Mark Russell’s Russell Road, a millionaire West Virginia-bred, signaled he’s ready for another campaign with a smashing victory in the $50,000 Confucius Say Stakes for state-breds at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races April 14 (VIDEO).
The 6-year-old Wheaton gelding, a winner of 19 races at Charles Town and 20 lifetime, hadn’t raced since Nov. 19 of last year when he finished a disappointing fourth in the A Huevo Stakes. He spent the winter at trainer James W. Casey’s farm and returned to training in a big way earlier this year.
“He trained as good as he ever did,” Casey said after the Confucius Say victory. “He was a little bit stale after his last race and put on some weight, but when he came back he was feeling good.”
Ridden by Luis Perez, Russell Road, was in contention early in the seven-furlong Confucius Stay, dropped back to sixth on the first turn, and remained about five lengths off the lead down the backstretch through a moderate but contested pace. Perez pulled the trigger on the final turn and Russell Road blew past five horses to quickly open up by 2 1/2 lengths.
Son Of A Bear attempted to rally with Russell Road but couldn’t keep pace with the leader, who finished up in 1:25.31 on a fast track. The winning margin was 4 1/2 lengths. Son Of A Bear finished four lengths ahead of Confederate Silver.
The winner paid $4.20 as the favorite. Russell Road has now won a stakes on all four Charles Town Classic (gr. II) programs.
Russell Road became a millionaire last year when he won the West Virginia Breeders Classic at Charles Town for the second straight year. Owner Russell said the gelding will be pointed to the Classic, a 1 1/8-mile race for state-breds, again this year.
“We’re going to try to keep the number (of races) as delicate as we can this year,” Russell said. “There are only so many West Virginia-bred stakes, and the local fans just love to see watch him run.”