CHESTER - Romance Argentino made it look easy in Friday's featured 2-mile marathon, taking the lead a few strides out of the gate and coasting home a 14-length winner.
The $30,000 starter allowance event was run amidst a snow squall on a muddy track, but the 3-year-old gelding handled the footing and weather conditions without any problems, clocking a final time of 4:08.34. Jockey Christian P. Pilares utilized a hand ride for the entire, and never as much as cocked his whip.
Romance Argentino was sent away the 8-5 favorite and returned $5.20, $3 and $2.80 across the board. Sean Who was second and Spiritwood finished third. His $17,700 share of the purse was Romance Argentino's largest paycheck to date, as he gained his seventh win in 13 career starts for owner/trainer Eduardo Caramori.
Although he took his tack southward to Tampa Bay Downs in mid-November, Deshawn Parker once again led the Mountaineer jockey colony in wins in 2012, with 281. Parker's strike rate at the Hancock County track was 25.6 percent.
Combine all the tracks Parker has ridden at this year and his win total was 305, putting him fourth in the North American standings behind Russell Baze, Ramon Dominguez and Javier Castellano. Second place in the Mountaineer jockey standings went to Jareth Loveberry, with 195 wins, and third position went to Terry D. Houghton, with 185.
The leading trainer at Mountaineer this year was Douglas E. Shanyfelt, who registered 53 victories. William N. Martin finished second in the standings, with 39, and Jeff A. Radosevich was third, with 35. Special note should also be made of Louis V. Ruberto Jr., who finished sixth with 29 wins, but whose strike rate was a remarkable 41.4 percent. This was the second time in three years that Ruberto's strike rate at Mountaineer has exceeded 40%.
John's Burger, the 8-year-old gelding that provided Ruberto with win 29 on Friday's season-ending card, has made 22 career starts at Mountaineer, from which he has gained 11 victories. Back in 2009, John's Burger finished second by just a length to Ravalo in the Harvey Arneault Memorial Stakes on the West Virginia Derby undercard. The overall career stats for John's Burger now include 32 starts, 12 wins, seven placings and purse earnings of $181,317.
Born to Disco's victory in Friday's seventh race was her fourth straight. The 4-year-old filly was claimed for $5,000 by trainer Penny Mathias for owner David A. Hix back on August 6, and has been undefeated since then. Born to Disco's purse earnings during her win streak have totaled $36,787. She is now eligible to compete in starter allowance company through 2013 a perfect situation for a low-level claiming horse that suddenly gets pretty good. Jareth Loveberry rode Born to Disco on Friday.