Scheinman: Charles Town Classic Notes - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Scheinman: Charles Town Classic Notes

For trainer Kory Owens, Uh Oh Bango represents yet another fruit from the family giving tree. A leading contender Saturday in the fourth running of the $1 million Charles Town Classic at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, the 5-year-old Uh Oh Bango is out of the mare French Debutante, whose first four foals all were stakes winners.

French Debutante is a broodmare at the Owens family's Triple AAA Ranch in Arizona, and Uh Oh Bango represents a fifth generation success from her family, which dates back with Owens' father, Richard, who has been breeding for 40 years, to a filly named In the Gate.

“We bought [In the Gate] out of a yearling sale in Washington; that started the line,” said Kory Owens, who brings Uh Oh Bango into the Classic off a rousing third-place finish last time out in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. “You just hope it never quits. The bad thing on this side [of French Debutante's family] is we have only one filly out of the whole side of the family. [French Debutante] is in Kentucky being bred to Smart Strike. We've got a full sister to Uh Oh Bango, Top Debutante, and she's the only filly.”

Looking for fillies instead of colts to keep the potent family line going, Owens recently sold a half-brother to Uh Oh Bango to Nicholas Brady, the former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. In the care of trainer Todd Pletcher, that 3-year-old colt, Ez Effort, broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park on Florida Derby Day by eight lengths, running seven furlongs in a swift 1:22.06.

Uh Oh Bango's sire is another Triple AAA Ranch success story, Top Hit. The leading sire in Arizona – thanks to Uh Oh Bango – Top Hit won the Oklahoma Derby in 2001 for Owens and earned $445,357 before retiring to the family farm.

“For the past 25 years, we've basically been the leading breeders there in Arizona,” Owens said.

What's With the Name?

Uh Oh Bango is named after the late trainer George Bango, who died in 2008 after a successful 40-year career, mostly with claimers at Turf Paradise in Arizona and at Canterbury Downs in Minnesota.

“Almost any time I've run that horse, someone from that family asks to watch him run,” trainer Kory Owens said of Uh Oh Bango and the Bango family. “And he's been at eight different race courses.”


Trainer-owner Fred Seitz comes into the $250,000 Robert Hilton Memorial for 3-year-olds on the Charles Town Classic undercard with an undefeated colt that almost got away.

Flashy Dresser, a 3-year-old by Flashy Bull, is undefeated in two starts, including a gritty score in the $75,000 Rushaway on the undercard of the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes on March 24 at Turfway Park

Seitz purchased Flashy Dresser out of the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale for $70,000, the third-highest price for a Flashy Bull offspring out of that crop.

Seitz, however, believed he had too many 2-year-olds on his hands the following year, and “was trimming the number down. We had too many,” he said.

He put Flashy Dresser in the Fasig-Tipton 2-year-olds in training sale at Timonium last May, and the colt breezed a quarter-mile in 22 2/5 seconds.

“He breezed well and looked like he'd sell quite well, but the post-breeze X-ray showed a chip in his knee,” Seitz said. “The vets at the sale said it was of a garden variety and in one of the better places to have it, but it had to come out.”

Seitz bought the horse back at the sale and sent him to renowned veterinary surgeon Larry Bramlage for the operation.

“He said [after the surgery] he'd never look back, and he was right,” Seitz said.

Flashy Dresser broke his maiden with a powerful six-furlong score March 4 at Gulfstream Park, and Seitz decided he was ready for a stakes try. As the 9-5 favorite in a field of eight, Flashy Dresser showed great courage winning the Rushaway, dueling through the stretch to win by a half-length.

“He's got speed,” Seitz said. “He showed that this winter at Palm Meadows. For a big horse, he's got a lot of speed, so he should be able to handle seven furlongs [in the Hilton].”

The Charles Town race, initially, wasn't on Seitz' radar, but when it was pointed out to him, it looked like a perfect next step in Flashy Dresser's progression. Plus, Seitz had the good experience of getting lucky with the colt at the nearby Timonium sale.

“He has a history up there,” Seitz said with a laugh.


In his formative years as an inveterate habitué of the racetrack, Larry Collmus would pile into a car with likeminded pals several times a week for forays from their homes in Baltimore to the races at Charles Town.

Collmus, 45, has grown up from that track-loving teenager to become one of the most respected race callers in the country. He rose to the pinnacle of his profession last year when hired by NBC to be the voice of the network's race coverage of the Triple Crown.

On Saturday night, Collmus returns to his roots, having accepted an invitation to serve as special guest race caller at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races for the fourth running of the $1 million Charles Town Classic, the richest horse race in West Virginia.

Regular Charles Town race caller Jeff Cernik will handle the first six races on the evening's 13-race card, and Collmus will take the microphone for the final seven.

“I've been following the Charles Town Classic since it started,” said Collmus, who just concluded a successful meet calling races at Gulfstream Park in Florida. “I thought it was so cool that a track I would go to as a kid – that was running $2,000 claimers – is running a $1 million race. Jeff Cernik was gracious enough to allow me to share the booth with him on Charles Town Classic Day.”

Collmus' youthful passion for the sport and race calling were nurtured in Maryland by two of the greats from the state's racing ovals, the irrepressible ex-boxer and handicapper Clem Florio, and the patron saint of the Pimlico press corps, Eddie McMullen.

“I was kind of a hanger-on at the press box,” Collmus said of his early days. “I was still going to high school at the time. I remember walking around the press box and watching the replay shows, and I would do impressions of the different race callers from the different tracks, and Clem Florio told me I should do this for real. Then Eddie McMullen gave me a little room at Laurel Park to practice in. I would lock myself in there and call races. At Pimlico, they would put me up in the Teletimer room to practice.”

By day, it was Laurel and Pimlico; by night, from the moment he got his driver's license, it was Charles Town for Collmus.

“There were a few of us really into horse racing,” he said. “We would take road trips like you would not believe. The majority of those were going to Charles Town. We would be there two nights a week, sometimes three, and almost always on Sundays if I wasn't working in Maryland.”

Collmus began to idolize the Charles Town race caller, Costy Caras, who reigned in the booth for 30 years and retired in 1999 at age 75. Caras had come up under the wing of Fred “Cappy” Caposella, the famed race caller in New York, and both shared a nasal but impeccably enunciated New Yorkeeze.

“He was the announcer there for decades, and he was the coolest guy,” Collmus said of Caras. “I would go up to visit him in the announcer's booth and say hello and wait for him at the end of the day when he came down from the elevator. His wife worked at the gift shop, so we knew where to find him.”

Even before returning Saturday to work the Charles Town Classic, the memories have been flooding back to Collmus. When looking at the names of jockeys coming in to ride in the big race, he realized he also will be back in the company of many good friends he has made over the years – such as Aaron Gryder, who rides Uh Oh Bango, and Joe Bravo, on defending champion Duke of Mischief.

“It's going to be like old home week,” Collmus said, clearly excited, “and buddies I went to high school with are going to be there on Saturday night. I can't wait.”

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