Monthly Archives: May 2016

Virginia-Bred Stakes & Maiden Events Set For Pimlico On June 25th

Virginia-bred horses will get a chance to compete in a second “showcase” type day in Maryland this year on Saturday June 25th at Pimlico. The event is part of a new “Mid- Atlantic Day” race card that will feature a series of three stakes and two maiden races exclusively for Virginia- Breds. This new program is in addition to the annual Virginia-Bred Stakes Day slated for September 24th at Laurel, where five long time $60,000 stakes will be run.

Away We Go, bred by Carolyn Nicewonder, won the $60,000 Jamestown Stakes at Laurel in 2015. Photo by Jim McCue.
Away We Go, bred by Carolyn Nicewonder, won the $60,000 Jamestown Stakes at Laurel in 2015. Photo by Jim McCue.

“Mid-Atlantic Day” is the highlight of Pimlico’s closing weekend and will include a trio of new $60,000 Virginia-bred stakes — the Nellie Cox (3 & up girls on turf, 1 1/16 miles), the Edward Evans (3 & up boys on turf, 1 1/16 miles) and the White Oak Farm (5 furlongs, turf). A pair of $30,000 Virginia-bred maiden races will also be contested — one for boys and one for girls — ages 3 & up respectively on turf at 5 furlongs. Maryland-bred horses will also be showcased in their own slate of similar races that afternoon.

The third annual Virginia-bred Stakes Day at Laurel this fall will again feature the Oakley, Bert Allen, Jamestown, Brookmeade and Punch Line Stakes.  More details will be available at in the coming days.

Trio Of Virginia Connected Horses Have A Memorable Memorial Day

A trio of horses with triple digit bankrolls — two Virginia-bred and one Virginia-owned, all gave their connections a memorable Memorial Day holiday by adding another chapter to their resumes.

Code West made his first start of 2016 a thriller, edging Domain’s Rap by a neck at the wire in the 1 1/16th miles, $65,000 Jim Rasmussen Memorial Stakes at Prarie Meadow. The 6 year old son of Lemon Drop Kid, bred by Edward Evans, entered the stretch three wide with jockey Israel Ocampo up top. Code West offered a good response, dueled with the eventual runner-up and crossed first in 1:44.16. The upset victor, out of the Saint Ballado mare, Charitabledonation, paid $24.40. It was his first win since a Governor’s Cup Stakes victory at Remington Park in August, 2014. A year earlier, he earned second in the Grade II Risen Star. Code West now has a bankroll of $560,283 from 5 wins, 9 seconds and 4 thirds.

Disco Barbie, owned by Diane Manning, dominated in a $33,000 allowance race at  Presque Isle on Memorial Day

Disco Barbie, owned by Diane Manning, dominated in a $33,000 allowance race at Presque Isle on Memorial Day

Disco Barbie, who has had top three finishes in four different graded stakes, collected her first win of the year Monday in a 5 1/2 furlong, $33,000 allowance sprint at Presque Isle. The Dale Capuano trainee pressed the pace early between mares, split her rivals in the stretch and took the lead for good approaching the final 1/8th mark. The 6 year old daughter of Pure Prize beat six others as betting favorite and crossed in 1:03.70.  Disco Barbie is owned by Diane Manning and is out the Grand Slam mare, Cimmaron Lady. With the win, her bankroll soared to the $381,536 mark. Her goal later this year is to compete in the Grade 2 Presque Isle Masters Stakes, a race she finished second in two years ago.

Disco Barbie is aiming for the Grade 2 Presque Isle Masters Stakes this fall. Photos courtesy of Coady Photography.

Disco Barbie is aiming for the Grade 2 Presque Isle Masters Stakes this fall. Photos courtesy of Coady Photography.

Titan Alexander found his comfort level again in allowance company Monday at Mountaineer Park and scored a one length triumph, his third straight in that class. The 6 year old Not For Love gelding sandwiched a 6th in the Maryland Million Classic Stakes and a 4th in the Bert Allen Stakes between those allowance successes, all of which have come at Mountaineer. Bred by Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin, Titan Alexander started mid pack in Monday’s $18,000, seven furlong test, rallied four wide in the upper stretch and edged away late to cross in 1:21.64. Out of the Cherokee Colony mare, Fabulous Fame, the Jeff Runco trainee has earned $114,130 from 20 career outs.

Titan Alexander, bred by Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin, won at Mountaineer Park on Memorial Day (Coady Photography)

Titan Alexander, bred by Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin, won at Mountaineer Park on Memorial Day (Coady Photography)

Virginia-Breds Win At 6 Different Tracks In Week Leading To Memorial Day

Virginia-bred horses scored wins at six different tracks around North America the week leading up to Memorial Day including a pair during opening week festivities at Delaware Park.

