Star of Night won the WVBC Cavada. Photo Coady Photography.
by Ted Black, courtesy of TheRacingBiz.com
Heading into the latest edition of the $175,000 West Virginia Cavada Breeders Classics for fillies and mares, virtually all of the attention was on Star of Night. Though Bridging the Gap arrived as the defending champion, Star of Night arrived as reigning state-bred horse of the year and carrying a seven-race win streak that included two wins over Bridgin the Gap.
On a night when the trainer-jockey combination of Jeff Runco and Arnaldo Bocachica did little wrong, Star of Night lived up to her billing as the 1-9 favorite for the most lucrative score of her career to date.
A four-year-old daughter of Creative Cause trained by Runco for owner Huntertown Farm (Eric Steinmann) and breeder Heinz Steinmann, Star of Night had defeated Bridging the Gap in the $75,000 Sadie Hawkins Stakes last out in the last local prep for the main event.
She was made the prohibitive choice despite breaking from post 10 and having a tendency to get away from the gate in tardy fashion. In that respect, neither the beginning of the Cavada nor the outcome offered any sense of surprise.
When the gates opened, Coach Rube, one of three 99-1 shots in the field, broke well to assume command from Privately passing the finish line the first time. Meanwhile, Star of Night was away a step slow in typical fashion, then advanced widest of all entering the clubhouse turn. Coach Rube and Privately set the early fractions, but Star of Night loomed a menacing presence throughout under confident handling from Bocachica.
Midway on the far turn, Star of Night shifted gears and overhauled Privately to take command, briefly appeared as if she might draw away in the lane, but had to work for a three-quarters length score over Privately. Star of Night returned $2.20 to win and topped an exacta worth $5.60 for a one-dollar wager.
The first time Star of Night and Bridging the Gap had met, in last year’s nine-furlong My Sister Pearl, the result had been a thriller which narrowly went to Star of Night. In the Sadie Hawkins, the gap had been a length-and-change. Tonight Star of Night left no doubt; Bridging the Gap was a well-beaten third, nearly seven in arrears of the winner.
Virtually perfect in her career, Star of Night has won all four of her starts this year, eight straight races overall and now boasts 10 wins and a pair of second-place efforts and earnings of nearly $320,000 from 12 career tries. Running time for the seven furlongs on a fast main track was 1:26.53.
“I took her to the gate this week, so I thought she would break a little better than what she did,” Runco said “I was a little surprised at how she came out of there, but once she settled into stride she was okay. She’s a really nice filly. I knew once she stayed clear of trouble down the backside she was going to be okay. She just did it mainly on her own.”
“I’m used to her breaking a step slow, so I wasn’t worried,” Bocachica said. “I just wanted to keep her clear of trouble down the backside. Once she started passing horses I knew I had a lot of horse underneath me. When she made the front turning for home, she started looking around. She was just playing with that other horse [Privately]. I still had a lot of horse left, but she likes to look around when she doesn’t have another horse to chase.”
“This was a real pleasure being able to see her race,” Heinz Steinmann said. “My brother [Eric] couldn’t be here. He’s still in Switzerland. But it was a thrill watching her run. Turning for home, I got so excited. It was just amazing.”