Charles Town’s all-time leading trainer Jeff Runco reached the 3,000-win milestone – but that was only part of his story. With wife Susan, the Runcos – both former jockeys – maintained a busy schedule as owners of Coleswood Farm, breeders, and auction buyers and sellers, in addition to running the stable. “Susan does the mares, babies, layups that are getting legged-up on the machine, young horses – just everything that goes on here,” said Jeff. “As well as the accounting, office work, payroll, taxes, workers’ comp. . .” Stable stars over the years included graded stakes-winning millionaire Researcher, who captured the first two runnings of the Charles Town Classic, and homebred Sea Rescue, winner of the previous year’s West Virginia Breeders Classic.
- A family tradition continued as Julie Colhoun and her son Dan sent out Private Attack to win the Maryland Hunt Cup under their Sportsmans Hall colors. Julie Colhoun’s father, Janon Fisher Jr., trained Blockade to three consecutive Hunt Cup wins (1938-40) and was the breeder of the legendary Mountain Dew (three wins, three seconds and a third in eight Hunt Cup starts). Colhoun’s brother Janon Fisher III rode Mountain Dew.
Aboard Private Attack was 42-year-old Blythe Miller Davies, who had been away from riding races for nearly nine years and only agreed to ride the 12-year-old New Jersey-bred gelding trained by Alicia Murphy at Elkridge-Harford earlier in the spring. The duo also won the Grand National the week before.
Davies went out on a high note as the Hunt Cup was the final sanctioned ride of the Grade 1-winning National Steeplechase Association champion jockey’s 1,143-start career.
- The first ever graded stakes to be run at Charles Town – the $1 million Charles Town Classic-G3 – attracted a full field of 10, all graded winners, to the 6-furlong oval. Duke of Mischief, ridden by Joe Bravo, defeated Game On Dude, with Tizway third.
- Top-class sprinter Fabulous Strike, off for nearly 18 months due to a near-career-ending ligament injury, returned a winner in a Penn National allowance in April. His prior start was a second in Belmont Park’s Vosburgh Stakes-G1 in October 2009, a race the Pennsylvania-bred won in 2007.
The gelded son of Smart Strike, bred and owned by Walter Downey’s Tea Party Stable, exited the Vosburgh with the injury and underwent stem-cell therapy at New Bolton Center. He recorded his first timed workout a month before his 15th career win.
Fabulous Strike made three more starts, the last in August when he lost his rider out of the gate in a stakes at Mountaineer, and retired having won or placed in 21 of 28 races, nine in graded stakes, while earning $1,447,804. Now 18, he is a resident at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown, Ky.
- At age 28, Two Punch shot to the top of the region’s leading 2-year-old sires list when his first two juvenile starters won in mid-April – his son Friscan at Keeneland, and the next day his daughter Bluegrass Atatude at Pimlico.
Next out Friscan finished third in Churchill Downs’ Bashford Manor Stakes-G3. Bluegrass Atatude won the Maryland Million Lassie Stakes that fall in her third start.