Pauper’s Queen, an 8 year old daughter of Royal Academy bred by Atkins Homes Inc., started the week off by winning a $17,000 one mile waiver claiming race at Presque Isle in Erie, Pennsylvania. The Gerald Brooks trainee was last in the eight horse field at the half before staging a nice four wide rally in the stretch to edge Latika Love by a neck at the wire in 1:38.96.  Out of the Robellino mare, Regallino, Pauper’s Queen earned her 8th career victory from 56 starts and saw her bankroll rise to the $157,900 mark. She broke her maiden back in 2012 at Colonial Downs.

Pauper's Queen connected in a $17,000 claimer at Presque Isle, boosting her bankroll to $157,900. Photo courtesy of Coady Photography.

Pauper’s Queen connected in a $17,000 claimer at Presque Isle, boosting her bankroll to $157,900. Photo courtesy of Coady Photography.

Last Wednesday, Runninginthevale collected a fairly easy gate to wire score at Delaware in a $17,000 maiden claimer, also at the mile distance. Bred and owned by Mary Slade, the 4 year old Fear The Cape gelding triggered fractions of :22.30, :47.98 and 1:12.86 before crossing in 1:39.69. His 6 1/4 length triumph earned praise from the chart callers — “Clearly the best without pressure.” Runninginthevale, a Gary Capuano trainee who is out of the Makin mare, Polly’s Persuasion, earned his first win from a dozen career outs.

Stormin Margaret collected her eighth career win and first at Finger Lakes by beating six other fillies and mares in a 6 furlong claiming race last Thursday. Bred by Rodger L. Smith, the 6 year old daughter of Here’s Zealous took over from second at the half and never looked back, winning by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:13.60. Stormin Margaret was making her 48th career start and took the winner’s share of a $9,000 purse.  She is out of the Smoke Glacken mare, Storm in Philly.

Once More For Love finished with a burst of speed Friday to pull a mild upset in a 5 1/2 furlong, $23,000 allowance optional claiming race at Thistledown. The 4 year old daughter of Not For Love was in for a $20,000 claiming tag and battled in a tight field throughout until her late move. The victor won by 6 1/2 lengths and paid $17.80 to win. Once More For Love was bred Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin and is out of the Buckfinder mare, Classic Contender. She now has a pair of wins and seconds in six starts this year.

Sir Rockport’s victory on Saturday at Delaware Park brought the 4 year old Rockport Harbor gelding to within $4,000 of a six figure career bankroll. Bred by the Legacy Farms and Larry Johnson, Sir Rockport battled eight other contenders in the $38,000 allowance optional claimer at six furlongs. He  broke alertly, raced close to the pace and ran down the leader under pressure in the final furlong. The Tim Ice trainee crossed in 1:10.62 and returned $10.60. He is out of the Partner’s Hero mare, Wonderous Woman. In 17 career starts, Sir Rockport has 3 wins, a runner up and 4 third place finishes.

On Sunday, Virginia-breds connected in a pair of sprints — one north of the border at Woodbine and the other back in the U.S. at Monmouth’s Jersey shore oval. Defondo, a 4 year old son of El Corredor, saw his bankroll surpass the $100,000 level with a two length triumph in a $39,800 claiming sprint while Everything Magic, a 3 year old daughter of Street Sense, rallied in the stretch for a convincing 9 length upset win in her $21,000 maiden claimer. The former is out of the Cure of the Blues mare, Blue Hills, and was bred by Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone while the latter, out of the More Than Ready mare, More Than Magic, was bred and is owned by Larry Johnson. Defondo paid $6.50 to win and Everything Magic, sent off at 15-1, returned $31.80.

Results From Day #1 Of Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic Sale

Topped by a Medaglia d’Oro   colt sold for $600,000, the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale got off to a rocky start May 23 in Timonium, Md., with major downturns in every key statistical category when compared with a strong opening session a year ago.

F-T reported 157 horses sold for $10,715,500, down 17.9% from the first-session gross of $13,047,000 a year ago. Day 1 average fell 33.6% to $68,253 from $102,732. The 72 not sold represented an RNA rate of 31.4%, compared with a 23% rate a year ago. This year’s median was $34,000, compared with $45,000.

“I think everything held from what we have seen in other sales,” said Midlantic sales director Paget Bennett. “Quality offerings do well and others struggle.”

A colt by Medaglia d'Oro sold for $600,000 at Timonium Monday in the Fasig-Tipton 2 year old sale. Photo by Lydia Williams.

