The 2021 Colonial Downs meet kicks off Monday July 19th and the racing office has assembled a card stocked with full fields and four stakes races to boot. If you’re looking for a little cure for some Saratoga opening week hangovers, look no further than the fantastic turf racing just east of Richmond, Virginia. The nine flat races kick off at 1:45 ET with two non-wagering jump races preceding that are actually listed as the 10th and 11th on the program. I will look to provide full card top 4 picks with detailed write-ups on key plays throughout the meet which runs through September 1st.
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- Race 1: 8-3-10-13
- Race 2: 6-5-7-10
- Race 3: 1-4-5-9
- Race 4: 5-6-2-3
- Race 5: 11-9-3-12
- Race 6: 7-11-12-13
- Race 7: 9-1-3-2
- Race 8: 10-9-3-2
- Race 9: 5-13-7-12
Colonial Downs Race 2: Clouds of White (#6)
A full field of 14 two-year-old’s has been drawn for the first juvenile race of the 2021 Colonial Downs meet. Only four of the runners have a start under their belt and of those just Six o’Clock Sarah (#11) has raced more than once. She’s not without hope, but I prefer both of the runners who have lined up against her previously and also end up in this field. Last time out Thunder Boss (#7) broke slowly and made up a ton of ground in the slop at Pimlico eventually overtaking the aforementioned runner for second. Often times sloppy track form can translate to turf and this filly is well connected with leading Mid-Atlantic trainer Brittany Russell and Kentucky Oaks winning owner Joel Politi of Serengeti Empress fame. Speaking of well connected, the first-time starter I will be including most prominantly is exactly that. Mike Stidham shared the 2019 Colonial Downs training title with Jamie Ness and was well on his way to repeating in 2020 before a COVID-19 outbreak cut the meet short after just seven racing days. During those seven days, he managed to send out three first time starter winners and he looks to do just that here with Rambert (#5). However, I am taking a shot with second time starter Clouds of White (#6). I think this Michael Trombetta trainee got a good education in her debut and should improve with experience and a surface switch. Her last start saw her get steadied a bit midway around the far turn, but she rallied strongly late in the stretch and actually galloped out near the winner despite being defeated 10 lengths. The switch to turf will help as she is a out of a dam who produced not one, but two runners who show up in the turf sprint stakes later on the card in Sky Magician and Sky’s Not Falling.
Colonial Downs Race 5: So Street (#11)
The stakes action heats up with the Meadow Stable Stakes and it is a wide open affair. I guess the race begins with ML favorite Elusive Mischief (#3) who is simply dropping out of much tougher races for Ian Wilkes. I prefer him to the other short price on the morning line Boldor (#7), as his latest was too concerning to play him off of. Grateful Bred (#9) is very intriguing second off the bench with a facile win at Pimlico to kick off his five-year-old campaign. He will be all over my tickets after showing a new dimension last out sitting just off the speed and pouncing in the lane. However, I’ve gone to a runner just a couple doors down in So Street (#11). He too has been keeping solid company in the Mid-Atlantic and his form is a bit more dirtied up than it appears on the surface. It appeared he needed one off the layoff when catching a tough field in the King Leatherbury in late April. He actually ran quite well to be fifth in the Turf Sprint on the Preakness undercard at 62-1. Toss the off-the-turf race two back and his latest was a winning effort but was left with too much to do after being shuffled back at a very key juncture on the far turn. I’d prefer him a bit more at a flat 5 than the 5.5f trip scheduled today, but he was an eye-catching winner of a turf allowance on opening day at Colonial Downs in 2019 over this distance at a similar price to what he’ll be today.
Colonial Downs Race 8: Larimar (#10)
The presence of the fleet-footer Street Lute (#7) makes this edition of the M. Tyson Gilpin an interesting betting affair because although she has won 8/11 lifetime starts, this will be the first time she tries grass as well having to take on older fillies as a three-year-old. In addition to those rather large question marks, I believe she’s started to tail off form a bit from the winter and the connections are searching for something to shake it up. I strongly prefer one of her main rivals to the outside in Larimar (#10). This four-year-old filly has raced quite well in her last two starts registering wins with speed figures that would be competitive with most runners in the field, however, I believe she will improve even further now getting back to the turf. She was a very impressive winner in her maiden-breaker over this course and distance last year and has the speed to get a good outside stalking position. David A. Ross is always fighting for the owner’s title here at Colonial and this one is well positioned to add to his winning ways. Others to keep involved in multi-race and vertical wagers would be Screamin’ By (#9) who seems to have a class edge on the field as well as Virginia Beach (#3) who they have been trying to get back on turf for a while. My crazy longshot price to throw in would be Envied (#2) who cuts back from a two-turn race at Indiana Grand where the winner and second place runners came back to improve their speed figures.
Colonial Downs Race 9: Flanigan’s Cove (#5)
The opening day nightcap looks to have a vulnerable favorite in Liberty Isle (#9). The Dallas Stewart trainee will be trying turf for the first time and while the breeding leads to the possibility of her handling it, I will channel the late, great Harvey Pack’s advice and not take the favorite doing something it hasn’t done before. The 13-horse affair is not dearth with other options with horses coming from a variety of circuits. While I predict the majority of the money will be focused on the fillies who started last out at Churchill, I’ve decided to go with a different first time turf starter. Flanigan’s Cove (#5) as my top pick as she goes second time out for Shug McGaughey’s barn after getting a simple educational start over the Laurel dirt first time out. Many will be surprised to find out that Shug actually teamed up with Forest Boyce to produce the winner of two races on the 2020 Colonial Downs Opening Day program, including Vigilantes Way who was making a similar dirt-to-turf switch and has since gone on to graded stakes success. Flanigan’s Cove is by top turf sire Kitten’s Joy out of the fabulous race mare Hungry Kitten who took down multiple graded stakes on the lawn including the Lake Placid at Saratoga.
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