Virginia-Bred (and VA-Certified) runners get their day in the sun this afternoon as there are five stakes races for horses looking to take advantage of this lucrative program. Be sure to head on over to the home page to hear my thoughts on this card in podcast form as In The Money Media co-founder Peter Thomas Fornatale hosts myself and former Colonial Downs paddock analyst and current Parx track announcer Jessica Paquette.
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- Race 1: 5-1-4-2
- Race 2: 4-2-1-5
- Race 3: 11-9-8-2
- Race 4: 2-5-3-8
- Race 5: 8-9-4-1
- Race 6: 1-9-5-8
- Race 7: 5-4-1-7
- Race 8: 6-8-4-5
- Race 9: 11-8-9-2
- Race 10: 3-8-9-1
Colonial Downs Race 5: Carina Nebula (#8)
It’s a very nice 2YO maiden special weight that kicks off the Old Dominion 6 which is a traditional Pick 6 that’s in desperate need of losing it’s state-based moniker. I feel that putting something like that in a bet’s name causes horseplayers to assume it is a jackpot wager and that’s part of the reason handle for the bet has suffered in its first season on offer. I digress. I liked Beyond Oscar (#7) last time, but she could not have been more disappointing finishing a non-threatening fifth in a race won by a 49-1 shot. This filly has a huge pedigree as a half sister to 2019 Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar, but doesn’t seem to share even a semblance of the talent that her older brother possessed. I’ll make the focus of my play a couple of fillies coming in off tougher races at Saratoga and will let price be my guide for who to back on the win end. For advanced pick purposes, I put Carina Nebula (#8) on top assuming like many Graham Motion trainees she’ll take a step forward in her second start. This is another filly with a big pedigree as her dam, Daisy Devine, won over $1M including a triumph in the G1-Jenny Wiley. Sintra (#9) is the other filly exiting a Saratoga maiden special weight where she was caught wide before weakening in the lane. Yet another fun pedigree fact coming at you as this filly’s older half brother Blazing Sevens finished second in this year’s Preakness. I wouldn’t completely discount No Consequences (#1) or Whimsically (#4) and would look to the tote board for some clues on how live they are. The former is a first-time starter for Shug and is a half sister to multiple graded stakes placed Limited Liability. The latter is a second-time starter for Cherie DeVaux who is having a breakout year. This VA-Bred filly took plenty of money on debut to be 5-1 in a full field at Ellis. She had some trouble trying to squeeze through an opening on the inside in the lane, but it’s hard to tell how much that cost her.
Colonial Downs Race 7: Grateful Bred (#5)
I’m excited for this edition of the Meadow Stable Stakes as it brings together many of the best VA-Certified turf sprinters. The horse who is at the top of that list right now is Determined Kingdom (#4) especially after his blowout win in the Punch Line Stakes on the opening Saturday of the meet. He proved that effort was no fluke with a gutsy second-place finish in a salty allowance race last time out, but his speed figures don’t suggest he has a massive edge on today’s rivals. I’m not so sure Grateful Bred (#5) is any less talented and will likely be 3-5 times the price of the favorite. This gelding actually out-finished Determined Kingdom back on June 16th and was only 1.25 lengths behind in that aforementioned allowance race. Madison Meyers is an underrated trainer who does some of her best work with turf sprinters and I like Feargal Lynch named to ride. Those are the only two I’d need to advance in any Pick-X sequence and have no problem putting the longer priced one on top.
Colonial Downs Race 8: Donate Life (#6)
The Jamestown Stakes is easily the most wide open of all the stakes events on the card this afternoon as it’s always difficult to decipher the form of these lightly-raced 2YO’s. Despite being an open stakes race, it’s fun to see that the fillies outnumber the colts 6-2 in this field of eight. In wide open races like this, I’m always looking to upgrade the ones I think will be a decent price and have found a few of those to highlight in this spot. My top pick is Donate Life (#6) who I think will appreciate getting to the turf for the first time for a hot barn with its juveniles in Phil Schoenthal. This filly ran well on debut in a 4.5f race at Keeneland before running poorly in a stakes race at Belmont. Part of the reason I think she will like this switch to the grass just how apparent it was she despised the kickback she was dealing with on the dirt last time out. As a daughter of Munnings out of a War Front mare the pedigree is there for her to move up on the lawn. Usually, I like to endorse runners with experience, but sometimes in these lucrative stakes races connections are willing to send a horse out on debut who can really run. We saw that happen in the Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga where debutante Becky’s Joker took top honors so I wonder if Fielding Lewis (#8) will mimic that move. This Audible colt put in a nice work at Churchill last time out and is a half brother to Tufani, a turf mare running earlier on the card. I can even see using Work Hard (#4) prominently, yet another Audible colt, but this one has significant foundation running twice including a route race last time.
Colonial Downs Race 9: Spun Glass (#11)
Chambeau (#10) is likely to go favored in this spot and she’s certainly been one of the stars of the summer here as she’s looking for her third win from four starts at this Colonial meet. Unifortunately for her, this Camptown Stakes came up a much tougher race than the VA-Certified stakes she took on the opening Saturday of the meet. She’s in razor sharp form, but this is the strongest field she’s faced in her career thus far and she’ll have to deal with other speed on the front end, most notably Caroline Krystyna (#2). Leading the charge in opposition of the feel-good story of the meet is a pair of R. Larry Johnson / Michael Trombetta runners. Hollywood Walk (#9) has the distinction of being the only horse to topple Chambeau at this meet when she was game in victory last time out in an N2X allowance. However, it’s the other one from the meet’s leading owner and trainer that I think will prove best in this affair. Spun Glass (#11) has consistently been tackling some of the top female turf sprinters the East Coast has to offer and returns to VA-Certified company for the first time since she won this very race last September. She’ll get the necessary pace to close into and it’s a rare case where you can get the most talented horse in the race as something other than the favorite. Another I considered was Rambert (#8) who also has been running in open company this year, and while she is a player here, I view Spun Glass as a slightly more talented version of her.
Colonial Downs Race 10: Fulmineo (#3)
The Saturday card closes with a 2YO maiden race littered with firsters and while your guess is as good as mine as to which ones are ready to go first out, I nabbed Deadpan (#9) as the one I’m most likely to use on my tickets. This is a Mark Casse colt who has been training forwardly at Colonial Downs for a while now and first-call rider Antonio Gallardo hops aboard for an ownership group that does well with young horses. However, its a couple of second-time starters that I’ve made my top two picks. The 30-1 morning line is nothing more than a pipe dream, but I do think there are other things to like about Cobblestone Bridge (#8). This colt has a monster pedigree as he’s out of G1W Carriage Trail which makes him a half brother to several turf winners. He ran alright on debut and might move forward equipped with blinkers this afternoon. My top pick is Fulmineo (#3) who was scratched out of a maiden race on the main track last Friday in favor of this spot. I think more distance is the key for this colt who looks like a bigger type who should relish the two turn configuration of today’s affair. He was bet down to 9-5 on debut signaling there’s some talent there and I actually don’t mind the switch to grass. Bolt d’Oro is off to a fast start at stud and that includes his turf runners and we just saw a nice 2YO of his win at first asking up in Saratoga on Thursday. Plus, Dirt-to-Turf, Sprint-to-Route, second-time starters are all good moves for the Delacour barn.
Top Pick: 200-55-38-33 (28%, $1.62); Featured Horses: 81-14-16-14 (17%, $0.95)
Percent of Races Won By: A’s: 50%; B’s: 24%; C’s: 20%; X’s: 6%