VIRGINIA-BRED STAKES ACTION HIGHLIGHTS FIRST SATURDAY CARD AT COLONIAL DOWNS
Virginia-bred runners are featured Saturday night at Colonial Downs in four $100,000 stakes races, all to be contested over the Secretariat Turf Course and are the first such races to be run in the Commonwealth since 2013. Under new ownership of Peninsula Pacific Entertainment and renovated facilities, this meeting marks the re-birth of racing in the Old Dominion state. In addition to the four stakes races, there will be two Steeplechase contests as part of an expanded 11-race card that starts at 5 PM (ET).
The deepest of the stakes quartet may be the Edward P. Evans which goes as the 10th race. The one-mile event attracted a field of nine, the most interesting of which is James Hackman’s and Glenn Thompson’s Two Notch Road. The career earner of more than half a million dollars has been a monster in Virginia-bred stakes, winning one in four straight years most recently in 2017 when he captured the Meadow Stable. Tomas Mejia rides the Glenn Thompson-trained gelding.
Among the others looking to add to their resumes are Morgan’s Ford Farm’s River Deep, the fourth-place finisher in this event last year who went on to win $75,000 Bert Allen Stakes by 8-1/2 lengths when it was taken off the turf and run over a sloppy Laurel Park surface. A winner in six of his 20 starts, the Phil Schoenthal-trained son of Arch will have his regular jockey Sheldon Russell aboard; and Mary Slade’s Runninginthevale, the Fear the Cape gelding finished second to River Deep in last year’s Bert Allen and ran third the year before. Jevian Toledo gets the call from trainer Gary Capuano.
The distaff counterpart to the Evans is the Nellie Mae Cox Stakes, carded as Race 9. A field of 10 will line up for the one-mile test including Fig Tree Farm’s Sweet Sandy, a four-time winner topped by a victory in the 2017 edition of the $75,000 William Backer Stakes for Virginia-breds. The Michael Gorham-trained daughter of Flatter has earned $143,192 and will be ridden by Mychel Sanchez.
The richest mare in the field is AJ Suited Racing Stable’s Drop Dead Red, a winner of six races including the open $61,000 Politely Stakes at Monmouth Park. The daughter of Hold Me Back has made seven starts this year with a six-length tally in an open allowance race at Delaware Park best among them. Carol Cedeno will ride for trainer Frances “Tres” Abbott III.
Sprinters take center stage in Meadow Stable Stakes. The 5 1/2-furlong dash goes as the eighth race with a field of 10 passing the entry box including defending champion Homespun Hero, who races in the colors of Tag Stables and Bedlam. The son of Hard Spun has earned of $226,184 for his connections. Mark Shuman trains and J. D. Acosta is slated to ride.
Lothenbach Stables’ Elusive Mischief has a strong chance to dethrone last year’s victor. The Ian Wilkes-trained son of Into Mischief won last year’s $75,000 Punch Line Stakes on a sloppy track. He is unplaced in two starts this year but has been running in open company stakes at Churchill Downs. Sheldon Russell has been named to ride the career earner of $123,747.
Female sprinters will be featured in the evening’s first stakes race, the M. Tyson Gilpin also at 5 ½ furlongs. With career earnings in excess of a quarter million dollars, Danny Limongelli’s Up Hill Battle is by far the richest of the seven entrants. Third in this race last year at Laurel, the daughter of Street Magician was also stakes-placed in the $75,000 Camptown and $75,000 Oakley, all in Virginia-bred company. Trained by Hugh McMahon, she will be ridden by Katie Davis.
Prominent among her rivals is Eagle Point Farm’s What the Beep. Although the daughter of Great Notion has just two wins from 12 starts, she has run well in Virginia-bred stakes including a runner-up finish in $75,000 Camptown Stakes. The Karen Godsey-trained filly will have the services of Forest Boyce.
Colonial Downs will conduct its 15-day meeting from Aug. 8 through September 7 scheduling racing on a Thursday through Saturday format and featuring a minimum of $500,000 per day in purses. First post will be 5:00 p.m. ET.
The highlight of the meeting is the Aug. 31 program of the $250,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby (G3) for 3-year-olds on turf, and the $150,000 Fasig-Tipton Virginia Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, also on the turf.