Continuing his success of recent years Virginia breeder Edward P. Evans again headlines the Virginia-bred champions for the 2009 racing season. Horses bred by Evans at his Spring Hill Farm in Casanova earned over $4 million last year while producing four champions.
Evans’ Quality Road tops the list in both earnings and accomplishments and was named 2009 Champion Virginia-bred Three-year-old Male. The colt by Elusive Quality out of Kobla by Strawberry Road (AUS) made his share of non-race-finish-related headlines with a cracked hoof which kept him out of the Kentucky Derby and a mental meltdown that kept him from running in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
But when Evans best three-year-old colt made into and back out of the starting gate, he was spectacular setting track record while winning the Florida Derby Gr. I and the Fountain of Youth Gr. II for trainer Jimmy Jerkens and the Amsterdam Stakes Gr.II for Todd Pletcher.
At year end, Quality Road had made six starts in his sophomore season winning three races, finishing second twice and third once while earning $947,030. The at times unlucky budding superstar was third to Summer Bird and Hold Me Back in the Travers Gr. I and second to Summer Bird in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Gr.I – both run on off tracks.
Evans other homebred Grade I winner, Cat Moves, was named 2009 Champion Virginia-bred Sprinter. By Tale of the Cat, out of Dance Move by Capote, Cat Moves won two allowance races before defeating her stablemate Light Green in the six furlong $300,000 Prioress Stakes Gr. I at Belmont Park. She was also third in the Grade I Test at Saratoga while earning $287,850 from just five 2009 starts.
The Evans-Pletcher team also earned the award for 2009 Champion Virginia-bred Three-year-old Female with Grade II stakes winner Malibu Prayer. Malibu Prayer, by Malibu Moon, out Grand Prayer by Grand Slam, made nine starts last year winning four races including the $65,000 Cat Chat Stakes at Belmont and the $150,000 Chilukki Stakes Gr. II at Churchill Downs. While earning $348,526, she also added a second in the Grade I Mother Goose to Rachel Alexandra to her resume which also included another second place finish in the Grade II Delaware Oaks.
Evans fourth Virginia-bred champion was named on the Commonwealth’s most famous surface – the turf. Pleasant Strike, by Smart Strike out of Colonella by Pleasant Colony, was Evans only Virginia-bred champion to win on his home turf. The 2009 Virginia-bred Turf Champion won the $50,000 Daniel G. Van Clief Stakes for Virginia-breds at Colonial Downs. While winning $142,096, he also ran second in the $175,000 Red Bank Stakes Gr. III at Monmouth and the $125,000 Cliff Hangers Stakes Gr. III at the Meadowlands. All three races were run on the turf.
The late Hermen Greenberg’s Researcher was named 2009 Champion Virginia-bred Older Male on the strength of his wins in the $500,000 Charles Town Classic Stakes (L) and his second place finish in the $100,000 Queens Country Handicap Gr. III at Aqueduct. By Tow Smart, out of Wild Magnolia by Apalachee, Researcher won four other West Virginia stakes races while earning $492,859 for the year. Researcher now races for Virginia’s Kinross Stable of Zohar and Lisa Ben-Dov.
Jim Wilson’s Dresden Farm in Middleburg bred the 2009 Champion Virginia-bred Older Female Rollicking Affair. Racing exclusively at Presque Isle, the then five-year-old by Black Tie Affair (IRE), out of What A Rollick by Rollicking won four races from eight starts at the Pennsylvania track including the $100,000 H.B.P.A. Stakes (L) and the $100,000 Windward Stakes (L). For the year she earned $231,269.
Wayne and Susie Chatfield-Taylor bred Tizahit who was named 2009 Champion Virginia-bred Two-year-old Filly. By Tiznow, out of Never A No Hitter by Kris S., Tizahit made four starts winning two and finishing second once. While winning $161,925, she broke her maiden at Monmouth before earning the place in the $75,000 Blue Hen Stakes at Delaware. The $185,000 Keeneland September yearling concluded her season by winning the $200,000 Demoiselle Stakes Gr. II at Aqueduct in November.
Audley Farm in Berryville has consistently produced champions for the past twenty years and 2009 was no different. Toccet’s Charm, by Toccet, out of Ruler’s Charm by Cape Town, was named 2009 Champion Virginia-bred Two-year-old Male after winning the restricted $50,000 Jamestown at Colonial Downs and finishing second in the $75,000 Dover S. (L) at Delaware Park. The bargain priced $16,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic yearling went on to win $64,650.
The second Audley-bred year-end honoree was Eishin Boston was named 2009 Champion Virginia-bred Over Fences. A specialist over jumps in Japan, Eishin Boston earned$867,713 including two steeplechase stakes – the Kokura Summer Jump Stakes Gr. III and the Tokyo Jump Stakes Gr. III. The now eight-year-old by Cat Thief, out of Mather Miss by Black Tie Affair, now boast a bankroll in excess of $1.6 million.
Sara Collette’s Pageland in Casanova abuts Evans’ Spring Hill Farm and she adds to the list of award winners from that neck of the woods. Collette won the Virginia Thoroughbred Association’s Award of Achievement in honor of producing two-time Virginia Gold Cup winner Salmo. Salmo has now earned over $193,000 while racing just 33 times in nine seasons. By Northern Baby, out of Melantha by Vast Empire, Salmo won the four mile timber classic in 2007 and 2009. In his only start in between those two victories, he lost the International Gold Cup by a neck to Bubble Economy.
Finally, the Virginia Equine Hall of Fame welcomes a new member as Paul Mellon’s Java Gold joins the ranks of the Commonwealth’s best Thoroughbreds. By Key To The Mint, out of Javamine by Nijinsky II, Java Gold skipped the Triple Crown like so many other three-year-olds managed by Mellon and trainer Mack Miller and then won three Grade I stakes – the Travers, the Whitney and the Marlboro Cup Invitational. Java Gold retired from racing with earnings of $1,908,832. He won or paced in nine graded stakes and was out of the money just twice (both times he was fourth) in 15 career starts over his two-year racing career.