CHESTER - Plasma Beam's victory in starter allowance company in the ninth race on Saturday was clocked in 1:09.82, the fastest time for six furlongs at Mountaineer this season. Prohibitively favored at 3-10, the 6-year-old gelding was ridden by DeShawn Parker and prevailed by a nose over Mega Rush. The latter was 11-1 on the tote board, but set quick fractions of :22.04, :44.79 and :57.05 under Luis Rivera. It was the sixth win in eight starts this year for Plasma Beam, who is a son of Smarty Jones, the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner. Plasma Beam began his racing career in California.
He won at Hollywood Park near Los Angeles, Golden Gate Fields near San Francisco and the San Joaquin Fair in Stockton, and was claimed twice before being shipped east. Plasma Beam is now trained by Joe Woodard, and has a career record that includes 24 starts, 12 wins, six placings and purse earnings of $174,305. He is undefeated in two tries at Mountaineer.
AT THE LINE — Plasma Beam noses out Mega Rush in the ninth race at Mountaineer on Saturday. Plasma Beam’s final time, 1:09.82, was the fastest for six furlongs at the Hancock County track this year.
-- Belinda Madrid/Coady Photography
Thirteen stakes races are scheduled at Mountaineer this season. The first two, the $75,000 Independence Day Stakes for 3-year-olds and up and the $75,000 Firecracker Stakes for fillies and mares, 3 and up, will both be run at one mile on the turf on July 3. The Independence Day has a history that dates back to 1953, when it was run on the dirt and Mountaineer was known as Waterford Park. In more recent times, Honor the Colonel won consecutive renewals of the Independence Day in 1998-99, as did Cherokee Prince in 2006-07 and Timeless Fashion in 2009-10. Last year's winner, Kingofthebluegrass, was trained by Tevis McCauley and ridden by Francisco Torres. The Firecracker dates back to 1994. Its first three editions were won by Krissi O, who was trained by Virgil Pritchard, but had a different jockey aboard each time - Desiree Kieser, Scotty Wilkerson and Antonia Costa. The 2006 Firecracker winner, Stormina, was trained by Todd Pletcher. Lunar Miss, who won the race last year, was trained by Eric Reed and ridden by T.D. Thornton.
Through Saturday, 49 horses had been claimed at Mountaineer this year. There were eight claims in March, 21 in April, 18 in May and two during the first two days in June. The vast majority of the claims have been for $5,000 tags, although two horses have been claimed for $15,000 each - the 7-year-old mare Delaware Twitch, by trainer Douglas S. Adams for owner Gary Meyers on May 11 and the 3-year-old filly Chernomorochka, by trainer Robert Fiesman for owner Danielle Agnello on May 27. As the 3-5 favorite, Delaware Twitch was a four-length winner of the optional claiming event she was in. Chernomorochka was making her career debut - as the 11-10 favorite, she led wire-to-wire, defeating her maiden claiming opponents by 23 lengths. Claiming races are offshoots of the "selling races" that existed a century and more ago, when the winning horse in a race was immediately sold at auction ring near the finish line. The historic purpose of selling/claiming events is to safeguard against having a handful of people owning all the best horses at a given track, and winning all the races.
Rapid Redux, who set a modern-day North American record when he won his 20th consecutive race on Nov. 21 at Mountaineer, has been sent to the Old Friends equine retirement farm in Scott County, Ky. The 6-year-old gelding completed his racing career with his 22nd consecutive win, at Laurel Park in Maryland on Jan. 4. Rapid Redux's career resume includes 42 starts all told, from which he gained 28 wins, a pair of placings and purse earnings of $361,609. He was undefeated in four career starts at Mountaineer, all of which occurred during his streak at one-mile distances in starter allowance company, with DeShawn Parker aboard.