A colt by Medaglia d’Oro sold for $600,000 at Timonium Monday in the Fasig-Tipton 2 year old sale. Photo by Lydia Williams.

Noting the expanded catalog this year and that the session is being compared to a particularly strong first session last year, Bennett said F-T would like to have seen a better RNA rate but noted that many of the horses that went unsold were being purchased outside the ring.

“I think there have been a lot of buyers going back and speaking to consignors. … The consignors are here to get their horses sold,” Bennett said.

The session topper was bought by Rockbridge Bloodstock/Brett Santangelo, assisted by Mike Recio of South Point Sales, on behalf of an unidentified new client from California.

“He is a big two-turn horse who makes you dream about the classics,” Recio said. “He should get better as he gets older. He is still maturing.”

Consigned by Cary Frommer as Hip 21, the colt is out of the stakes-placed Lemon Drop Kid mare Kid Majic, dam of multiple stakes winner Miss Mischief. Bred in Kentucky by Allen Poindexter, the colt was bought back for $190,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale.

Frommer said she was glad Poindexter allowed her to enter the colt in the May sale, the second-to-last of six major juvenile sales on this year’s calendar, rather than trying to get him in an earlier sale.

“The owner did the right thing. He is a mid-May foal and had some issues that needed maturing and he waited for this sale rather than pressuring me to go to an earlier sale,” Frommer said. “He’s a lovely horse and we will be reading about him.”

Conspicuous among the RNAs were three juveniles sired by leading sire Tapit  , including Hip 12, a colt from the Giant’s Causeway   mare Jackpot Joanie consigned by agent Randy Miles, who was bought back for $700,000. A fourth Tapit consigned during the session, Hip 247 consigned by agent Eddie Woods, was purchased by EQB for $400,000.

Considering the high RNA rate, it is likely many consignors will be adjusting reserves prior to the second session, even if it means absorbing some losses.

“You have to be very realistic (in setting reserves),” said Clovis Crane of Crane Thoroughbreds. “I want people to buy at a price they are comfortable with and come back next year. I took some losses today but I got my horses sold and the ones that sold well made up for it. Also, you really have to work it to get these horses sold.”

With F-T president and CEO Boyd Browning handling the bidding in the pavilion via phone, Stonestreet Stables went to $510,000 to purchase Hip 162, a filly by The Factor   from the Eddie Woods consignment that was the day’s second-highest priced horse. The bidding provided drama as several times Browning had to ask the auctioneer to hold up dropping the hammer to mark the sale final as the Stonestreet representatives on the other end of the phone decided whether to continue.

Consigned by Eddie Woods, agent, the filly was produced from the winning Roar mare Ramblin Rosie, a half sister to grade I winner Buddy Gil.

The day’s third-highest price of $500,000 was paid by agent Steven Young for Lunar Eclipse, a daughter of Malibu Moon  , purchased on behalf of Oussama Aboughazale’s Sumaya US Stables.

“She is a very good mechanical filly who looks like she will run early, and we’re very glad to get her,” said Young.

“She is beautiful with lots of class and had an excellent work,” Aboughazale said. “She has everything. We estimated her at $450,000 and went $50,000 more.”

During the under tack workouts, the filly breezed the co-second-fastest time of :21 3/5 for a quarter mile.

Bred in Kentucky by Smith Farm & Stable, the filly was purchased by de Meric Stables for $250,000 at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale.

Produced from the stakes-winning Touch Gold mare Our Fantene, the filly is a half sister to grade III winner Javerre.

The final session begins May 24 at 10 a.m. EDT.


Reprinted from

Virginia-Breds Have Nice Showing At Pimlico On Preakness Weekend

Pimlico Racecourse just played host to Preakness week festivities, and Virginia-bred horses were well represented at Baltimore’s “Old Hilltop” with an array of wins and runner-up finishes.

Queen Caroline, Cat Fiftyfive, Do What I Say and Andrasta all got to Pimlico’s winners circle Preakness weekend while Hooligan and Ring Knocker earned runner-ups. Exaggerated also took third in one of Saturday’s under card stakes.

Queen Caroline won the 2nd race at Pimlico on Preakness Day. Bred by the Morgan's Ford Farm, the 3 year old filly was ridden by John Velazquez. Photo by Jim McCue.

Queen Caroline won the 2nd race at Pimlico on Preakness Day. Bred by the Morgan’s Ford Farm, the 3 year old filly was ridden by John Velazquez. Photo by Jim McCue.


