VIRGINIA-BREDS TAKE THE SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT AT COLONIAL DOWNS
Eagle Point Farm’s homebred filly What the Beep overtook longshot Big Lick Farm’s English Heiress in deep stretch to win the $100,000 M. Tyson Gilpin Stakes by a length, the first of four six-figure stakes races restricted to Virginia-breds highlighting the first Saturday card at Colonial Downs. Forest Boyce rode the Karen Godsey-trained 4-year-old who covered 5-1/2 furlongs over a firm Secretariat Turf Course in 1:03.80.
“Karen does a great job and I’ve worked this horse plenty over at Laurel. I thought we had a really big chance,” Boyce said. “I knew I needed to lay a little closer (to the pace because there wasn’t a whole lot of speed in the race. Luckily we got there just in time.”
Owner-trainer Godsey was both ecstatic and emotional saying, “My family fought so hard for Colonial Downs to get here originally, then fought so hard for it to come back (after a six-year hiatus). The mare’s dam was the first winner I had as a trainer and to win in front of this huge crowd was awesome. It’s hard to put into words how I feel.”
The win was the third in 13 starts for the daughter of Great Notion. She picked up $60,000 for the victory to boost her bankroll to $145,703.
Sent off as the 6-5 favorite, What the Beep paid $4.40, $2.80 and $2.20. English Heiress held the place and returned $7.80 and $3.20 while Pink Pearl was another three-quarters of lengths back in third and paid $2.60
Favorites continued to rule the roost as Lothenbach Stables’ Elusive Mischief made the most of dropping back into restricted company and cruised to a one-length tally over Eagle Point Farm’s Braxton in the Meadow Stable Stakes.
Sheldon Russell rode the Ian Wilkes son of Into Mischief who got the 5-1/2 furlongs in 1:03.72. The 4-year-old colt, who won the $75,000 Punch Line Stakes against Virginia-breds last fall at Laurel Park, picked up his fourth victory in 10 starts overall and the $60,000 winner’s share pushed his earnings to $183,747.
“Everything had to go just right and it all came together for the horse,” said Nicola Ward, assistant trainer for Wilkes.
Russell echoed the sentiment, “We had a perfect trip and once we were able to drop into position around the far turn, he finished up nicely.”
The 2-5 betting choice returned $2.80, $2.60 and $2.20. Braxton, a 31-1 outsider, paid $14.40 and $7. Helen Marshall’s Ready to Run paid $3.40 to show.
Tryon Summer, a Vickie Foley-trained Kentucky invader, took advantage of her Virginia breeding to return to the Commonwealth to win the Nellie Mae Cox Stakes by a diminishing half-length over Big Lick Farm’s Durven. The 3-year-old daughter of Discreetly Mine got the one-mile distance in 1:38.05.
Coming in off a seven-furlong dirt race at Churchill, Foley targeted this race for her Virginia-bred filly noting, “She’s a Virginia-bred and a very consistent, honest filly. We thought this would be a great opportunity for the money and she proved it to be.”
The Nellie Mae Cox was the first stakes score for Tryon Summer who banked $60,000 for the tally – her third in 12 trips to the post – to more than double her overall earnings to $119,595.
The 7-2 third choice, Tryon Summer paid $9.40, $4.80 and $3.60. The fast-closing Durven was second and returned $7 and $5. River Gal ran third and paid $6.
Morgan Ford Farm’s River Deep was moved up to the top spot in the Edward P. Evans following the disqualification of original winner Quest Realty’s Speed Gracer who was placed fourth following a steward’s inquiry and a jockey’s objection for bothering Alex Kazdan’s K D’s Cat Bird in deep stretch.
The adjudicated victory gave Sheldon Russell his second win of the night. The Phil Schoenthal-trained son of Arch won for the seventh time in 21 starts including wins against Virginia-breds last year in the Hansel and Bert Allen stakes at Laurel Park. The $60,000 brought the 5-year-old’s earnings to nearly $300,000 ($295,475).
“It’s not really the way you want to win but a win is a win,” Russell said. “River Deep ran his race and ran great. It was always Phil’s plan to bring him back down and I was glad to see it all come together.”
The meaning of the evening was not lost on Schoenthal, “What’s special about this day is that it rewards all the breeders that hung in there for all those years and kept on breeding Virginia-breds. It would have been very easy to ship their mares to Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York or everywhere else, so it was gratifying to see these people being rewarded with $100,000 purses in their home state, on a beautiful night, at a beautiful racetrack. It’s a great night for Virginia racing and Virginia horse breeders.”
River Deep, second choice in the wagering at 5-2 odds, paid $7, $4.40 and $3. Black Prong was moved to the place spot, returning $5.20 and $4. K D’s Cat Bird was elevated to third and paid $6.60.