Monthly Archives: July 2015


(Warrenton, Virginia — 7/30/15)—-The Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) confirmed yesterday that six days of pari-mutuel horse racing will be contested in the Commonwealth between September 19 and October 24 this Fall.Great Meadow, located in The Plains, will host two of the events. “Virginia Downs Racing” will take place Sunday, September 20th and the 78th edition of the International Gold Cup will be held on Saturday, October 24th.

“Virginia Downs Racing” is a new event that will feature six flat turf races with distances ranging from 1 1/8 to 1 1/2 miles for maidens, allowance horses and starters. Festivities will start at 2 PM and tailgating options/pricing will be announced soon. The Fauquier SPCA is the non-profit partner for “Virginia Downs Racing” and will receive a portion of proceeds from tailgating ticket sales.


The Fall edition of the International Gold Cup will again feature steeplechase races but like the 2015 spring edition, will also include a minimum of three flat races. Sponsor/corporate tent and tailgating tickets can be purchased at or by calling 540-347-2612. The Gold Cup, which moved to its current location at Great Meadow in 1985, highlights the annual Fall steeplechase season.

“We’re excited to host the inaugural “Virginia Downs Racing” at such an established venue like Great Meadow,” said Debbie Easter, Executive Director of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association and President of the VEA. “For horsemen and fans alike that have attended past Gold Cup events, they will find this new event to be a bit more laid back and contained primarily to the “Members Hill” along the finish line area. Fans should be quite pleased with the affordable tailgating prices once they go on advance sale” added Easter. “We want to make this a day where families and friends can drive their car right in and tailgate from a trackside area, enjoy thoroughbred racing with big fields, and of course wager on those races.”


The other four race days scheduled this Fall will take place at the Oak Ridge Estate in Arrington, Virginia, located off Route 29 between Charlottesville and Lynchburg. Harness races will be contested over Oak Ridge’s one mile dirt oval on back to back weekends —  October 10/11 and 17/18.


Highlight of the meet is the Virginia Breeder’s stakes, which will showcase eight separate divisions of two and three year old pacers and trotters of both sexes. Prep and elimination races will take place the first weekend while championship races in each division will battle on closing Sunday. Over $300,000 (est.) in purse monies will be up for grabs on “Champions” Day.


Pari-mutuel harness racing was previously held at the Oak Ridge Estate in September, 2001 when a nine day campaign was held over three straight weekends. The 200 year old property is most recently known as host site for the popular Lockn’ Music Festival which returns for a four day run September 10-13.


The Virginia Equine Alliance is dedicated to promoting, sustaining and expanding thoroughbred and standardbred racing and breeding in Virginia. The Alliance is comprised of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association (VTA), the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association (VAHBPA), the Virginia Gold Cup, and the Virginia Harness Horsemen’s Association (VHHA). For more information, visit



Racing Commission Meeting Recap: 5 Key Updates

The regular monthly meeting of the Virginia Racing Commission (VRC) took place July 29 at the Patrick Henry Building in downtown Richmond. Five key agenda items were addressed and approved: A day of thoroughbred racing at Great Meadow on September 20th along with continuation of owner bonuses (from the Virginia Breeders’ Fund) at that event; a four day harness meet at Nelson County’s Oak Ridge Estate in mid-October; the Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) budget; and additional monies to go towards purses for three graded stakes races (that have been run in Virginia in the past but will be run in Maryland this fall).

Both new events, at Great Meadow and Oak Ridge, had lease agreements unanimously approved based on the financial terms with each as they conform to the VEA budget.

Licensing approvals

The VRC granted a license for one day of pari-mutuel flat racing for the Great Meadow event on September 20th, which was submitted by the Gold Cup. In addition to the annual spring and fall Gold Cup race programs, this will become the Gold Cup’s third wagering card of 2015.

The VRC also approved a four day pari-mutuel harness racing season, which will return to Oak Ridge for the first time since 2001. The fall meet will be held on Oct. 10 – 11 and Oct. 17 – 18, with purses to be provided by the Virginia Harness Horsemen’s Association (VHHA).  The VEA will lease the Oak Ridge property for a total of $80,000, or $20,000 per race day. Oak Ridge representative Heather Goodwin expressed excitement over racing’s return and her desire to work with the VEA.

