Russell Road wins WV Breeder’s Classic for third time
Two of Charles Town’s all-time marvels ran their ageless legs off on Saturday when eight-year-old Russell Road jetted past favorite Lucy’s Bob Boy near the finish in the West Virginia Breeder’s Classic and seven-year-old Down Town Allen prevailed in the Cavada Stakes for fillies and mares.
Russell Road, trained by James W. Casey and owned by Mark Russell, was winning his third West Virginia Breeder’s Classic. Down Town Allen, trained and owned by John Casey, was once again a heroine on Breeder’s Classic Night after posting other wins on such nights in her star-studded career.
This year’s 28th annual evening of showcased West Virginia racing had nine stakes events with total purses of $1.28 million. The Breeder’s Classic was a $500,000 race and the Cavada had a purse of $200,000.
Russell Road dueled with Lucy’s Bob Boy for most of the one-mile-and-one-eighth Breeder’s Classic. The one-to-two, odds-on favorite Lucy’s Bob Boy led by less than a length until the far turn on the six-furlong oval. After increasing his advantage to one length, Lucy’s Bob Boy swung into the short and abbreviated stretch. It was then that the constant pressure applied through the race helped Russell Road. With about 75 yards left, jockey Jose Montano began to quickly eat away the shrinking lead of the favorite.
Montano and Russell Road moved past the tiring pace setter with about 20 yards left and won by a convincing half-length.
Russell Road’s trainer, who has been experiencing health difficulties, was unable to attend the joyous gathering in the winner’s circle.
The venerable thoroughbred champion hadn’t won since May and paid $11.40 for a $2 winning ticket.
Last year’s Classics winner, Fred High, rallied to finish third.
Owner Mark Russell gave indication that Russell Road would not race again in this calendar year but hoped his dark bay legend could return for another Breeder’s Classic next year as a nine-year-old.
John Casey, the son of James W. Casey, saw Down Town Allen win the Cavada as the crowd-favored three-to-10 betting choice. She rewarded her thousands of backers with $2.60 for a winning $2 ticket.
Jockey Mathew McGowan guided the veteran mare to another in a long series of Charles Town successes. She has been winning stakes races at the local track for six straight years.
One of Charles Town’s longest tenured trainers, John McKee, saddled two stakes winners on the undercard of the nine-race program.
But it was senior citizens Russell Road and Down Town Allen that won the richest and most anticipated races on the $1 million-plus card.