Fittingly, it was the Virginia-breds who were in the focus Saturday night, the closing night of the Colonial Downs season. Dubbed the “Racing Revival,” the New Kent, Va. meet was the first in the Commonwealth in six years as well as the first under the management of the Colonial Downs Group, a subsidiary of Peninsula Pacific Entertainment.
More than $700,000 in total purses were offered tonight over 11 races, highlighted by five $100,000 stakes events on the renowned Secretariat Turf Course.
Alex Kasdan's K D's Cat Bird ($23.60, $9.20 and $7.40) came from off the pace to run down Black Prong in the stretch to win the $100,000 Bert Allen Stakes for 3-year-olds and up by 1½ lengths to open the major stakes action on the program. Trevor McCarthy was aboard the 6-year-old Courageous Cat gelding who ran the 1 1/8 miles over the Secretariat Turf Course rated firm in 1:48.90.
“I got a really good trip,” McCarthy said. “It seemed like he got into a little trouble last time (Edward P. Evans Stakes here on Aug. 10) so today the idea was to save some ground and to get him out in the stretch. He mowed them down and gave a great effort.”
“I have always been a fan of Colonial Downs since they first opened,” said winning trainer Hubert Gaffney, who scored not only his first victory of the meet but the first stakes score of his career as well.
The win was the fifth in 28 starts for K D's Cat Bird, who earned $60,000 for the score to bring his lifetime earnings to $131,810.
Accountable ($7.60 and $5.80) made a late rally to get up for second by a neck while Black Prong ($5.40) held on for third. Speed Gracer, Ismusbemyluckyday, River Deep, Two Notch Road and Runninginthevale completed the order of finish.
Dare to Dream Stable's Embolden ($2.80, $2.10 and $2.10) scored a wire-to-wire win in the $100,000 Jamestown Stakes for 2-year-olds by 3¾ lengths over Bella Aurora to put trainer Mike Stidham in a tie with Jamie Ness for the meet's trainer championship with each conditioner saddling 10 winners. The win also gave McCarthy his second stakes win of the evening and sewed up the meet's riding title with 15 victories, two more than Horatio Karamanos.
“He really flew out of the gate for me; really jumped well,” McCarthy said of the gray/roan son of The Factor. “He had a little pressure but it didn't faze him at all. He was so comfortable. He was so smooth. He's got so many gears and (he's) just a really nice horse.”
“We've liked this horse from the beginning when we bought him out of the Ocala Sale ($95,000 OBS April) and he's done everything right to this point. We will see where he goes from here,” said Stidham.
Embolden made all the pace in the 5½-furlong dash and stopped the timer in 1:02.80 to get his second win in three trips to the post. The $60,000 winner's check boosted his bankroll to $99,000.
Bella Aurora ($2.60 and $2.20) was up close early and finished a clear second, 7¼ lengths to the good of Appraised ($2.80). Determined Love, Great Camanoe, Taskinas, Twobitsardie, Long Key and Jimmy Legs completed the order of finish.
Making his first start since a sixth-place finish in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes in February, Ed and Susan Orr's Boldor ($7, $3.40 and $3.20) returned to action with a three-length victory over favored Elusive Mischief in the $100,000 Punch Line Stakes for 3-year-olds under Feargal Lynch for trainer Steve Asmussen. The bay son of Munnings covered 5½ furlongs on turf in 1:02.31.
“We had a couple of things (happen) so we had to give him a little rest,” said Ed Orr. “Bringing him back, we always thought he could go either dirt or turf, so (running on turf here) didn't scare us. Being his first time back I thought it was a wise choice of Mr. Asmussen to bring him back in a shorter race.”
“The owners told me he might be a little slower than some of the speed horses so I should let him find his feet and come home good,” Lynch said.
Boldor banked $60,000 to bring his career earnings to $122,367 while bettering his record to two wins from five starts.
Elusive Mischief ($2.80 and $2.20) was a neck ahead of Fly E Dubai ($5). Lime House Louie, Available, Braxton, Ready to Run, Hero's Wager and English Honor completed the order of finish.
Holly and David Wilson's Holly Hundy ($3, $2.80 and $2.40) invaded from California complete with her regular jockey Kent Desormeaux to earn an easy 3¾-length victory over Solarte in the $100,000 Camptown Stakes for trainer Vladimir Cerin.
“She broke on the money,” Desormeaux said. “The 8-horse (Solarte) was the only speed in the race. I was going to let (my filly) be really handy but I was actually slowing her down at the quarter pole. I was full of horse.”
“This is my first start here,” Cerin said. “We almost came for the last one (Nellie M. Cox on Aug. 10) but she's kept improving and I thought she earned the chance.”
The win was third in nine starts for the daughter of Yes It's True who earned $60,000 to boost her bankroll to $145,022. She covered the 5½ furlongs on the turf in 1:02.76 defeating seven fillies and mares.
Solarte ($16.20) finished second a half-length clear of Up Hill Battle ($7), followed home by What the Beep, River Gal, Yes to the Dress, Trappe Me Later and Sophie's Angel.
Saratoga shipper Ferdinanda, who races in the silks of Ann Backer and is trained by Barclay Tagg, made easy work disposing of her rivals, coasting to a six-length victory in the $100,000 Brookmeade Stakes for fillies and mares. The 4-year-old daughter of Giant's Causeway covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.29 and paid $3.40, $2.60 and $2.10.
“I knew I was on a pretty nice horse when I looked in the program and saw the name Barclay Tagg,” Boyce said. “The first part (of the race) I just let her find her own position, find her own way. I just waited as long as I could (before making her move to the lead).”
The pacesetting Tryon Summer ($4.40 and $3.20) was second, 2½ lengths ahead of Fionnbharr ($4.40 and $3.20). Graceful Request, Seaside Dancer, Durven and Wolverette completed the order of finish.
The owners' title went down to the final race of the meet with DARRS, Inc. of David Ross emerging champion with 5 victories, one better than Endsley Oaks Farm.
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