Budget approvals

The VEA budget was approved after much discussion.  VEA Executive Director Jeb Hannum outlined the budget in detail which included categories like race day operating expenses, venue lease payments, event insurance, administrative expenses, re-engineering of the equestrian area at Morven Park, capital improvements at Morven (adding a paddock, inner rail, fencing, etc.), contributions to thoroughbred & harness horse retirement programs and repayment of the loan (to VEA from HBPA) among other budget items.

Grades stakes races

The final topic generated the most discussion among commissioners. At the July 1 VRC meeting, approval was granted for the HBPA to dedicate $450,000 to four open graded stakes races which had been run in Virginia previously, but are scheduled to be relocated to Maryland this year so their current graded status can be maintained. (If a stakes race is not run in two consecutive years, it loses its grade.) Since the Colonial flat meet was not held in 2014, these four stakes will be in jeopardy of losing their graded status if not held in 2015. The quartet includes a pair of Grade II stakes, the Old Dominion Derby and Old Dominion Turf Cup, and a pair of Grade III’s, the Old Dominion Oaks and the All Along Stakes. When held at Colonial Downs, the first three were respectively called the Virginia Derby, Colonial Turf Cup and Virginia Oaks.

According to VAHBPA Executive Director Frank Petramalo, the Maryland Jockey Club was going to match the $450,000 approved by the VRC to create a $900,000 purse pool for the four stakes, subject to approval of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. In recent days, the Maryland horsemen have become hesitant to dedicate the $450,000 due to an overpayment of the purse account earlier this year, so a revised plan was presented at Wednesday’s VRC meeting.

The first revision results in a $50,000 purse increase for the All Along Stakes from $100,000 to $150,000. Maryland would cut three minor stakes from its fall schedule and that purse money would be redirected into the All Along purse. That stakes race would be held at Laurel on Sept. 12.

The second revision would have the VAHBPA solely fund the other three stakes in full ($800,000), and in return, Maryland would allow the VAHBPA to keep revenues from wagering on those races. Mr. Petramalo was not seeking a formal approval from the VRC on this issue, but more of a blessing to move forward, which he received. In Laurel’s proposed fall stakes schedule, the $400,000 Derby and $250,000 Turf Cup would be carded on Sept. 19th and the $150,000 Oaks would be conducted on the previously approved Virginia-bred Stakes Day on Sept. 26.

From 2005 – 2013, the VAHBPA  dedicated $13.2 million toward Derby & Turf Cup purses in order to obtain graded status and keep it. “When we hold these stakes in Virginia next year at Morven Park (in Leesburg), we want to come back with a splash,” said Petramalo. “We need to keep the current grades in order to make that happen.”

Even with the Commission’s blessing, there still is a potential snag that could hinder the move of the three stakes from Virginia to Maryland this fall and it hinges on the Virginia Derby’s registered trademark. “Colonial Downs notified the Maryland Jockey Club that by hosting the Derby at Laurel, even named as the Old Dominion Derby, it would infringe on their current trademark,” said Petramalo. That issue will be resolved sooner than later since Maryland will need to get a condition book out in the near future for their fall races.

Racing Recap: Stakes winners, MSWs and near misses

Virginia-bred made it a hat trick in the Saskatchewan Lotteries Handicap at Marquis Downs on Saturday, lodging a driving victory by the better part of 3 lengths. Owned by Wind Dancer Stable and Bill Meikle, the 3-year-old gelding is by Larry Johnson’s Legacy Farm’s Street Magician and out of the Nureyev mare Dance Gaily. He was adding to a 4-length allowance victory at this same venue and a 2 3/4-length maiden win at Assiniboia last month.

Meanwhile, at Saratoga, Morgan’s Ford Farm enjoyed a first-out maiden special weight winner with Realm, a 2-year-old son of Haynesfield, now owned by Eric Dater, Barclay Tagg and Harry Astarita. Out of the Chief’s Crown mare Shawnee County, the bay colt lodged a 1 3/4-length victory after dueling in the straight.