Queen Caroline, a 3 year old daughter of Blame, earned her first career win in a $50,000 maiden special weight turf event, second race on the Preakness Day program. Bred by Morgan’s Ford Farm, the winner sat fifth through much of the 1 1/16th miles race in a crowded 12 horse field, made a move in mid-stretch and fought to win by a neck in a great three horse photo finish in 1:46.04. Queen Caroline  edged Private Client by a neck, and third place finisher Tapit Together was just another neck back. Out of the Forestry mare, Queens Plaza, Queen Caroline is trained by Michael Matz and was ridden by John Velazquez. She now has a win and a pair of seconds in three life starts, good for $46,060 in earnings.

Cat Fiftyfive, a 4 year old Tale of the Cat colt, beat 9 others in a Preakness Day allowance race at Pimlico. Photo by Jim McCue.

Cat Fiftyfive, a 4 year old Tale of the Cat colt, beat 9 others in a Preakness Day allowance race at Pimlico. Photo by Jim McCue.

It took just a half hour for another Virginia-bred to hit the wire first at Pimlico. Cat Fiftyfive, bred by the Corner Farm and John Behrendt, went gate to wire in a $52,000 allowance race. The 4 year old Tale of the Cat colt won the 1 1/16ths miles race by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:46.27. The James Lawrence trainee got his second career triumph and his bankroll from just 8 starts stands at $79,850. He is out of the Secret Hello mare, Chemise.

Larry Johnson's Do What I Say scored a two length victory over Lamontagne in a Black Eyed Susan Day allowance race at Pimlico. Photo by Jim McCue.

Larry Johnson’s Do What I Say scored a two length victory over Lamontagne in a Black Eyed Susan Day allowance race at Pimlico. Photo by Jim McCue.

Owner/breeder Larry Johnson’s talented filly Do What I Say captured  a two length score in a $52,000 allowance race on Friday’s Black Eyed Susan card. Competing five turf furlongs in a full 14 horse field, the 3 year old daughter of Street Magician rallied four wide in mid-stretch, took command at the 1/16th pole and won by two over Lamontagne in :57.15. Trained by Mike Trombetta and guided by jockey Alex Cintron, Do What I Say has yet to finish out of the money in four life starts. She has bankrolled $63,000 from two wins, a second and third, and is out of the Parfaitement mare, Not What I Do.

Andrasta won her first lifetime race at Pimlico the Thursday of Preakness week. The 3 year old daughter of Scat Daddy won by 4 3/4 lengths. Photo by Jim McCue.

Andrasta won her first lifetime race at Pimlico the Thursday of Preakness week. The 3 year old daughter of Scat Daddy won by 4 3/4 lengths. Photo by Jim McCue.

On Thursday, Andrasta took advantage of numerous scratches due to a surface change and beat a trio of foes in a $27,000 maiden claimer that was taken off the turf due to rain. Bred by James Sumter Carter, the 3 year old Scat Daddy filly was last at the three-quarter mark of her 1 1/16th miles test but powered home to win easily by 4 3/4 lengths in 1:51.86. Andrasta is out of the Bop mare, Beware of the Bop. Ham Smith is the conditioner and Edgar Prado, who recently returned to Maryland to ride full time, directed the winning effort.

Away from Pimlico last week, October Song won his 13th career race competing in a fillies/mares claimer at Beltarra Park while the consistent Likeness connected at Sunray Park, which followed four solid outs at Sunland. The former was bred by the Lazy Lane Farms and is by Bernstein out of Secret Patriot by Secret Hello. The latter was bred by James Sumter and the Walmac Farm, and is by Ready’s Image out of Gucci Gulch by Gulch. The 9 year old October Song was making her 61st start while 5 year old Likeness was making his 29th.

Capping off a busy weekend, a pair of 4 year old fillies — Hooligan and Ring Knocker — both had runner up finishes on the Preakness under card. Hooligan, bred by the Audley Farm Equine, LLC, was second in a $55,000 allowance optional claiming sprint while Ring Knocker, bred by the Morgan’s Ford Farm, took the place position in a similar $52,000 sprint.

Exaggerated, bred by the Hart Farm, took third in the $100,000 The Very One Stakes at Pimlico and John’s Kitten, bred by Maggie Bryant, was second in the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap at Churchill.

More Info On the Competitive Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic Sale

The Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training gets underway May 23 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium and as has been the trend in all public equine auctions, there is expected to be stiff competition for the upper echelon lots and an uncertain market for the middle price ranges.

Unlike the three juvenile sales held already this year in Florida and one in California, the F-T sale draws from the East Coast and Midlantic regions where horses bred in those states will be in greater demand than they would in other markets, offering the potential for greater turnover at all price levels.

