(NEW KENT, VA) — Trainer Dale Romans, who conditioned two past Virginia Derby champions in Kitten’s Joy and Paddy O’ Prado, heads the 2012 Derby (Gr. II) nomination list with five. A total of 29 three year old horses were nominated to the turf stake’s fifteenth running, slated for next Saturday July 21st at Colonial Downs.
Three of Romans’ five are entered in the American Derby (Gr. III) at Arlington on Saturday (July 14). Silver Max, winner of five straight on grass, Quick Wit, with two “in the money” finishes after a recent surface switch from dirt, and Cozzetti, who finished seventh in the Preakness, all have entered. His other pair, Dullahan and Finnegans Wake, are both owned by Jerry Crawford’s Donegal Racing group who captured Colonial’s 2010 Turf Cup and Virginia Derby with Paddy O’Prado. The former was third in the Kentucky Derby and seventh most recently in the Belmont, while the latter finished fourth to stablemate Silver Max in the Grade II American Turf at Churchill May 4th.
Christophe Clemente, who trained ’08 Virginia Derby winner Gio Ponti, nominated Easy Crossing and Summer Front, both impressive turf candidates. The first, an English Channel colt, has two wins and three runner-ups in five turf starts while Summer Front is a perfect 4-for-4 on grass, scoring most recently in the Grade III Hill Prince Stakes on June 16th.
Graham Motion nominated a trio including Howe Great and Lucky Chappy, both owned by Team Valor International. They have respective turf earnings of $227,653 and $154,877. The former was a close second to Summer Front in the Hill Prince while the latter has been idle since a seventh place outing in the Grade II UAE Derby in Dubai on March 31st.
Mike Maker nominated Gung Ho, who captured the $150,000 Sunday Silence Stakes at Louisiana Downs last fall, and Morgan’s Guerilla, who has done well on dirt including a second in the Illinois Derby to Ham Smith’s Done Talking, who also was nominated.
Todd Pletcher, who has collected Virginia Derby wins with English Channel in ’05 and Red Giant in ’07, nominated Star Channel, a son of that ’05 winner.
D. Wayne Lukas nominated Optimizer, who competed in all three Triple Crown legs this spring, and Skyring, who is also entered in Saturday’s American Derby.
King Kreesa, on a roll with three turf wins and a runner up in his last four, was nominated by trainer Jeremiah Englehart. The two most recent wins have come at Belmont and the prior was at Aqueduct.
The post position draw for next Saturday’s Virginia Derby will be at Hooter’s Restaurant on West Broad Street in Richmond this Wednesday July 18th at 1 PM.
The Derby Day card itself includes five stakes and a total of 14 races beginning at 5 PM. Other stakes include the $150,000 Virginia Oaks (Gr. III) and a trio of $50,000 stakes – the Kitten’s Joy, Chenery and Tippett. The quintet will be bundled into an All Stakes, All Turf Pick-5 wager. Post time for the Derby is 8:38 PM. All 14 races will be televised live on HRTV.