James Casey continues winning influence at Charles Town
James W. Casey was still influencing athletics at James Wood High School In Winchester when he acquired his first thoroughbred, a nimble sort of runner named Royal Sketch that turned out to be the winner of more than 10 career races.
Casey was the football coach with the Colonels and then became the long-time athletic director at the school.
It’s been a long time since those years of success on the high school level . . . but in the intervening years, Casey hasn’t been drawing “x’s” and “o’s” on a chalk board, he’s been collecting wins with his stakes horses he sends the few miles from his Taylor Mountain Farm to the Charles Town Races.
In his best years, Casey was the breeder and trainer of most of the thoroughbred stock at Taylor Mountain and his wife, Eleanor, was the owner. Sons James M. Casey and John Casey also trained thoroughbreds and daughter, Ann, became a school teacher and trainer herself.
When the West Virginia Breeders’ races were started, it was the Casey family that stamped their name in bold letters on the first card and all of them that followed.
Taylor Mountain was the winner of two of the earliest West Virginia Breeders’ Classics and in quick-to-follow order came Coin Collector, Step Out Dancing, It’s Binn too Long, Colonel J W and the redoubtable Russell Road — all winning stakes events on Breeders’ Classics cards at Charles Town.
In fact, Casey trained five straight West Virginia Breeders’ Classics champions from 1989 through 1993.
Even before he purchased land in the Kabletown District of Jefferson County to build and maintain his Taylor Mountain Farm, Casey entered 300 thoroughbreds in various races at Charles Town in 1994.
Taylor Mountain Farm was begun in 2000 and has grown to have four barns, two indoor riding areas and other standard buildings needed for a thriving farm.
The most wins at Charles Town Casey ever accomplished came in 2010 when he had 41 victories and for the second straight year had over $1 million in earnings.
Casey’s highest earnings came just last year when he had 37 wins and easily topped the $1 million mark for the fifth time.
Twice his thoroughbreds have posted 39 wins in a calendar year at Charles Town.
While his wife was alive, Casey and the Taylor Mountain Farm crew began to collect some of the finest breeding sires not only in West Virginia but also for miles around and counting bordering states.
Royal Consort and Dancing Czar gave Casey and his family members credence, and then Weesham and My Boy Adam became his most prized sires. Through the early part of the 2000’s, Taylor Mountain Farm had Luftikus and Windsor Castle as the faces of its in-house sires.
Tragedy befell the Casey clan in the summer of 2005 when Eleanor was almost hit by a loose horse but in a fall broke her hip and badly injured her shoulder, later suffering a fatal heart attack as preparations were being made to transfer her from Jefferson Memorial Hospital to Winchester.
James W. Casey has had some health scares himself in recent times, but his thoroughbreds have earned nearly $400,000 at Charles Town in races from January 1 through July 12 of this year. Winning in large numbers with accompanying large purses at Charles Town is more difficult now that the track only has a Wednesday through Saturday racing schedule.
Casey and his trademark Detroit Tigers baseball cap have maintained long term excellence, especially since settling in at Taylor Mountain Farm.
The next edition of the West Virginia Breeders’ night of stakes racing comes along in October . . . and it’s likely James W. Casey and both his sons will be on hand to stand in the winner’s circle for photographs of the so-called “winning connections” and the champion thoroughbred in races that night.