A top ten look at three-year olds who have started on the turf in 2011, perhaps with thoughts of the $600,000 Virginia Derby (Grade 2) at Colonial Downs on July 18th.
1) BANNED - In the short field of the yielding Jefferson Cup, he duplicated a stakes win, a rare feat among this year's turf sophomores.
2) AIR SUPPORT - The Transylvania winner always seems to be moving late to the wire. The Virginia Derby distance might be a plus.
3) STREET GANG - Charges onto the scene with an impressive win in the mile long Hill Prince and he's bred for the mile and a quarter.
4) CRIMSON CHINA - It wasn't an impressive margin but it was an impressive win for Motion's colt in the Lamplighter.
5) BRILLIANT SPEED - After finishing third in the Belmont, its believed Brilliant Speed will stay on the dirt, but turf remains viable.
6) KING CONGIE - Never liked his transition to the dirt for the Triple Crown surfaces. Would love to see him back on the turf.
7) THIRTYFIRSTSTREET - He may be thug of a potential Virginia Derby field as his game finish in the Lone Star Derby demonstrated.
8) WILLCOX INN - The Arlington Classic winner may be returning to his 2-year old form when he was on the Juvy Turf board.
9) LIT BIT O FUN - A noble competitor in the spring stakes races, the Oliver win returns him to this list once again.
10) CLOSE ALLY - Battled Thirtyfirststreet at Lone Star, can he get a mile and a quarter?
RACING OF YORE VIRGINIA: Eight years after Secretariat's romp through the Triple Crown, another Virignia bred was making a push for the series triple. Pleasant Colony held off Woodchopper in the Derby and overtook Bold Ego in the Preakness for wins in the first two legs of the Triple Crown. In the Belmont he finished third. He was retired after his sophomore campaign with 6 wins in his 14 starts. His stakes wins also included the Grade I Wood Memorial and Woodward Stakes. "PC" also won the Remsen Stakes as a two year old. Pleasant Colony was owned and bred by Thomas Mellon Evans at Buckland Farm. Ironically he sired Colonial Affair who captured the Belmont in 1993. I had an opportunity to see him and take a few pictures late in his life when he resided at George Grayson's Blue Ridge Farm in Upperville, VA. He died of natural causes on New Year's Eve in 2002.
MAKING RACING HAPPEN...
...is Tony Haines, the gap attendent on the backstretch at Colonial Downs. Tony gets names for the clockers in the morning and helps coordinate racing from the receiving barn in the afternoons. Over the last year, Haines has galloped horses for Michael Matz and worked the Keeneland Sale for Mill Ridge. In the spring he exercised and trained horses at Tampa Bay Downs. Tony is an avid waterskier of the Chickahominy River during the meet.