(NEW KENT, VA — 1/11/12) — Colonial Downs announced its 2013 stakes lineup today and it is highlighted by the 16th running of the $500,000 Virginia Derby (Gr. II).
A total of $1,755,000 in purse monies will be up for grabs from 16 stakes races. For the third straight year, Director of Racing Tyler Picklesimer has bundled many of the stakes into three high profile days during the five week summer campaign, headlined by Virginia’s Derby Day program on July 13th.
That card will again be held in the evening, at 5 PM, and will feature a four pack of under card stakes headlined by the tenth running of the $150,000 Virginia Oaks (Gr. III). Also on the card is a trio of $75,000 stakes — the Kittens Joy, Chenery and Tippett. The later duo is for two year old colts and fillies respectively.
The ninth running of the $300,000 Colonial Turf Cup (Gr. II) is slated for Saturday June 22nd along with a trio of under card stakes. The Turf Cup, which made its debut in 2005 exclusively for three year olds, earned Grade II status in 2009 but lost its grade in 2011 when conditions were tweaked to include three year olds and up in an effort to attract past champions. A pair of impressive horses, Rahystrada and Turbo Compressor, captured the stake’s two ungraded editions and as a result, the Turf Cup earned Grade II status once again for 2013.
The Turf Cup under card includes the $100,000 Edward P. Evans All Along Stakes (Gr. III), the $75,000 Da Hoss Stakes and the $30,000 Old Nelson Starter Handicap.
The third and final race bundle is a grouping of five $50,000 Virginia-bred stakes on Saturday July 6th. Billed as the $250,000 Commonwealth Turf Fest, the quintet includes the Punch Line, Oakley, Bert Allen, Brookemeade and Jamestown, all of which will be contested over the Secretariat Turf Course. The Brookemeade is the only stakes race that will have run in each of Colonial’s 17 thoroughbred seasons.
Rounding out the stakes slate is a Grade III NSA jump event on opening day, the $50,000 “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. III), and a Ladies Night stakes on June 29th, the $75,000 Buckland Stakes.
There are several changes to the 2013 stakes program from past years. Purses for the Colonial Turf Cup and Virginia Derby have been reduced to help boost the level for overnight races. The Turf Cup will drop to $300,000 from $500,000 while the Derby will have a $500,000 purse as opposed to $600,000.
Two local stakes, the Daniel Van Clief and Chesapeake, will be on hiatus for 2013 while another pair will see their distance increase. The Brookemeade, at the request of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, increases to 1 1/16ths miles from one mile, while the Kitten’s Joy increases by 3 ½ furlongs, from 1 1/16th miles to 1 ½ miles.
“I have always felt there has been a gap in our stakes schedule for older boys going a route on the turf,” said Director of Racing Tyler Picklesimer. “I think the change to 12 furlongs in the Kitten’s Joy will fill that void and afford those horses an opportunity to compete for black type earnings and should be well received by horsemen in the region.”