The sale has been expanded from the 325 offered last year. Following the withdrawal of 98 horses originally cataloged, some 500 juveniles are expected to go through the ring during the two-day auction that begins at 10 a.m. EDT each day.

Led by a Smart Strike filly that sold for $1.25 million, the 2015 auction soared over the previous year. There were 255 horses sold for an aggregate $22,659,000, producing an $88,859 average and a $45,000 median. In 2014, 329 horses sold for $19,601,000, an average of $59,578 and a $31,000 median.

The timing of the sale two days after the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) gives the sale a potential positive vibe stemming from the second leg of the Triple Crown.

All signs point toward a strong sale, including the strength of the year’s first four major 2-year-old sales; the recent success of Midlantic graduates such as grade I winners Materiality, Eden’s Moon, Bayern  , and Dortmund; and a catalog of 2-year-olds by leading sires such as Tapit  , Uncle Mo  , and Curlin  , the sire of Preakness winner Exaggerator.

“The strength of this sale in recent years has once again generated a larger catalog with increased quality across the board,” said Midlantic sales director Paget Bennett. “Based on the strength of the catalog and the breezes over a dirt track that were safe, we are looking for a good sale.”

“We are now in a long sequence of strong 2-year-olds in training sales,” said Fasig-Tipton director of marketing Terence Collier. “I don’t think we are expecting anything different. This sale has broad-based participation from all parts of the country due to the results of its graduates.”

Consignor Niall Brennan said he expects a continuation of the trend evidenced in all other recent sales, not just juvenile auctions, in which a small group of buyers vie for the top-end horses and with less demand below the top.

“Although this is the fifth sale, there are always people still looking for horses at this time of the year,” Brennan said. “The top will be as good as it has been in other sales. You have the same people all looking for those top horses.

“Because of its location, there are more horses bred in New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, so it is much more a regional market. It means that it is also a middle market, so this will be a good test of the middle,” he said.

(This article is from & is written by Ron Mitchell)

More On William Backer’s Passion For Thoroughbreds

William M. “Bill” Backer, who after teaching the world that sharing a Coke could bring people together imparted his passion for Thoroughbreds, died Friday, May 13, in Warrenton, Va.

Backer, who was 89, owned Smitten Farm near The Plains, Va., and was a Jockey Club member.

A member of the Advertising Hall of Fame, Backer was best known for creating the “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” in 1971 for Coca Cola, which was more recently featured in the final “Mad Men” show. In recent years Backer, who also coined “Miller Time” for Miller Brewing, had been active in land conservation as president of the Piedmont Foundation.

bill backer - HOV Photography

Backer also continued to work for horse racing. He attended the April 28 Congressional Horse Caucus hearing that discussed a path forward for the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act. A Jockey Club member since October 2004, Backer also served on the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation board of directors and the National Sporting Library board.

Jockey Club president and chief operating officer Jim Gagliano said he was privileged to know Backer.

“Bill was both a pioneer and a giant in the world of advertising and his creative talent was eclipsed only by his personal charm and his humility,” Gagliano said. “He was always very supportive of The Jockey Club and his service as a member of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation board of directors epitomized his longstanding devotion to equine health and welfare.

“He cared deeply about our sport and it was no surprise to see him at the recent Congressional Horse Caucus hearing in Washington D. C. In fact, I told him after it concluded that I knew it was his cell phone that had gone off in the middle of the hearing because it was the jingle from his famous Coke commercial. He just smiled at me, as if to admit he was indeed the guilty party.”

Backer also was a long-time member of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association. VTA executive director Debbie Easter said she would talk with Backer at least once a week as he remained active in that organization until his death.

“It’s a big loss for Virginia,” Easter said. “For a gentleman who could have just sat back and worried about his horses and what he did at his farm, he instead was very interested in helping us make the breeding industry better in Virginia. He was all about what we could do to improve Virginia breeding.

“Obviously he was a very creative man. He was always thinking about how we might be able to do things better for the people who owned Virginia-breds.”

Easter said Backer took great pride in the straw and hay he grew at the farm. The hay won top awards at the Virginia State Fair for many years.

“He was incredibly proud of that,” Easter said. “And when we talked with lawmakers, he always emphasized tying horses back to agriculture. He wanted the politicians to understand that horse breeding and racing is agriculture and it’s tied to many jobs.”

One of Backer’s most successful horses—from one of his most successful families—was homebred Snit, a Maryland-bred daughter of Fit to Fight who won the 1997 Cotillion Handicap (gr. II) at Philadelphia Park and three other stakes.

