John McKee’s really big night

John McKee’s really big night

Dr. Feelgood is by Fiber Sonde. Photo by Coady Photography. by Ted Black, courtesy of TheRacingBiz.com Though longtime local owner, breeder and trainer John McKee opted to watch Saturday night’s West Virginia Breeders Classics from his home at Beau Ridge Farm, the octogenarian horseman certainly had a major impact on the nine-race card. McKee won races on the card as an owner, trainer, and breeder. And Fiber Sonde, the stallion he stands, sired five winners on the card. All told McKee had a winning hand in five of the nine stakes on the card. “He’s certainly been a blessing for us,” McKee said of Fiber Sonde. “I probably could have charged more for him, but I like to keep his book full and $1,000 just seems fair. He’s had horses win early and win as older horses. They’ve won sprints and they’ve won going long. It was a big night. Anytime you can win one of those races on the big night up here you feel grateful. But I won two and Fiber Sonde won three others for me, so I’m happy with that.” Just before the midway portion of the card, Youthinkthatsfunny (Reshawn Latchman) forged a mild 3-1 upset in the $70,000 Vincent Moscarelli Memorial for state-bred two-year-olds. A juvenile son of Fiber Sonde owned, bred and trained by McKee, Youthinkthatsfunny surged to command down the backside and then outkicked Pilot In Command and Officer Appeal for a three-length score while stopping the timer in 1:21.42 for the 6 1/2-furlongs in his first try around two turns. “He was able to work out a great trip and it looked...
“Grateful” jock Hiraldo stars on WVBC night

“Grateful” jock Hiraldo stars on WVBC night

  by Ted Black On a night when the focus at Charles Town was on the state-bred runners of all ages and both genders for the 31st edition of the West Virginia Breeders Classics, jockey Christian Hiraldo was the undisputed human star. He recorded three victories on the card and prevailed in the evening’s top two races, the $350,000 Classic aboard Charitable Annuity and the $125,000 Cavada on Moonlit Song. Hiraldo completed his stakes “hat trick” in stellar fashion when he steered Charitable Annuity to a narrow victory over Jeff Runco trainees North Atlantic and Weekend Liberty to capture the featured $350,000 West Virginia Breeders Classic by a nose in 1:53.37 for the nine furlongs. It was the second win for Charitable Annuity in the Classic, having prevailed in the 2015 edition before finishing second to the late Slip The Cable in his title defense last fall. Hiraldo inherited the mount when regular rider Antonio Lopez was injured in a spill nearly two weeks ago. “I knew the race had plenty of speed, so I thought I would sit just off the cheap speed and wait until the three-eighths pole to make my move,” Hiraldo said. “This horse has always liked going this distance while the other horses were all coming out of sprints, so I knew if I was patient I could get them in the lane. That last 100 yards was really tight. I asked my horse turning for home and he seemed to have another gear and it got tight at the wire, but I knew that I had it. Winning three races is always good...
Trainer Mangual “blessed to be alive” — and to win first stake

Trainer Mangual “blessed to be alive” — and to win first stake

by Frank Vespe Back in July, trainer Manolo Mangual was involved in a frightening motorcycle accident that left him clinging to life in intensive care at Fairfax Hospital for some three weeks. The racing strip at Charles Town Races seemed a long way away. The notion of winning races — or even caring about winning races — was a wispy, faraway thought. “I don’t really remember anything from the accident,” Mangual said Saturday evening. “I just blacked out after it happened and when I woke up I couldn’t remember anything. I’m blessed just to be alive right now.” Though just a few months back, those dark days seemed like a long time ago this evening when a beaming Mangual stepped into the winner’s circle following the $65,000 West Virginia Dash for Cash Breeders Classic, met there by George Town Cat, a horse he both owns and trains. And if he has a hard time remembering anything from the accident, it’s likely that every detail of George Town Cat’s win — Mangual’s first stakes win as a trainer — will stay with him for a very long time. The bettors didn’t have much use for the five-year-old George Town Cat, a Fiber Sonde gelding bred by John McKee, though he had netted eight wins and over $130,000 in earnings in his 36-race career. In his prior race, the $50,000 It’s Only Money Stakes on the Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks undercard, he’d had a rough trip and struggled home eighth and last at 19-1. By post time tonight, he was 41-1. While bettors saw a last-place finish from a longshot,...
Runco wins four on Breeders Classics night

Runco wins four on Breeders Classics night

  by Ted Black Heading into the 29th edition of the West Virginia Breeders Classics night at Charles Town, longtime leading local conditioner and former rider Jeff Runco was optimistic about his chances to win several races on the card.  And he had reason to be: four of his horses were morning line favorites. Still, his runners exceeded his expectations, notching the first three stakes on the program and then capping the night by taking the finale for a rare training grand slam, with three of the winners having been bred by Coleswood Farm, consisting of him and wife, Susan. “My wife really does all the homework on the breeding part of it, and I am lucky to get to train them,” Runco said after Coleswood Farm product Slip The Cable led throughout to capture the $60,000 West Virginia Lottery Breeders Classic, the last race on the card. “We’ve had a little luck over the years with our homebreds. We still don’t have a lot of mares. But for a small operation, we’ve done okay. But the credit goes to my wife. She finds the right stallions for the mares and then we just hope for a healthy foal and then something good to train. These nights are great for local breeders.” With three wins under his belt heading into the finale, Runco sent out Slip The Cable in the WV Lottery looking for a hint of redemption. A three-year-old Midshipman gelding out of a Not For Love mare, Slip The Cable had been the beaten favorite in the Robert Leavitt Memorial in his most recent outing on a...