Bocachica, Runco win 2007 Charles Town titles


January 20, 2008|By LARRY YANOS

Jockey Arnaldo Bocachica and trainer Jeff Runco won championships in 2007 at Charles Town Races & Slots.

Bocachica, a native of Puerto Rico, was the leading rider at the West Virginia thoroughbred oval for the year (210 wins, 172 second-place finishes and 151 thirds) while Runco led the trainers with 145 wins, 110 seconds and 116 thirds.

The 19-year-old Bocachica made most of his rides last year for Runco.

"Arnaldo is an excellent jockey," his agent, Gersom Rodriquez, said Saturday. "I think he is very good at getting a horse out of the gate, so he prefers the sprint races over the longer races. He's proven, though, he can win at any distance and he's making the most of his opportunities."

Bocachica came to Charles Town in June of 2006 after graduating from jockey's school in Puerto Rico and won his first race in July of that year.


"He works hard, wants to improve." Rodriguez said of Bocachica. "He will continue to use Charles Town as the home base in 2008, with occasional visits to the Maryland and Delaware racetracks.

Runco won his second consecutive trainers' title.

"We started a bit slow in January, then we picked up the pace," Runco said. "I give a lot of credit to the help of my wife, Susan, the assistant trainers and the rest of the workers. It was a real team effort and it takes everyone working together to be successful."

Runco's outstanding horses in 2007 included Saxet Height, Researcher and Tiger Rags.

"I have about 40 horses in the barn now," Runco said. "I plan to stay at Charles Town in 2008 and run most of my horses here, shipping occasionally to Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. It's nice to have a racetrack that affords you the opportunity to race year-round and offer such good purses."

The leading jockeys for 2007: Bocachica, 210; J.D. Acosta, 201; Luis Perez, 134; Gerald Almodover, 131; Rodney Soodeen, 97; Sylvester Joseph Carmouche III, 95; , 95; Gustavo Larross, 86; Travis Dunkelberger, 81; Erick Ramirez, 79; and Wesley Ho, 69.

The leading trainers for 2007: Runco, 110; Ronney Brown, 81; Stephanie Beattie, 73; Scott Lake, 62; David Walters, 41; Kelsey Cartagens, 39; Ollie Figgins III, 37; Ernest Haynes, 37; David Wells, 30; and Preston Herbst, 28.

Jockey Thomas Clifton won the 2007 riding title at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pa., with 160 wins from 738 mounts. William Otero (152) and Katie Lee (119) finished second and third.

Murray Rojas won her first local training title by saddling 114 winners from 568 starters.

Scott Lake was second with 99 wins and Flint Stites third with 73 first-place finishers.

Pony tales

The Maryland Jockey Club honored local stars in between races at Laurel Park on Saturday for their accomplishments in 2007.

Luis Garcia and Scott Lake, who gained the most wins at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course a year ago, were honored along with Jeremy Rose and Mike Trombetta, who took the percentage titles.

Lake won 113 races at Laurel and Pimlico to claim his second consecutive training title. He finished second nationally with 485 victories - three fewer than Steve Asmussen.

Garcia had 140 winners at the major Maryland tracks a year ago and captured the riding titles in the Pimlico spring and Laurel summer meets.

Rose rode at a 24.6 percent clip in Maryland for the year, finishing first with 111 of 451 mounts. Overall, Rose finished fifth nationally with 288 wins and a career-best $9.1 million in earnings.

Trombetta saddled winners at a 25.8 percent rate for the year, reaching the winners' circle with 48 of 186 starters.

Simulcast racing operations will conclude at Hollywood Casino at Penn National at the close of business Saturday.

The 2007 live racing season at Penn National concluded Dec. 21 as construction continued on the new casino.

Simulcasting will conclude on Jan. 26 as Hollywood Casino enters its final weeks of construction in anticipation of opening in mid-February.

Telebet and eBet internet wagering still will be available seven days a week.

Fans can learn about these wagering options by calling 717-469-2430.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has announced that the Kentucky Horse Park, the world renowned educational theme park and equine competition facility, has been honored with a Special Eclipse Award.

Founded in 1978 as the first national horse park, the Kentucky Horse Park has expanded over the years to feature as many as 53 different breeds of horses at work and play.

The park showcases the horses in daily equine presentations, horse drawn tours, horseback riding and pony rides and cultural exhibits. The park hosts nearly 900,000 visitors and 15,000 competition horses in 75 special events and horse shows each year.

It is also the home of the National Horse Center, a collection of 34 national, state and regional equine organizations.

Larry Yanos 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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