Snit would produce Backer homebred Blind Date, who counted the 2009 Virginia Oaks (gr. III) among her six stakes wins. The Maryland-bred daughter of Not For Love also won the 2010 Maryland Million Distaff Handicap. After her Virginia Oaks win, Backer said he knew Blind Date was special from the start.

“She was a great, big foal but she handled herself well,” Backer told Blood-Horse. “She was put together right from the beginning balance-wise, and was never clumsy.”

Backer also bred the dam of Snit, Kentucky-bred Princess Roberta, by Roberto, who won four stakes in 1982-83. Backer campaigned the dam of Princess Roberta, Queen Ribot by *Sir Ribot, who won the 1977 Fairway Fun Stakes at Latonia.

Backer, who typically had about 20 mares at his Smitten Farm, also won the 2004 Virginia Oaks with homebred Art Fan. Other homebred stakes winners included Applause, and Applause’s Quiet American daughter Jazz, Crab Grass, and Midnight Call.

Survived by his wife of 33 years Ann, a memorial service is planned this summer.


(Photo shows Mr. Backer on left with Wayne Chatfield-Taylor; courtesy of HOV Photography)

New Owners Bonus Program For Virginia-Breds Begins July 1

The Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association (VHBPA) and the Virginia Thoroughbred Association (VTA) today announced plans to implement a new Owner’s Bonus program that will reward owners of Virginia-bred horses that win an overnight race at  Mid-Atlantic region racetracks. The new bonus program, slated to begin July 1st, will add a 25% bonus to the purse earnings of any Virginia-bred that wins an unrestricted overnight race at a Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, New York or Pennsylvania track. There will be a $10,000 cap on any single reward.

“We hope this new program will help current owners of Virginia-breds while we rebuild our race program in Virginia”, said VHBPA Executive Director Frank Petramalo. “Virginia Breeders have always produced a quality product. This new regional owner’s program added to our nationwide Breeder’s program will help boost the appeal of Virginia-breds in the market place.”  Implementation of the program is dependent on approval of the Virginia Racing Commission at its June 21st meeting but the VHBPA Board felt that it should market the program immediately so that owners and trainers can make future plans.”

Program updates and more details can be found at

VTA/Breeders’ 38th Annual Virginia Thoroughbred Championship Award Winners Announced

The Virginia Thoroughbred Association held its 38th annual Championship Awards reception Friday night at the VTA’s trackside Turf Club Tent on the eve of Saturday’s Virginia Gold Cup Race card. Here is a rundown on the winners for 2015.

2015 Virginia-bred Horse of the Year honors went deservedly to Stellar Wind, bred by Peggy Augustus’ Keswick Stables & Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, Inc. The now 4 year old daughter of Curlin won the Eclipse Award as top 3 year old filly based on four graded stakes wins and a photo finish defeat to Stopchargingmaria in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Keeneland. Stellar Wind was victorious in the Santa Ysabel Stakes (Gr. 3), Santa Anita Oaks (Gr. I), Summertime Oaks (Gr. 2) and Torrey Pines Stakes (Gr. 3). She is out of the Malibu Moon mare, Evening Star.

Hronis Racing's Stellar Wind jockey Victor Espinoza win the Grade III, $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes, Sunday, August 30, 2015 at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Del Mar CA. © BENOIT PHOTO

Hronis Racing’s Stellar Wind jockey Victor Espinoza win the Grade III, $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes, Sunday, August 30, 2015 at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Del Mar CA.

Top 2 Year Old Filly honors went to  Away We Go, who was bred by Beverly Nicewonder. The daughter of Tizway competed only twice last year, but captured the $60,000 Jamestown Stakes at Laurel and was a runner up in a maiden special weight race at Timonium. She is trained by Rodney Jenkins and is out of the Salt Lake mare, Gone To Utah.

Top 2 Year Old Colt honors went to Sticksstatelydude, who was bred by Canyon Lake Thoroughbreds and is trained by Greg Burchell. The freshman son of First Dude had a win and runner-up finish in maiden special weight company at Saratoga and Churchill respectively, then  finished fourth in the Grade I Clairborne Breeders’ Futurity. Out of the Gilded Time mare, Placerita, he finished the year with $82,860 in purse winnings.

In addition to Horse of the Year accolades, Stellar Wind was named top 3 Year Old Filly while One Go All Go was named top 3 Year Old Colt. Bred by Albert Coppola, the Fairbanks colt won the Grade 2 Commonwealth Derby at Laurel Park and in a twist of irony, became the first Virginia-bred to capture that stakes in the only year it had been run outside of Virginia in its 17 editions. Out of the Marquetry mare, See Ashleigh Run, One Go All Go earned $248,400 under trainer Pavel Matejka.

