Monthly Archives: June 2017

Champs Return, But Fail To Defend Virginia-Bred Stakes Titles

The following appeared in The Racing Biz, by Nick Hahn

Whether run at Colonial Downs or Laurel, repeat Virginia-bred stakes winners are common, which is why year after year, past stakes winners come back to compete.

Not so today, however.

On Saturday afternoon as part of Laurel Park’s “Class on the Grass,” defending stakes winners found it difficult to find their way back to the winner’s circle.

Opening the Virginia-bred portion of stakes races at Laurel was the most popular horse, wagering-wise, on the card. Rose Brier went off as an overwhelming 3-10 favorite in the one-mile Edward P. Evans Stakes for Virginia-bred or -sired horses.

The eight-year-old appeared to be the only dry horse in the Laurel paddock prior to the $75,000 Edward P. Evans Stakes for older males.

Special Envoy was quite the opposite. On the way to the paddock, trainer Arnaud Delacour splashed his pupil with a cool-down prior to entering Laurel’s paddock, which can get warm under the dome. After the post parade and a lap around the track with Daniel Centeno aboard, Special Envoy appeared to have run herself dry in the moderate Maryland breezes.

Special Envoy (outside) battles with Rose Brier (inside) in the $75,000 Edward Evans Stakes. photo by Jim McCue.

After surrendering no more than a length to Rose Brier on the lead, jockey Daniel Centeno and Special Envoy moved ahead inside the sixteenth and stymied any lengthy bob of Rose Brier. The victory was special to the connections of Special Envoy, who had finished second to Rose Brier the last two time they went head-to-head.

“Very rewarding, she tries hard. She dug in when the time counted,” said owner Diana Firestone after the race. “Very rewarding, especially in the heat.”

Those connections had another opportunity to play spoiler in the 5th race, the second running of the $75,000 Nellie Mae Cox Stakes, for Virginia-bred or -sired fillies and mares, also at a mile. Their interest, Armoire, was looking to spoil Queen Caroline’s return to the Cox castle, the latter having won the same stake at Pimlico last year.

Queen Caroline won the Nellie Mae Cox Stales for the second straight year at Laurel June 24th. Photo by Jim McCue.

Queen Caroline took three stakes in 2016 as part of a four-race winning streak, but a late season foray into Grade 1 company didn’t go so well, and QueenM Caroline entered this race on a three-race losing streak. This edition of the Nellie Mae Cox may turn out to be a nice confidence-builder for Queen Caroline, who may make future graded ventures.

On the track, Queen Caroline broke from eight-hole and went straight to the lead. She took advantage of easy fractions — 25.16 for the quarter and 49.75 for the half-mile — and was never really threatened winning by a length-plus. She would be the only Virginia-bred to defend her stakes trophy on the day.

“We’re looking to move up into graded stakes company,” said owner Amy Moore about the feat of the first thoroughbred she’s ever owned. “We tried that a few times and got close. We’re not scared, so were going to keep trying. One day we’ll get there. We hope that gets her confidence and that’ll come on and do well in her next outing.”

In the $75,000 White Oak Farm stakes, Two Notch Road’s effort to repeat was defeated by one time or another: either Father Time, or, more specifically, Tiz Our Time in the 5 1/2 furlong test. Despite being cross entered in the $75,000 Tyson Gilpin for fillies and mares later in the card, trainer Pete Twisdale and owner Sam English decided to face the males with Tiz Our Time, a five-year-old Tiz Wonderful mare.

Tiz Our Time won the second annual White Oak Farm Stakes June 24th at Laurel. photo courtesy of Jim McCue.

Jockey Jevian Toledo broke well aboard Tiz Our Time, generated a length lead after running the first quarter in a modest 22.98 seconds, and won by four lengths.

English owns a small farm in Dinwiddie County, VA, outside Petersburg, with a smaller foaling operation in neighboring Goochland County.

“We’ve been working for years, little guy trying to do it,” said English. “So we did it today. We’re running in the next (with Awake the Day, who finished sixth) and hope to do it again.”

Rapid Rhythm rolled off a win in the $75,000 Oakley Stakes win for Virginia-breds at Laurel last fall into two stakes wins at The Fairgrounds over the winter. Prior to today’ inaugural running of the M. Tyson Gilpin, Rapid Rhythm was sent back to the paddock to repair her bridle. Maybe it was an omen; she never really got started.

Trainer Michael Trombetta winced when he saw Do What I Say in a familiar spot at the start of the race: in trouble. However, when jockey Alex Cintron found some racing room, Do What I Say finally did what her owner, R. Larry Johnson, thought she could do. Finding space on the outside, she found another gear and won by a length, rewarding backers at 12-1.

“The race at Pimlico last year, she came out with cuts all over and chipped a sesamoid,” explained Johnson. “It was serious injuries and we gave her a year. Brought her back at Pimlico and she had another bad trip. Then today she gets checked and I’m thinking there’s a black cloud following this horse. But she can run. When she doesn’t have to contend with issues she can run.”

Another longshot won in the finale, for Virginia-bred maidens on the turf going five and a half furlongs, Trustifarian, with Steve Hamilton, won by 1 1/4 lengths for owner Run Aweigh Stables and trainer Patrick Neusch.

Tiz Our Time Earns Biggest Win Of Her Career Saturday In White Oak Farm Stakes

Tiz Our Time won the biggest race of her career Saturday by capturing the $75,000 White Oak Farm Stakes, part of the Maryland-Virginia Breeders’ Day festivities at Laurel Park.

Tiz Our Time won the second annual White Oak Farm Stakes June 24th at Laurel. photo courtesy of Jim McCue.

