Shesagrumptoo in third.

Run Louis Run, the other 3-year-old filly in the Cavada field, finished eighth as the 6-5 favorite. Julie B., a two-time winner of the Cavada, wound up fourth.

Although Casey was foiled in his bid for his third win on the program when Natures Annuity was nosed out in the Cavada, he did capture the $126,000 West Virginia Lottery for 3-year-olds with Colonel J W ($4.80). That win kicked off a riding triple for jockey Arnaldo Bocachica. He also was aboard Shes Heavy Lifting ($13.60), an 11-length winner for trainer Ronney Brown in the $135,000 Distaff, and Raggedy Andy ($16.20), a 7-year-old gelding who ended a two-year, eight-race losing streak when he prevailed by a neck over even-money favorite Darth Tater in the $135,000 Onion Juice at seven furlongs.

Dunkelberger's first of two riding victories on the all-stakes program came when heavy favorite Aspenglow ($2.40) coasted to a 3 3/4-length victory in the $126,000 West Virginia Division of Tourism for 3-year-old fillies.

Jockey Matt McGowan was denied a riding double when Down Town Allen, who romped by 7 1/2 lengths as the 2-1 second choice in the $126,000 Triple Crown Nutrition for 2-year-old fillies, was disqualified and placed seventh for causing interference leaving the starting gate. As a result, Amy's Affair ($19.40) was elevated to first.

McGowan did come back to ride Nay's Tap ($4.40) to a one-length victory over 6-5 favorite Green Suede Shoes in the $126,000 Dash for Cash at 4 1/2 furlongs.

Son of a Bear ($3.60) won his second straight stakes for jockey Jesus Sanchez and trainer Lee Couchenor by scoring a 1 3/4-length victory in the $126,000 Vincent Moscarelli Memorial for 2-year-olds.