Valid continued a solid career as a 5 year old in 2015, and for compiling $403,660 in purse earnings and winning four stakes, the son of Medaglia d’Oro was recognized as Top Older Horse. Bred by Edward Evans, Valid reached the winners circle in the Fred Hooper Stakes (Gr. 3) and the Philip H. Iselin Stakes (Gr. 3) along with the Groomstick and Harlan’s Holiday Stakes at Gulfstream. Out of the Grand Slam mare, Grand Prayer, Valid added a trio of top three graded stakes finishes and was fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

Ned Evans-bred Valid (Medaglia d'Oro) winning the Grade III Fred Hooper Stakes on February 7. Photo courtesy Adam Coglianese.

Ned Evans-bred Valid (Medaglia d’Oro) winning the Grade III Fred Hooper Stakes on February 7. Photo courtesy Adam Coglianese.

Top Turf Male was Middleburg, a 6 year old by Lemon Drop Kid out of Rum Charger by Spectrum.  Bred by Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone, Middleburg had a solid 2015, collecting $163,200 in purse monies. His two wins came in the Grade 3 Cliffhanger Stakes at Monmouth in August and an allowance race at Gulfstream in March. In 17 career starts, the consistent performer has 15 top three finishes.

Top Turf Filly went to Exaggerated, who won the $60,000 Oakley Stakes in September on the Virginia-Bred stakes day program at Laurel. The 4 year old daughter of Blame was bred by the Hart Farm and earned $87,060 as a sophomore. She also collected victories at Laurel in an August maiden special weight race and in a November allowance test. Exaggerated is out of the Valid Appeal mare, Miz United States.

Exaggerated connects in the 2015 Oakley Stakes for the Lael Stables, who won the '06 Colonial Turf Cup with Showing Up

Exaggerated connects in the 2015 Oakley Stakes for the Lael Stables, who won the ’06 Colonial Turf Cup with Showing Up. Photo by Jim McCue.

Go Blue or Go Home was named top Turf Sprinter based on a triumph in the Grade 2 Highlander Stakes at Woodbine July 5th, the same stakes he also won in 2013. The 7 year old son of Bluegrass Cat was bred by the Morgan’s Ford Farm & Winstar Farm, LLC, and is approaching $500,000 in career earnings. He is out of the Lion Cavern mare, Go Baby Go.

Top Virginia Owned Filly/Mare honors went Diane Manning’s Miss Mischief, who received two Sovereign Awards in April at the Jockey Club of Canada’s annual “best of” showcase. The elite 5 year old Into Mischief mare won both Champion Older Female & Champion Female Sprinter. On November 15th, she won the Grade 2, $200,000 Bessarabian Stakes at Woodbine, which followed a victory in Presque Isle’s H.B.P.A. Stakes. Out of the Lemon Drop mare, Kid Majic, she earned $261,517 in 2015.

Miss Mischief dominating in the Pearly City Stakes. Photo courtesy Adam Coglianese.

Miss Mischief dominating in the Pearly City Stakes. Photo courtesy Adam Coglianese.

Best Virginia Owned Male Horse honors were bestowed upon Dortmund, a Bob Baffert trainee who finished 16th in earnings as a three year old last year with $353,080. With 5 wins from 7 starts, the Kaleem Shah owned colt was third in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in The Preakness. His triumphs all came in stakes races — the Robert Lewis, San Felipe, Santa Anita Derby, Big Bear and Native Diver. Dortmund is by Big Brown out of Our Josephina by Tale of the Cat.

Honors for top Virginia Raised Horse went to Tonalist, a 5 year old son of Tapit who finished 7th in overall earnings last year with a stellar $1,695,000. With victories in NYRA’s Grade 3 Westchester Stakes, Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes and Grade I Cigar Mile Handicap, Tonalist’s career bankroll soared over the $3.6 million mark. Bred in Kentucky but raised at the Woodslane Farm in The Plains by Rene & Lauren Woolcott, Tonalist was fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, third in the Grade I Whitney and second in both the Grade 2 Suburban  and Metropolitan Handicaps.

Ivy Mills was recognized as Leading Virginia-Bred Over Fences. Bred by the Lazy Lane Farms, the 6 year old daughter of Broken Vow won a maiden special weight at Foxfield in September and the Springdale Stakes at Camden in November. In 2015, she did not see the racetrack until September but made up for lost time by starting five times before year’s end.

Peggy Augustus of Keswick Farms was named Leading Breeder, and her efforts with Stellar Wind have been well documented. Stellar Wind is the last offspring of the last mare bred by Keswick Stables, the end of a family story that began when the Augustus family purchased Old Keswick Farm in 1952.

