Virginia Derby week is finally upon us at Colonial Downs which also serves at the final week of the 21-day meet. However, before we get to the stakes race extravaganza on Tuesday, there is a solid Monday card on tap which features ten races. A lot on the line in the last few days of the racing season, with tight jockey and trainers’ titles and many more eyeballs of the racing world tuned into the track in New Kent, VA for its day in the spotlight tomorrow.
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- Race 1: 9-6-1-7
- Race 2: 11-12-1-6
- Race 3: 2-9-8-5
- Race 4: 7-6-10-8
- Race 5: 8-7-1-9
- Race 6: 9-7-5-2
- Race 7: 7-8-10-2
- Race 8: 2-3-6-4
- Race 9: 8-7-1-2
- Race 10: 1-3-8-9
Colonial Downs Race 3: Bay B (#2)
This Virginia restricted maiden claiming event features a common race that five of the nine runners are exiting. Of them the one that is likely to take the most play is Amplio Esquema (#5) off the third place finish while having to make a wide bid around the turn. However, for my money I thought Toss a Coin (#9) actually ran the better race that day after getting off a step slowly and having to rally through traffic in the lane which are both items not listed in the short comment of her running line. However, even though that was a maiden special weight event and this is a maiden claiming race, I don’t believe it represents any sort of drop in class since the field is comprised of basically the same set of runners. I wanted to look for a new face in here and that’s why I landed on Bay B (#2) who goes out for a capable barn on the flat or the jumps in Niall Saville. This filly hasn’t done much running in her two starts to date, but the drop from open company maiden special weights to this VA-restricted maiden claiming could be what wakes her up. She stopped abruptly on the far turn in her last start after being in contention for much of the race and now shows up with first time Lasix. Add in a fresh set of blinkers and the fact she’ll get firm ground for the first time in her career, she’s definitely worth a flier at anything close to her 20-1 morning line.
Colonial Downs Race 4: Prince Amadeus (#7)
The maiden claiming event that goes as race 4 on Monday doesn’t feature too many proven options. I suppose Sam in Style (#6) may go off favored here as Ferris Allen is right in the thick of the trainer’s title race, but he disappointed as the favorite last time and I wouldn’t want to take him at a short price. I much prefer his main competition in Prince Amadeus (#7) and think he represents value if these two morning line favorites end up being similar prices on the tote. Prince Amadeus actually crossed the wire first in a turf route at Mountaineer back in June and was DQ’ed for coming over on a rival despite being much the best in that race. His first local try was a good one as he got bet down to favoritism off a 15-1 morning line and ran a respectable third. July 26th was a day that featured a torrential downpour in the middle of the card that caused the cancellation of a few races. When racing resumed, the runners motoring down the center of the lane seemed to be going best and Prince Amadeus dove to the rail in late stretch and it seemed his run was dulled by the heavier going towards the inside. I think any one of his three turf efforts will make him very tough in here. Since this race is light on other options, why not throw in El Mic Tiesun (#8) and Ignite the Night (#10) underneath in exactas and trifectas. Both sitting up there at 30-1 on the ML and who knows if either can run at all, but the former gets a positive rider switch to Horatio Karamanos and the latter comes off the long layoff for a barn in Jason McCutchen that has already scored with a layoff runner or two this meet.
Colonial Downs Race 6: Creative Courage (#9)
This non-winners of 2 since February should feature a fast pace with three or four runners signed on that all do their best running on or near the lead. The speed of the speed could be Uhwarrie Sky (#7) who ran too well to lose in his local try two back after getting hooked in a wicked pace and burying the other speeds before getting run down late and finishing third. He showed a new dimension stalking the pace last time at Pimlico so perhaps those tactics could be employed today, but I think he’ll still get sucked into going inefficiently fast in the early stages in this race. While looking for a horse that could benefit from a bit of a pace meltdown, I turned to Creative Courage (#9). This gelding came off a seven month layoff last time at Presque Isle sprinting on the synthetic in a race that has “prep” written all over it. Due to the layoff the claiming tag was waived that day, so the connections knew he wouldn’t have been taken and now point to a race over a distance and surface he’s much more suited to. His turf route form from the summer of last year puts him right in the mix and this barn has done well from limited starters this year. Reylu Gutierrez has really heated up at Colonial over the past few weeks and I expect him to time his move perfectly and run down some weary front-runners.
Colonial Downs Race 9: Prince James (#8)
The featured race on the Monday card is a N2X allowance dirt sprint for older horses and it features runners coming from all different directions. The horse likely to take the most play are drawn to the inside in Summer Splash (#1) and Kadri (#2). The former was gutsy in victory at the N1X level last out and takes the logical next step up in class and still has some room for improvement as a lightly raced son of American Pharoah. The latter comes in off a blowout score in his last race that if he could repeat would be enough to win here again, but I expect him to not have quite as favorable a set up as he did in that five-horse field. Both of these horses like to be forwardly placed in a race loaded with early speed, and I’m wary to take a short price on either stepping up in class without a major speed figure edge. A logical alternative would be Pit Boss (#7) who has a more advantageous draw today on the outside as opposed to when he was stuck down on the rail over a muddy surface last out. He can certainly win and these connections have been firing all meet, but I went in a slightly more creative direction. Why is Prince James (#8) supposed to be the second longest price in this race? He was actually bet pretty heavily in his last start over the turf, but that was obviously a failed experiment. Two back, he expended too much energy early being rank heading into the clubhouse turn going a distance that’s probably a bit further than he wants. His one turn races three and four back are good enough to win here and I love the seven furlong trip for this gelding that displayed plenty of promise early in his career. Plus, the high-percentage barn of Miguel Vera has proven to be able to ship in and win at this meet.