(New Kent, VA --- 6/13/12)--- 2011 Colonial Turf Cup champion Rahystrada will return to Colonial Downs this Saturday in search of back to back wins in the 1 3/16th miles, $500,000 stake. Hot jockey Sheldon Russell, with 14 wins in Colonial’s last four programs, directed the 8 year old Rahy horse to a “Cup” victory last year and will be up again on Saturday.
Among Rahystrada’s challengers are the second thru sixth place finishers from Pimlico’s Grade II Dixie Stakes, which was contested as part of the Preakness Day card. That group includes Humble and Hungry, Forte Dei Marmi, Casino Host, Smart Bid and Air Support. The latter three have direct ties to Colonial’s 2011 marquee stakes.
Air Support is last year’s Virginia Derby (Gr. II) champ while Casino Host finished third, just one length behind. Rider Alex Solis, who guided Air Support to the Derby win last year, is back in the irons. Paco Lopez will direct the latter, who captured the Grade II Munoz Handicap at Fair Grounds back in April. Smart Bid, who has $732,875 in turf earnings, was runner-up in the 2011 Turf Cup. Two time Colonial riding champ Edgar Prado will be in the irons.
Humble and Hungry, who lost by 2 ½ lengths to Hudson Steele in the recent Dixie, has Ramon Dominguez up top while Roger Attfield’s Forte Dei Marmi, who finished half a length behind Humble and Hungry, makes his fifth North American start with Rajiv Maragh in the irons.
Also in the field is Atoned, whose $541,871 career bankroll primarily comes from 32 dirt starts. Bold Hawk, who at 8 years of age shares elder statesmen status of the twelve entered with Rahystrada. The Silver Hawk gelding is trained by James Toner, who conditioned 2008 Turf Cup winner Sailor’s Cap.
Todd Pletcher has entered Turbo Compressor, who was third in the $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic this past January. Silver Tie Affair takes a big step up Saturday from winning Colonial’s Van Clief Stakes last summer. Joe Bravo will ride the former while Forest Boyce gets the nod atop the latter.
Bruce Brown’s Gourmet Dinner has the largest bankroll of any contender at $1,000,000-plus, but like Atoned, almost all has been earned from dirt outings. Rounding out the field is lightly raced Tilden Lane, who is fresh off a Churchill turf allowance where he was second.
In an effort to bring past Turf Cup and Derby champions and entrants back to Virginia, Colonial Downs tweaked the Turf Cup’s condition last year to allow 3 year olds and up to enter the race. Prior to 2011, it had been open to three year olds only. By doing so though, the Turf Cup lost its graded status.
Highlighting the Turf Cup undercard is the fourteenth running of the $100,000 Edward P. Evans All Along Stakes (Gr. III) for fillies and mares, three and up, on turf at 1 1/8 miles. Graham Motion’s Pachattack, third last November in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic, headlines an 11 horse field.
Completing the undercard is the 12th running of the $50,000 Da Hoss Stakes and the 8th running of the $30,000 Old Nelson Starter Handicap, both slated for turf as well. The pair has drawn respective field sizes of 10 and 11.
A total of twelve races will be contested on Turf Cup night. Colonial Downs will have an early post of 6:00 PM (EDT) that evening and for the first time ever, the Turf Cup will be held under the lights at a scheduled 8:36 PM (EDT) post time. The four stakes being held will comprise an All Stakes, All Turf Pick-4 wager, covering races 4 thru 7.