Quest Realty’s homebred Nancy’s Gone Wild ticked off her first victory in a MSW at Charles Town on Friday, leading gate to wire in a 2 3/4-length victory over six rivals. The 3-year-old was making her third lifetime start–she had lodged two seconds at Penn National and Laurel last fall. By Offlee Wild, the bay miss is out of the Soto mare Nancy Z.

Across the county, a pair of valiant near misses: Appealing Tale, bred by Susie and Pug Hart, barely missed in the Grade II San Diego Handicap.


Appealing Tale was short by a neck in the Grade II San Diego Handicap.


The 5-year-old son of Tale of the Cat is multiple graded-stakes placed, including a second-place finish to Masochistic in the Grade I Triple Bend at Santa Anita last month. A head short to Catch a Flight here, Appealing Tale left the well-regarded Bayern in third and brought his lifetime earning to $383,222.

In the Monroe Handicap at Gulfstream, Virginia-bred Quiet Hour got up for third. Bred by Carolyn Nicewonder Beverly, the son of Quiet American out of the Salt Lake mare Gone to Utah is a multiple stakes placed earner of $129,222.

Other winners: Dapper Dan, bred by Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone broke his maiden at Ellis Park on Sunday. By Pleasantly Perfect out of the War Chant mare Wardrobe, the 3-year-old is owned by Jeffrey Stoddard. Pauper’s Queen, bred by Atkins Home, lodged her sixth lifetime victory at Presque Isle on Sunday for current owner Ronald Clark. By Royal Academy out of the Robellino mare Regalino, the 7-year-old came under the wire 3 1/2 lengths to the good.


Ned Evans Named Leading VA Breeder for 10th Time in 15 Years

The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association’s 30th annual National Awards Dinner will be held Friday, September 11 at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms in Lexington, Ky. The National Awards Dinner honors the achievements of Thoroughbred owners in the four major North American racing regions and breeders in 23 states and Canada. For the tenth time since 2000, the Estate of Edward Evans has been named Breeder of the Year in Virginia: 2000, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014, just announced.

TOBA’s National Breeder and National Small Breeder of the Year will be announced at the Awards Dinner.

The following regional owners will be honored:

  • Eastern Region Owner of the Year: Juddmonte Farms
  • Midwestern Region Owner of the Year: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC
  • Southern Region Owner of the Year: Kenneth L. & Sarah K. Ramsey
  • Western Region Owner of the Year: Kaleem Shah

A National Owner of the Year will be selected from these regional owners. The National Owner will be revealed at the Awards Dinner.

The state and Canadian breeders of the year are:

Arizona: Triple AAA RanchArkansas: McDowell Farm
California: Nick Alexander
Canada: Sam-Son Farm
Florida: Ocala Stud
Illinois: Richard & Karen Papiese
Indiana: Michael E. & Penny S. Lauer
Iowa: William Hobbs
Kentucky: Kenneth & Sarah Ramsey
Louisiana: Charles Craig Smith
Maryland: Howard M. Bender
Michigan: Arnold Farms, LLC
Minnesota: Rake Farms
New Jersey: Bright View Farm, Inc.
New Mexico: J. Kirk & Judy Robison
New York: Chester & Mary Broman
North Carolina: Steve Laymon
North Dakota: Bill Maulding
Ohio: 3 Clovers FarmOregon: Dr. Rodney E. Orr
South Carolina: Franklin G. Smith

Texas: Estate of Clarence Scharbauer, Jr.
Virginia: Estate of Edward P. Evans
Washington: Todd & Shawn Hansen

Loudon, Fauquier May Create Quarantine Facility Near Dulles

Loudoun and Fauquier counties are considering conducting a joint study on the feasibility of having an equine quarantine facility at or near Dulles Airport, reports Loudon Business. The facility would act as a port of entry for horses coming to compete Great Meadow in The Plains, Loudoun Supervisor Janet S. Clarke told the publication. The study, if it’s approved, could take up to a year to conduct.

