At the races

Challengers lined up to face defending champ Speed Whiz

Challengers lined up to face defending champ Speed Whiz

October 15, 2006|by LARRY YANOS

Defending West Virginia Breeders Classic champion Speed Whiz proved to be a winner again Saturday at Charles Town Races and Slots.

When Charles Town Racing Secretary Doug Lamp and his staff sifted through the nominations for the $500,000 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up, there were plenty of takers.

Speed Whiz responded to the challenge and won the feature for the second straight year, thanks to an outstanding ride by jockey Anthony Mawing. Breaking from the third post position, Mawing was very patient and saw an opening on the rail turning for home and drew off - beating longshot Shenandoah Harley by two lengths in 1:53.40.

Speed Whiz ran a marvelous race last October but he didn't fare so well in a tuneup earlier this fall, finishing eighth in a mile race at Laurel Park on Sept. 29.


However, he was at the top of his game Saturday and proved to be the best in the 10-horse field.

Remember a year ago, when the "claiming game" paid dividends for owner Donald Campbell and son William.

On Oct. 9, thoroughbreds owned and trained by the Campbells finished first and second in the $500,000 West Virginia Breeders Classic. Speed Whiz was once claimed by the Campbells for $15,000, while runner-up Slew's Smile was a $5,000 purchase.

"We put up $20,000 and got back $337,000 ... a hell of a return on your money," Donald Campbell said.

The winner was paid $225,000 and second place was worth $112,000.

Lamp said the West Virginia Breeders Classics, for horses bred-or-sired in the state, gets more popular each year.

"We had 80 entries this year and 32 on the also-eligible list," Lamp said. "The money is real good and that catches the attention of the owners and trainers."

In another development, Lamp said he's seeing more cross-entering for the Breeders' Classic card.

Going out in style

Cherokee's Boy ended his racing career Saturday on a disappointing note, finishing fifth in the $250,000 Maryland Million Classic - the featured event on Maryland Million Day at Laurel Park.

The 21st Maryland Million attracted 115 entrants to the 12-race program, and the overwhelming favorite Cherokee's Boy was not up to the task in the feature.

The 6-year-old thoroughbred trained by Gary Capuano was again ridden by Charles Town-based jockey Travis Dunkelberger.

"He's such a nice horse, easy to get along with and a real winner," Dunkelberger said. "I started riding him years ago. He likes the distance but also won as a sprinter."

The son of Citidancer will stand at Maryland Stallion Station in Baltimore County. He currently ranks 13th on the all-time list of Maryland-breds during his 47-race caree.

Cherokee's Boy won 19 career races, including 14 stakes, and has finished in the money 37 times. He collected a check in every race but two, the 2003 Preakness Stakes and Saturday's race.

Pony tales

Speaking of Dunkelberger, he was a busy man on Saturday.

The leading rider at Charles Town rode two horses on the Maryland Million program and six more on the West Virginia Breeders Classics card at the Charles Town.

Maryland-based jockey Steve Hamilton has once again returned to race-riding after a one-year absence. Hamilton is starting the third comeback of his career.

A top-five rider in Maryland five times during the 1990s, Hamilton was out of racing from 2001 through 2003 while working on the oil fields in his native Oklahoma. He returned in January 2004 and won the Pimlico spring riding title. The following year, he rode Malibu Moonshine in the Preakness Stakes and captured another riding crown at Old Hilltop, but decided to take off the balance of 2005 after Maryland Million Day. He officially retired for a second time in March but began another comeback seven weeks ago.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders' Cup Limited have selected EarthLink to be an official sponsor of the Breeders' Cup World Championships and the event's exclusive Internet Service Provider partner.

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Larry Yanos is sports editor of The Daily Mail. He writes a weekly horse racing column for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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