08/06/2016 3:23PM

Savvy claim Roman Officer captures West Virginia Legislature Chairman's Cup

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Roman Officer, under Gerard Almodovar, scores a front-running 1 1/2-length victory in the West Virginia Legislature Cup.

The owner Robert Cole claimed Shake You Down and watched him become a graded stakes-class sprinter. He claimed Rapid Redux and watched him set a North American record for consecutive wins. And last November, Cole and trainer Kevin Patterson claimed a horse named Roman Officer for $20,000, and he, too, is blossoming. Roman Officer ran his post-Cole-claim record to four wins from four starts and captured his first stakes, winning the $100,000 West Virginia Legislature Chairman’s Cup by 1 1/2 lengths Saturday at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort over favored Black Bear.

Roman Officer is very fast, and jockey Gerald Almodovar made the most of his speed from post 1, streaking to the front and angling wide to avoid what apparently was the deeper part of the Mountaineer main track. Roman Officer set sizzling splits of 21.47 and 44.71 seconds and was too far ahead of Black Bear for the rallying favorite, who seemed to resent the kickback in the early going, to catch him. The winner stopped the timer in 51.35 seconds for 4 1/2 furlongs over a fast track, and paid $5.80 as the strong second choice. Corps of Discovery finished third.

The 5-year-old Roman Officer won for the eighth time in 33 starts – and there could be plenty more to come. Bred in Kentucky, he’s by Roman Ruler and out of the Officer mare Gem Sleuth.

I’m a Looker easily in Secretary of State

I’m a Looker and Robby Albarado tracked on the rail, came out to make their move before the quarter pole, and dominated the stretch run of the $100,000 West Virginia Secretary of State Stakes.

I’m a Looker beat Athena by 3 3/4 lengths, with Pleasant Tales another half-length back in third, and fading even-money favorite Disco Chick far back in fourth. I’m a Looker paid $6.40 to win and ran six furlongs in 1:10.49.

Trained by Pat Dupuy for Glenmare Farm, I’m a Looker dead-heated for win earlier this year in the Grade 3 Winning Colors. This, her fourth win from 17 starts, was her first outright victory in a stakes race.

Athena actually had beaten I’m a Looker last out in the Roxelana Stakes at Churchill Downs, but I’m a Looker had a troubled trip that day, and with a clean run Saturday she proved much the best. The 4-year-old filly is by Henny Hughes and out of the Victory Gallop mare Our Mariella

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Runco sweeps statebred-restricted stakes

West Virginia training stalwart Jeff Runco won both $100,000 West Virginia-bred stakes on the Saturday card, taking the Hancock County with Spa Creek and the Northern Panhandle with In the Fairway.

Spa Creek rallied seven wide from the back of the pack under Luis Quinones to beat Moonshine Promise by 2 1/4 lengths, with favored Red Hot Diva another length back in third. Spa Creek ran six furlongs in 1:11.25 and paid $20.60 to win. A 6-year-old daughter of Smoke Glacken, Spa Creek has eight wins and 10 seconds from just 26 starts.

In the Fairway raced closer to the pace in the Northern Panhandle but got a similarly wide trip through the homestretch beating West Virginia legend Russell Road by 6 1/4 lengths. Ridden by Arnaldo Bocachica, In the Fairway ran six furlongs in 1:10.58 and paid $8 to win. The 6-year-old In the Fairway, a gelded son of Posse,  ran his career record to an excellent 38-13-10-3, and after going winless in 11 starts last year, already has three wins in 2016.

Coleswood Farm bred and owns In the Fairway, and co-owns Spa Creek with David Raim.