“This would substantially increase the viability of bringing international horses to world-class events in our region, as well as making it more attractive for international interests to work with breeders and trainers in our area,” said a report on the possible facility created for the Fauquier Board of Supervisors. “It is expected that such a project would help grow the equestrian industry in Virginia, would have the potential to increase equestrian-related tourism in the region and would benefit Dulles Airport by adding to traffic in horses and related goods.”

Want to read more? Check out the Loudon Business story here.


Lazy Lane Lodges Double

Lazy Lane Farm-bred horses scored a double over the weekend, kicked off with homebred Rapid Rhythm at Pimlico on Friday. The 3-year-old daughter of Successful Appeal won a Laurel Park allowance by a gutsy nose after a fierce duel in the straight. The Susan Cooney trainee broke her maiden in her debut in March, scoring by the better part of 2 lengths at Fairgrounds.

Strong Stipulation, now owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, put in an impressive allowance win at Delaware on Saturday, despite drifting in the stretch. The 4-year-old Lemon Drop Kid gelding was ticking off his second lifetime win in the 6-furlong contest, paying $9 to win. Strong Stipulation is trained by Graham Motion.

To watch the video, use the calendar to navigate to the 8th race on July 11 here.

Virginia Sire Fierce Wind Has First Winner

Ruxton Farm’s Virginia stallion Fierce Wind lodged his first winner over the holiday weekend when Nellie Mae Cox and Concepts Unlimited Stable’s Frankin Storm broke his maiden by 1/2 lengths at Laurel. The 2-year-old bred by Susan Minor is out of the Storm Boot mare Stormy Heroine and was making his second start.

A son of Dixie Union, Fierce Wind was a multiple stakes winner for Minor Stables, lodging wins in the Challenger Stakes and the Sam F. Davis Stakes. He is out of the A.P. Indy Mare Post Parade. Click here to watch his victory in the Sam Davis.

Fierce Wind.

Fierce Wind.

2 Important Things You Need to Know from the Last Racing Commission Meeting

The Virginia Racing Commission met last week to discuss a number of items that have an impact on future of Virginia racing. Here’s what you need to know:

1. The VHBPA has been approved as the majority horsemen’s representative and the Virginia Equine Alliance has been designated as the industry stakeholder organization.

These were designations provided for under the recent legislative amendments and the Commission approved the groups’ requests yesterday. Both groups have been formally recognized for the next three years—meaning that the Alliance will not have to reapply for recognition until July 1, 2018.

In practical terms, this means that the VHBPA will continue to receive its 5 percent share of Virginia online wagering through TVG, XpressBet and Twin Spires and that the Alliance will begin to receive a 4 percent share of that wagering, which used to go to Colonial Downs.

2. The Commission approved five Virginia-bred stakes and four open graded stakes to be run at Laurel Park in 2015.

The major stakes races formerly held at Colonial Downs will likely move to Laurel Park during its fall meet, thanks to Commission approval. Following discussions with the Maryland Jockey Club’s Tim Ritvo, Sal Sinatra and Georganne Hale, the $60,000 Virginia-bred stakes will run Saturday, September 26th. The $250,000  Grade II Colonial Turf Cup and the $100,000 Grade III All Along will run on September 12th. The $400,000 Grade II Virginia Derby and the $150,000 Grade III Virginia Oaks will run on October 3rd.

The open graded will run under different names this year for copyright reasons—the Virginia Derby will become the Old Dominion Derby and the Virginia Oaks will become the Old Dominion Oaks—and will be presented by and branded through the Virginia Equine Alliance. Because of the configuration of the Maryland oval, there will also be some distance changes: The Old Dominion Derby—usually 1 1/4 miles—will be run at 1 ⅛ miles. The Colonial Turf Cup will be shortened from 1 3/16 miles to 1 ⅛ miles.

The proposal calls for the Maryland Horsemen to put up half of the total $900,000 graded stakes purse money and share wagering revenue generated by those races with the VHBPA. Next year, the races will return to Virginia—hopefully to be run at Morven Park.

There are some regulatory hurdles still to clear: The Maryland Jockey Club, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the Maryland Racing Commission all must sign off.