10/16/2010 10:46PM

Sea Rescue's $116 score in Classic highlights three-win night for Runco

Mike Montgomery
Sea Rescue, under Xavier Perez, who paid a record $116 in the West Virginia Breeders' Classic, drops into allowance company for Tuesday night's feature at Charles Town.

Five days before Researcher won the $1 million Charles Town Classic for the second time last April, he was sold to Kinross Corp., leaving trainer Jeff Runco without the best horse in his barn. It hasn’t taken Runco long to reload, however.

Runco saddled three stakes winners on Saturday night’s 24th West Virginia Breeders’ Classic program for West Virginia-breds at Charles Town, highlighted by a 57-1 upset by the 4-year-old colt Sea Rescue in the featured $500,000 Classic.

The three wins doubled the number of stakes wins the prolific Runco has collected in West Virginia Breeders’ Classic races over his entire career.

In addition to Sea Rescue’s record-paying $116 win payoff, Runco scored in back-to-back races early on the all-stakes, nine-race card with the 2-year-old colt Golden Set in the $75,000 Vincent Moscarelli Memorial and the 3-year-old filly Stowe White in the $75,000 West Virginia Division of Tourism. Both of those horses are owned by David Raim.Runco is only the second trainer in the history of the West Virginia Breeders’ Classics to train three winners in one night, joining John A. Casey, who accomplished the feat in 1999.

Few bettors expected much from Sea Rescue in the 1 1/8-mile Classic, a race in which the 4-year-old Russell Road, the defending champion, was made the 1-9 favorite. Sea Rescue was making his stakes debut and racing beyond seven furlongs for only the second time. In his previous attempt at nine furlongs, Sea Rescue finished seventh, beaten more than 18 lengths.

Russell Road, bidding to become the fifth horse to win back-to-back runnings of the Classic, made the first move to seize the lead from the 3-year-old Black Belt, but in the stretch he faded and was passed by his less heralded stablemate, Colonel J W, a 4-year-old who won last year’s West Virginia Lottery. Colonel J W and Sea Rescue battled closely in deep stretch until Sea Rescue, ridden by Xavier Perez, got up by a head while completing the nine furlongs in 1:53.71.

It was just the fourth win in 13 starts for Sea Rescue, who is owned and was bred by Coleswood Farm, operated by Runco and his wife, Susan.

“The horse ran great,” said an admittedly surprised Runco.  “We’ve been dying to run him long, we know he can go long and we thought we could get a piece.  We obviously didn’t expect this.”

Black Belt re-rallied after dropping back to fourth in the stretch to outgame Russell Road for third.

The all-sources handle of $1,526,418 shattered the previous record for a West Virginia Breederrs' Classic card of $1,200,425 set in 2002, an increase of more than 27 percent..

Aspenglow captures Cavada

Aspenglow survived a heated pace duel with Down Town Allen, then withstood a late rush from 16-1 longshot Natures Annunity to win the $250,000 Cavada for fillies and mares.

Although the 4-year-old Aspenglow ($4.40) is based at Laurel Park with trainer Gary Capuano, she primarily races at Charles Town, where she is 10 for 12 lifetime, including last year’s West Virginia Division of Tourism for 3-year-old fillies.

Under Travis Dunkelberger, who won the Cavada for the fifth time, Aspenglow went head to head with Down Town Allen, who came into the race with 5 wins in 6 starts this year, including the $100,000 Lady Charles Town against open company. Aspenglow put away Down Town Allen coming into the stretch and had enough energy left to hold off Natures Annunity by a 1 1/4 lengths while completing seven furlongs in 1:27.12.

Aspenglow’s coupled stablemate, Silver Heart, rallied to get third.

* Trouble Makin ($26.80), a non-threatening fifth in this same race last fall at 16-1 odds, fired first time back from a nearly seven-week layoff to upset the $75,000 Dash for Cash at 4 1/2 furlongs.

A 5-year-old gelding trained by Renee Schlesinger and ridden by Gustavo Larrosa, Trouble Makin was back in against West Virginia-breds after four consecutive races against open company. He ran the distance in 52.66 seconds, finishing 21/4 lengths in front of runner-up Perfect Way.
Green Suede Shoes, the beaten favorite in each of the last two runnings of the Dash for Cash, finished fourth.

* Taylor’s Flight ($14.20), stretching out to seven furlongs following two losses going 41/2 furlongs, sped to a front-running, one-length win over Green Spring Boy in the $75,000 West Virginia Lottery for 3-year-olds.

Taylor’s Flight, ridden by Rodney Soodeen, gave trainer James W. Casey his second stakes win of the program. Taylor’s Flight had lost five in a row since taking a seven-furlong allowance in May.

Son of a Bear, the 3-5 favorite, finished third.

* Henry the Lover ($7.80), a distant sixth in this same race last fall at 3-1, made amends for that disappointing effort when he sped to the lead and cruised to a 10 1/4-length romp in the $75,000 Onion Juice for 3-year-olds-and-up going seven furlongs.

A 5-year-old gelding trained by James W. Casey and ridden by Gerald Almodovar, Henry the Lover is now 10 for 28 lifetime – all at Charles Town. He completed the distance in 1:26.09.

*Stowe White ($7.80), beaten double digit-lengths in each of her last two starts and winless in seven starts this season, blew past Crusader’s Angel coming around the final turn and pulled away to a 3 1/2-length victory in the $75,000 West Virginia Division of Tourism for 3-year-old fillies. J.D. Acosta rode Stowe White, who ran seven furlongs in 1:27.57.

* Heavily favored Golden Set ($3.40), coming off a 10 1/2-length maiden victory that produced a 90 Beyer Speed Figure, ran past the early leader, Just Your Way, turning into the stretch and drew clear by 1 1/4 lengths in the $75,000 Vincent Moscarelli Memorial for 2-year-olds. Ridden by Dunkelberger, Golden Set completed the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:21.50.
* Princess Cecilia ($4), shipping in after winning her career debut against maiden claimers at Parx Racing a month ago, outfought pacesetter Blushing B.J. in the stretch to prevail by a half-length in the $75,000 Triple Crown Nutrition for 2-year-old fillies. Kendrick Carmouche rode Princess Cecilia for trainer Richard Vega. The winning time for 41 /2 furlongs was 53.13 seconds.
*The 5-year-old mare Devonspaintedlady ($22.20), ridden by  Acosta for trainer David Walters, snapped a five-race losing streak when she took the $75,000 Distaff at 1 1/8 miles.