|HAPPY DRUNK (Coady Photography)|
Russell, the 2011 jockey champ, connected early on with Versailles Fox, a Ham Smith trainee that earned his fourth straight “in the money” finish. The 3 year old Sun King gelding was making his first start on turf.
After a three race drought, Russell reeled off a natural hat trick, scoring with Hangingbyathread in the fifth, Nag Nag Nag in the sixth and Fancy Footsteps in the seventh. The former and latter are both classy older horses, having combined for 52 “in the money” finishes between them and $520,000 in purse winnings. The middle victor on the other hand was making just her third life start and gave trainer Smith a two win afternoon.
Russell’s fifth triumph came atop Kathleen O’Connell’s Happy Drunk in a strong come from behind effort. Little Piasano carried front running status through the top of the stretch while Russell’s charge languished near the back, but began charging strong on the outside. Happy Drunk continued accelerating and took command in the final one-sixteenth. The 4 year old Pleasant Tap filly won by 3 3/4 lengths over Water Ice in 1:45.67.
With two weeks to go, Russell leads Karamanos in wins, 39-22. Forest Boyce has 19 and Richard Monterrey is fourth with 18.
Colonial Downs hosts the fifteenth running of the $600,000 Virginia Derby (Gr. II) this coming Saturday July 21st. A 14 race program, which includes an All-Stakes, All-Turf Pick-5, will begin at 5 PM. Post time for the Derby itself is 8:38 PM.