Confucius Say prepping for Classic return

May 27, 2007|By LARRY YANOS

In the wacky, wonderful world of thoroughbred racing, it's a long way from May to October - horses can either "go south" or show improvement over that span of time.

A case in point: How many of the 20 Kentucky Derby horses in May will still be active for the Breeders Cup in October? How many will show improvement?

For Charles Town-based trainer George Yetsook, the hope is the strong effort by Confucius Say last Sunday at the West Virginia thoroughbred oval will be a stepping stone toward the West Virginia Breeders Classic on Oct. 20.

The lightly raced Confucius Say won the premier event of Breeders Classic Night in 2001 and 2002 and last Sunday's winning effort indicates the 9-year-old is ready to take on all comers again this fall.


"He's in probably the best shape now than he's ever been in but we'll take things nice and easy," Yetsook said. "We'll probably give him three or four races this summer but the ultimate goal is having him ready for the Classic."

The thoroughbred sports 15 wins in 32 starts.

Yetsook mentioned a stake at Charles Town and other tests at Delaware Park and Monmouth Park among the racing possibilities this spring and summer.

An ankle spur forced Confucius Say off the track for 3 1/2 years following his Classics win in 2002, but he enjoyed a splendid 2006 and Yetsook hopes for a repeat performance in 2007.

"He was really impressive last Sunday," Yetsook said. "It was only his second race of the year and he covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:18. (Jockey Larry Reynolds) wrapped him up late or he may have set the track record."

The trainer said the effort was a far cry from his performance on Jan. 27, 2007.

"The track was heavy that day and he hadn't run since October," Yetsook said. "He ran third, beaten two lengths."

Things were a bit different in last Sunday's Open Allowance race at 6 1/2 furlongs.

"He got on cruise control. He was pretty impressive," Yetsook said. "The early fractions were 23.12, 45.83, 1:11 and 1:18 and it was a hand ride to the wire. He's a 9-year-old but he runs like a 2-year-old."

Confucius Say was denied a starting spot in the Classics' feature last year because of a lack of earnings, but Yetsook says that should not be the case in 2007.

Charles Town racing secretary Doug Lamp reports that the track's purse structure will remain the same in the upcoming weeks and two accredited West Virginia races will be run on each card - starting June 8.

"We're giving away between $170,000 and $200,000 each night and I look for that to stay in place for awhile. We're just issuing new condition books," Lamp said. "As for the accredited races, we'll be writing two a day. We did have 'preferred' races but it will be accredited now."

The difference - accredited means West Virginia-bred or -sired only, while preferred means preference is given to West Virginia-bred or -sired horses over other entrants.

Pony tales

·Funeral services for former jockey William L. (Bill) Pindell Sr. were held Wednesday in Charles Town.

The 69-year-old Pindell died last Saturday at the Winchester, Va., Medical Center.

He retired as a jockey at Charles Town after riding for 17 years and was a jockey's valet there for 27 years.

·The Penn National Race Course will hold a Summer World Series of Handicapping on June 7.

Prizes will be awarded to the top five finishers.

Contestants can register and play in the World Series of Handicapping at the Penn National in Grantville, Pa., and the track's Off-Track wagering facilities in Chambersburg, Reading, York, Lancaster, Williamsport, and Johnstown.

The entry fee is $100. Half of that goes into the contest prize fund and the other $50 is used for live wagering on the designated contest races.

The WSH will be based on the nine live races run at Penn National and the 10-race card from Charles Town on June 7.

Contestants must make a minimum $10 win bet on one horse in at least five of the contest races.

There is no limit on the size of a wager, or the total number of races that may be played.

The winner is the player with the highest total bankroll at the conclusion of the contest races.

Entry deadline will be 6:15 p.m. on June 7. For information, call 717-469-3345.

·Although Kentucky Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel won't win the Triple Crown this year, he's cemented his place in racing history.

Borel was inducted into the "Gallop of Glory," a shrine outside downtown Louisville's historic Galt House Hotel on Wednesday.

Borel made his handprints and autograph in a block of cement that will be placed next to Derby winning jockeys - including Pat Day, Edgar Prado and Steve Cauthen, the last Triple Crown winner aboard Affirmed in 1978.

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

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