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Memories Drive Paolucci with West Virginia Derby Hopeful


Tom LaMarra


Wed, Aug 2, 2017


Date: Aug. 1, 2017

From: Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort


By: Tom LaMarra

Ron Paolucci recognizes how fortunate he was to win West Virginia’s most lucrative horse race, the $1.25 million Charles Town Classic, in April with Imperative, a gelding he purchased privately just months before the race.

But there’s something about a racetrack near the tip of West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle that means much more to Paolucci, the Akron, Ohio, native who operates the growing Loooch Racing Stable. So the afternoon of Aug. 5 at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort, he has entered horses in three races, including the improving 3-year-old colt Game Over in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby.

“I’m not demeaning Charles Town in any way,” Paolucci said Aug. 1. “The Classic is a big race. It’s really more about me. I was a racetrack kid my whole life. I have fond memories of my father taking me to Thistledown (near Cleveland) and then driving to Waterford Park, which is now Mountaineer, at night.

“I can’t remember things from two to three weeks ago but I clearly remember those days—things like driving across the (Ohio River) bridge, spending time with my father, and the smell of that paddock. I have very fond memories. So for me to win the West Virginia Derby would be second best to winning the Ohio Derby.”

Loooch Racing entered three horses in the $500,000 Ohio Derby, a Grade III event for 3-year-olds held June 24 at ThistleDown Racino. Game Over did the best of the three with a fifth-place finish, but Paolucci believes the colt will improve upon his even effort in the 1 1/8-mile event.

Game Over drew the inside post position in the Grade III West Virginia Derby, also at 1 1/8 miles. He will make his first start for a new trainer, Jorge Navarro, the leading conditioner at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.

“I moved him to Navarro right after the Ohio Derby,” Paolucci said. “I actually wanted to aim for the (Grade I Haskell Invitational) but he needed to have another work. With Navarro, you need to give a horse time to get acclimated to the program.

“I think it will be an interesting race. I don’t know whether the rail will be a help or hindrance for him, but with Navarro training him I think he’ll probably be more forwardly placed. We also have Deshawn Parker in to ride him, and Deshawn just knows that track so well.”

Loooch Racing Stable also has two mares—Factory of Faith and Unbridled Courage—entered in the $75,000 West Virginia Senate President’s Cup on the turf, and Moonshine Promise in the final race of the Saturday program at Mountaineer, a West Virginia-bred allowance race for fillies and mares.

Paolucci will be paying close attention to racing in upstate New York as well Aug. 5. His 5-year-old gelding War Story, who finished a close third in the 2015 West Virginia Derby, is expected to compete in the $1.2 million Whitney Stakes, a Grade I event at Saratoga Race Course.

War Story, also trained by Navarro, in his last start won the Grade II Brooklyn Invitational Stakes at Belmont Park, and before that finished third behind his stablemate in the Charles Town Classic.

“To say he’s training unbelievably would be an understatement,” Paolucci said of War Story. “He’s going into the race as a horse can go into the race. He was part of amazingly deep 3-year-old class, with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, and has just become a very consistent horse. He’s getting better with age.”

Loooch Racing Stable has horses at all levels, something Paolucci enjoys given his roots. The owner also has become very involved in the Ohio-bred program; on July 23 one of his purchases, the 3-year-old filly Nikki My Darling, won the $75,000 Queen City Oaks at Belterra Park near Cincinnati, Ohio.

For more information contact Tom LaMarra at or at 859-492-8365.


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