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Owners Day - Celebration of camaraderie with lucrative races

August 05, 2007|By LARRY YANOS

The eighth annual Owner's Day will be held this afternoon at Charles Town Races & Slots.

"We expect close to 600 owners and trainers to attend," said Randy Funkhouser, president of the Charles Town Division/Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. "It's a great day to get together and break bread and watch the races. Management has been very cooperative in this venture."

The first Owner's Day at Charles Town was Oct. 15, 2000.

Funkhouser said any owner and/or trainer who has made at least one start at Charles Town in the last year is eligible for HBPA membership.

Today's impressive 10-race card features four $50,000 stakes races with preference being given to those horses who show the most starts at Charles Town in the last four outings.

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The lineup:

·The $50,000 HBPA Horsemen's Stakes.

·The $50,000 HBPA Dash.

·The $50,000 HBPA West Virginia Stakes.

·The $50,000 HBPA and West Virginia Racing Commission Stakes.

"This is a good day for the owners and trainers, recognizing their accomplishments here," Charles Town Racing Secretary Doug Lamp said. "We have four stakes and purses totalling $306,000. On a normal Sunday, it's about $180,000."

Confucius has a say

Talented Confucius Say, who has dominated the opposition at Charles Town Races & Slots in 2007, takes on allowance horses at Delaware Park on Monday.

The nine-year-old thoroughbred, owned by O'Sullivan Farms and trained by George Yetsook, is entered in an Allowance Optional Claiming race.

The test for 3-year-olds-and-upwards carries a $50,000 purse and will cover 1 1/16 miles.

Jockey Larry Reynolds will be aboard Confucius Say.

The gelding is coming off an impressive victory in the seven-furlong, $100,000 Charles Town Dash and now sports career earnings of nearly $700,000.

He has 16 lifetime wins - including the West Virginia Breeders Classic Night's featured race twice.

Hard lesson

Hard Spun's owner Rick Porter finally "came clean" during a pre-race interview for today's 1/1-8 mile Haskell Invitational at the Monmouth Park.

"I overreacted," Porter said when asked why he dumped Maryland-based jockey Mario Pino in favor of Garrett Gomez for Hard Spun in the Belmont Stakes.

The Hall of Fame-bound Pino had success riding the 3-year-old but Porter and trainer Larry Jones didn't quite like the ride in the Preakness, prompting the change.

In my view - which I stated when the change was announced - Hard Spun is a nice 3-year-old and any trainer in America would welcome him to their barn. But the thoroughbred proved he couldn't go the 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby or the 1 3/16 miles of the Preakness.

So what would lead you to believe he could go the 1 1/2 miles of the Belmont - regardless of who was aboard?

Owners and trainers like Porter and Jones, though, have a tendency to panic when things aren't going their way.

When a horse wins five straight suddenly the owner and trainer become Hall of Fame material. The horse loses and, you guessed it, it's the jockey's fault.

Could the three gruelling races in five weeks, the competition from Street Sense and Curlin and/or the distance of the races have anything to do with Hard Spun's shortcoming?

Or did Pino misjudge his horse in the Preakness Stakes?

In the Belmont, Hard Spun never threatened, finishing 11 lengths back in fourth place.

Porter admitted his mistake.

"I should have stayed with Mario," Porter said. "And we paid the price dearly. We have a lot of confidence in Mario, but I felt I needed to make a change. We're happy he's back."

Larry Yanos 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 larryy@herald-mail.com

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