CHESTER - A locally-based long shot with a lot of speed is aiming for his first stakes victory today. His name is Go Duke Go, and he's 12-1 in the morning line for the $85,000 Sophomore Sprint Championship at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort.
The quest facing Go Duke Go is ambitious. His eight opponents in the six-furlong event for 3-year-olds include a quartet of stakes winners, one of whom is also graded-placed.
"We'll get to see what Go Duke Go is made of," said his trainer, Jeff Radosevich. "If he can do it, he will. If he can't, he'll let us know."
HAS A CHANCE — Go Duke Go will attempt a front-running victory in Mountaineer’s Sophomore Sprint Championship today.
-- Coady Photography
Go Duke Go has a career resume that includes nine starts, three wins, five placings and purse earnings of $71,795. His last three efforts have occurred at Mountaineer, resulting in a third-place finish followed by a pair of victories.
He tends to exit the starting gate with turbines firing. On Oct. 1, Go Duke Go led wire-to-wire, lengthening his margin to 10 lengths at the wire in a 5-furlong Mountaineer allowance in 1:04.89.
On Oct. 19, Go Duke Go again wired a Mountaineer field, winning a six-panel allowance by 1 lengths. The race chart stated that he set "a rapid pace," then held his lead without serious challenge. Track conditions were muddy, but Go Duke Go's final time was an impressive 1:11.17.
He is a proven speedster on a fast track. He has demonstrated his speed on an off track. And, in handicapping parlance, he is a proven "stayer."
Tonight's weather forecast calls for possible snow showers in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle.
"Let it snow, let it snow," said Radosevich. "Go Duke Go won't mind."
Originally from Joliet, Ill., Radosevich, age 52, now lives in Hiram, Ohio. In his younger years he was a jockey, registering 1,138 career wins. As a trainer, Radosevich has 1,655 career victories, 19 of which have come in stakes. He keeps a 40-horse string at Thistledown near Cleveland, and a 20-horse string at Mountaineer.
Go Duke Go is a gelded son of Jump Start, a Grade 2 winner during his own racing days. Jump Start is also the sire of Prayer for Relief, winner of the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby in 2011.
As a yearling, Go Duke Go was purchased for $8,500 at the 2011 Keeneland September Sale. He campaigns for Jonathan Pippin, a Clevelander, who has been a Radosevich client for three years.
Radosevich said that "it took a while" to get Go Duke Go into gear. The gelding did not race at age 2. At Presque Isle Downs this spring and summer, it took him five starts to break his maiden. In September, he placed in allowance company at Thistledown. After that came his Mountaineer efforts, which resulted in multiple trips to the winner's circle.
To date, 16 of Radosevich's career stakes triumphs have come at Thistledown. Included are a pair of $100,000 events - with Tri Uimet in the 2006 Cleveland Gold Cup; and with Raise the Reward in this year's Best of Ohio Endurance Stakes. Two more of his stakes wins have come at Beulah Park near Columbus.
In August, Radosevich also sent out Global Power to win the $100,000 West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker's Cup, which was run on the West Virginia Derby undercard. Scott Spieth was Global Power's pilot.
Spieth has also piloted Go Duke Go in seven of his career starts (including his trio of victories), and will be aboard him again on Tuesday. The 47-year-old Spieth will be seeking his 125th career stakes win, and his 10th at Mountaineer.