The 10-year-old Confucius Say and Ghostly Thunder, each coming off back-to-back stakes victories at seven furlongs, will square off in the $500,000 West Virginia Breeders' Classic at Charles Town Races and Slots on the night of Oct. 18.
The Classic, along with the $500,000 West Virginia Jefferson Security Bank Cavada Breeders' Classic for fillies and mares, top a nine-race program restricted to West Virginia-bred horses worth $1.875 million at Charles Town.
The two favorites for the Classic are stretching out to 1 1/8 miles on the main track for this race, which drew a 10-horse field.
The old pro Confucius Say, a dark bay gelding trained by George Yetsook for owner/breeder O'Sullivan Farms, has won his only two starts this year. A confirmed front-runner, the son of Eastover Court is coming off convincing back-to-back scores in Charles Town's Frank Gall Memorial Aug. 23 and the Robert R. Hilton Memorial Sept. 20, which like the Classic, were restricted to state breds.
Yetsook and O'Sullivan Farms also have the favorite in the Cavada Breeders' Classic with 5-year-old mare Julie B, another homebred daughter of Eastover Court.
An 18-time winner of $877,318, Confucius Say would far surpass the $1 million mark in career earnings with a victory. He has finished in the money in 32 of his 39 career starts.
The 3-year-old Ghostly Thunder has romped to victory over his age group in his last two starts, also state-bred races at Charlestown. Trained by Gary Capuano, who is co-owner along with Paul Fowler Jr., the Ghostly Minister gelding won the Aug. 9 Robert G. Leavitt Memorial by nearly eight lengths. He returned Sept. 19 to capture the Millard Harrell Memorial Sept. 19.
Ghostly Thunder has won five of eight starts in 2008. Overall, he owns an 7-1-3 mark in 12 starts with earnings of $225,418.
Confucius Say, who will have regular rider Larry Reynolds aboard and is the 9-5 morning line choice, is a better sprinter than router. He has won three of nine at the nine-furlong distance with four seconds and a third. Ghostly Thunder, pegged at 2-1 in the early line, is yet to try the distance. Travis Dunkelberger retains the mount.
Though far up the track to the choice in the Gall, Peaceful Bliss romped by more than 14 lengths in his last start, a $10,000 starter allowance at 1 1/8 miles over the track Sept. 25. Big Stoney and Eagle Speed are both coming off claiming victories over sprinters and will be be trying the distance for the first time. Gold Standard, who had won five in a row, has been defeated by Confucius Say in his last two starts while well bet.
The seven-furlong Cavada Breeders' Classic drew 10 fillies and mares (with one also-eligible), headed by 8-5 choice Julie B and Carnival Chrome, who is 2-1.
Reynolds will be aboard Julie B, who defeated the heavily favored Carnival Chrome by 1 3/4 lengths in their most recent start, the Roger Van Hoozer Memorial Sept. 20. Julie B and Carnival Chrome have split four meetings, with Carnival Chrome taking the Sadie Hawkins stakes Aug. 16 when Julie B bore out at the start and finished fifth.
Julie B has won 12 of 17 starts at Charles Town while earning $547,347 overall in a 23-race career.
Carnival Chrome, who will be ridden by Dunkelberger for trainer David Walters and owner Michael Miller, has won 10 of 15 starts, all at Charles Town, and has never been out of the money. She has earned $457,188.
Also on tap at Charles Town are seven other West Virginia-bred stakes worth $125,000 apiece: the Farm Family Insurance Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Breeders' Classic for 2-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs; the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Dash for Cash at 4 1/2 furlongs; the "Onion Juice" Breeders' Classic for colts and geldings at seven furlongs; Breeders' Classic Distaff for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles; the Division of Tourism Breeders' Classic for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs; the Lottery Breeders' Classic for 3-year-olds at 7 furlongs; and the Triple Crown Nutrition Breeders' Classic for 2-year-old fillies over 4 1/2 furlongs.
$500,000 West Virginia Breeders' Classic Stakes (Race 7, 10:15 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, ML Odds
1. Peaceful Bliss, Anthony Mawing, 10/1
2. Gold Standard, Luis A. Perez, 5/1
3. Confucius Say, Larry C. Reynolds, 9/5
4. Big Stoney, John B. Luzzi, Jr., 20/1
5. Eastern Delite, Oscar Flores, 8/1
6. Ghostly Thunder, Travis L. Dunkelberger, 2/1
7. The Real Seal, Wesley Ho, 30/1
8. Double Tollgate, Gerald Almodovar, 20/1
9. Eagle Speed, William P. Otero, 20/1
10. Three's a Crowd, J. D. Acosta, 10/1
Each assigned 122 pounds.