Finally, Jimmy Day, who trains in Berryville, Virginia  was recognized as Leading Virginia Based Trainer. A winner of four Grade I steeplechase stakes in his career, Day had 111 starts in 2015, collected a dozen wins, 16 runner-up finishes and 19 thirds, good for purse earnings of $448,496.

“Team Naylor” Takes Both Gold Cup Featured Races Saturday

The Virginia Gold Cup staged one of the richest days of racing ever on the National Steeplechase Association’s spring schedule, and leading owner Irv Naylor took away much of the glory on Saturday as well as a healthy chunk  of the purse money.

First, Team Naylor struck in the $75,000 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) with Charminster, who ran one of the best races of his career and tallied by 3 3/4 lengths.

Then came the $100,000 Virginia Gold Cup, which shares the distinction with this year’s Maryland Hunt Cup of being the richest timber race ever run. Naylor won that one, too, with Ebanour (shown here), and for good measure added a third-place finish by pacesetter Personal Brew, who held on well for third.


Both winners were trained by Cyril Murphy at Naylor’s Butler, Md., farm, while Billy Meister trains Personal Brew.

Naylor, who established a record for owner earnings last year, said he and wife Diane did not arrive at Great Meadow Race Course expecting to win. “I never plan to win a race,” he said. “But when we analyzed this race (the 91st annual Virginia Gold Cup), we didn’t think anyone could beat us. And the analysis was right.”

Indeed, Ebanour has been on a roll. He closed ground to win the New Jersey Hunt Cup last October, and the Irish-bred nine-year-old gelding kicked off the current season with a victory in the My Lady’s Manor, which has become a predictable indicator of form in Virginia on the first Saturday in May.

Murphy said the ground conditions–soft as a result of approximately 4 1/2 inches of rain in the prior week–also suited Ebanour, who had won on heavy ground in one of his early races. “If he didn’t handle the ground today, he never would,” the trainer said.

Indeed, Ebanour handled the going just fine under regular jockey Gus Dahl, who now is three-for-three aboard him. Personal Brew went right to the lead under Willie McCarthy and opened a gaping early lead that contracted to about seven lengths through three of the Gold Cup’s four miles.

Heading into the final turn, Dahl made his move in company with Two’s Company, winner of the Middleburg Hunt Cup on April 23 for owner Bruton Street-US. Ebanour assumed the lead going into the last fence and readily turned back a strong challenge by Two’s Company and jockey Sean McDermott.

Ebanour reached the finish line 6 1/4 lengths clear of Two’s Company. Personal Brew finished 2 1/2 lengths behind Two’s Company. Straight to It finished fourth, and 2015 winner Grinding Speed finished sixth.

Sent to the starter at 5.40-1, Ebanour paid $12.80 to win after running the Gold Cup’s four miles in 9:16.40.

Charminster has been competing at the sport’s top level and was Grade 1-placed last summer in Saratoga Race Course’s New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap. He also was fourth in the Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) at Belmont Park and sixth in the Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., where Naylor took first and third money with eventual champion Dawalan and subsequent graded stakes winner Rawnaq.

The 10-year-old Irish-bred found the right conditions and the right field to break through for a Grade 2 win in the Semmes, which honors the memory of a prominent member of Virginia’s steeplechase and fox-hunting community who died in early 2015.

“We came down to Virginia hoping he would run well,” Murphy said. “He deserved to win. He’s been knocking at the door.”

Under Jack Doyle, Charminster was on or near the lead for much of the Semmes’ 2 1/8 miles and repelled a late challenge by Edith Dixon’s Schoodic to notch his first win in almost a year. Sue Sensor’s Top Striker ran a strong race to finish third, another 3 3/4 lengths back.

Sent off at 5.50-1, Charminster ran the Semmes distance in 4:39.40.

In the afternoon’s other stakes race, McCarthy rode Lake Lonely Racing’s Rum Tum Tugger to win the $50,000 Secretariat Stakes on the flat. Silver Lime finished second, and Mutasaawy was third. Rum Tum Tugger, a seven-year-old Afleet Alex gelding trained by Jonathan Sheppard, ran the Secretariat’s 1 1/2 miles in 3:56.20.

In the day’s other feature race, Bill Pape’s Powerofone turned on the power and won the $25,000 Block House optional allowance hurdle by 34 lengths under Gerard Galligan. Arrakis finished second, and Share Out was third. Trained by Jonathan Sheppard, Powerofone ran the Block House’s 2 3/8 miles in 4:32.40 on firm turf at Tryon, N.C.

Ross Geraghty had two wins on the afternoon to pad his lead in the jockey standings over Doyle.