The gelding A Huevo, running for the first time in his home state, remained undefeated with a record-breaking romp through the slop in the $150,000 West Virginia Breeders Classic at Charles Town Races.
The West Virginia-bred 3-year-old had won each of his three career starts, all of them coming at Delaware Park. This summer, after A Huevo's second win at six furlongs, Mark Hopkins purchased him from Lisa Moscarelli in a private sale. Hopkins declined to say how much he paid for the son of Cool Joe and Verabald, other than to say, "It was a fair price for both sides." The price no doubt seemed much more fair to Hopkins after the Breeders Classic.
Hopkins turned A Huevo's reins over to noted trainer Michael Dickinson. After one more sprint win, Dickinson decided it was time to give his horse a shot running around more than one turn, and against stakes company. The Breeders Classic, with its healthy purse and its field restricted to thoroughbreds from the Mountaineer State, seemed the perfect spot.
Because of heavy rains, however, A Huevo almost didn't get the start.
"Up until a half-hour before post time, we were on the fence about scratching him," Hopkins said. "The weather scared me. But the people at the track did everything they could to get the track fast. If it was as wet then as it had been earlier in the day, we wouldn't have run."
But run he did. Jockey Michael McCarthy, who followed A Huevo down from Delaware Park for the 1 1/8-mile Classic, stayed off the rail and went into the first turn several lengths behind 80-1 pacesetter Kody's Glory. McCarthy kept his mount off the lead until the last of three tight turns on Charles Town's 3/4-mile track--which is two furlongs shorter than the Delaware oval.
But coming out of the backstretch, with McCarthy's permission, A Huevo blazed into the lead and did little more than watch as the odds-on favorite launched a glorious closing kick that left him more than seven lengths ahead of his closest competitor at the wire. His time of 1 minute 50 seconds smashed a 26-year-old track record for the distance. A Huevo paid $2.80. Even Hopkins was awed by the performance.
"He'd never run in these conditions, or gone more than one turn before," Hopkins said. "But this is a good horse. He was great today."
Asked if A Huevo would return to Charles Town next year to defend his title, Hopkins said, "If he's standing, we'll be here."
Rebellious Dreamer, trained by John A. Casey, finished second. The Casey family had won seven previous Classics.