The 5 year old daughter of Tiz Wonderful broke her maiden February 1st at Charles Town courtesy of a disqualification that saw her get bumped up from second to first. The Sam English bred mare did not need any assistance Saturday as jockey Jevian Toledo guided her to a gate to wire triumph. She covered the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.09 and paid $23.80 to her backers for a $2 bet.

Jockey Jevian Toldeo and connections of Tiz Our Time celebrate her victory in the White Oak Farm Stakes. Photo courtesy of Jim McCue.

Lawyer Dave was second and Lime House Louie was third. The resulting 6-3-5-2 superfecta paid $25,384 for a $1 combination. Betting favorite Two Notch Road finished fifth.

Special Envoy, Queen Caroline Score In First Virginia-Bred Stakes Saturday At Laurel’s Breeders’ Day

Special Envoy (#4 outside) edged Rose Brier (#3 inside) in a thriller Saturday in the $75,000 Edward Evans Stakes at Laurel Park. This was the first of four turf stakes on the program for Virginia-bred or sired horses.

Special Envoy (outside) battles with Rose Brier (inside) in the $75,000 Edward Evans Stakes. photo by Jim McCue.

A year ago in the same event, Rose Brier got the best of Special Envoy by a length but the tables turned this afternoon. Jockey Daniel Centeno led the charge for trainer Arnaud Delacour. The 6 year old Stroll gelding was bred by Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone. Special Envoy won for the first time since March, 2016. Rose Brier had been undefeated in his last four Virginia-bred stakes. Photo by Jim McCue.

Special Envoy turned the tables on Rose Brier as the two battle to the wire in the Edward Evans Stakes. photo by Jim McCue.

Queen Caroline successfully defended her title Saturday in the $75,000 Nellie Mae Cox Stakes, the second Virginia-bred event on the annual Maryland-Virginia Breeders’ Day card at Laurel.

Queen Caroline won the Nellie Mae Cox Stales for the second straight year at Laurel June 24th. Photo by Jim McCue.

The 4 year old Blame filly, bred by the Morgan’s Ford Farm, went gate to wire and held off Armoire to capture her first win in three starts this year. She most recently finished third in the Grade 3 Gallorette Stakes on Preakness Day at Pimlico. Queen Caroline completed the one mile turf event in 1:36.24. The winner is out of the Forestry mare, Queens Plaza, and is owned by Amy Moore.

Virginia-Breds Long On Value, Talk Less To Compete In Key Graded Stakes June 24th

Most of the Virginia-bred focus Saturday will be at Laurel Park, where a four pack of $75,000 stakes will be contested, but two Virginia-bred horses are competing in a pair of elite races elsewhere on Saturday.

Long On Value won the Jamestown Stakes at Colonial Downs in 2013. Courtesy of Coady Photography.

Long On Value, a 6 year old Value Plus horse, is one of 19 entered in the  $738,000 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Class I) at Royal Ascot. The Bill Mott trainee was bred by the Snow Lantern Thoroughbreds and will go to post in the 4th race sprint at 11:20 AM. Long On Value has bankrolled $891,093 from 27 starts including a victory in last July’s Lucky Coin Stakes at Saratoga. Most recently, he earned a runner-up finish in the Grade I Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai March 5th.

Long On Value was a close second in the $1 Million Al Quoz Sprint March 25th in Dubai. Photo by Andrew Watkins.

Out of the Orientate mare, Long Message, Long On Value won the Jamestown Stakes at Colonial Downs in 2013. The Diamond Jubilee is a featured event of closing day at Royal Ascot and was first run in 1868, though by a different name back then.

4/1/2017 – GIRVIN with jockey Brian Hernandiez Jr aboard wins the 104th running of the Grade II Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography/Amanda Hodges Weir

Talk Less is a 3 year old Blame colt who was bred by Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin. He will face his biggest career test Saturday when he competes in the $500,000 Ohio Derby (Gr. 3) at Thistledown. The race has been carded as the eighth and will go to post at 5:30 PM. Talk Less is 2-for-6, but he has won two straight including a recent allowance triumph at Thistledown May 13th. Previously, he scored in a maiden special weight race at Mahoning Valley April 18th. He will face a pair of Kentucky Derby entrants Saturday. Girvin, 2-1 early, won the Louisiana Derby and finished 13th in the Derby, while Irap won the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, and finished 18th in the Derby. Out of the Afleet Alex mare, Aristra, Talk Less is part of a three horse entry and is 12-1 early.

Fields Are Set For Saturday’s (June 24) Maryland-Virginia Breeders’ Day Card

This piece appeared on The Racing Biz website and was written by Frank Vespe. Listen to The Racing Biz radio Saturday mornings on Richmond’s ESPN 950-AM from 10-11 AM..

A pair of graded stakes winners, multi-millionaire Ben’s Cat and hard-hitting middle-distance star Rose Brier, headline Saturday’s day of six restricted stakes at Laurel Park.

Four of the six — the Edward P. Evans (race 3), Nellie Mae Cox (race 5), White Oak Farm (race 8), and M. Tyson Gilpin (race 9) — are restricted to Virginia-bred/Virginia-sired runners. The other two, the Jameela (race 6) and Mister Diz (race 10), are for horses bred or sired in Maryland. All six are scheduled for the turf.

Ben’s Cat is certainly the most accomplished runner in the six-furlong Mister Diz, though his recent form certainly leaves him vulnerable here. The 11-year-old Parker’s Storm Cat gelding, bred, owned, and trained by King Leatherbury, has won 32 times in his remarkable career, amassing over $2.6 million in career earnings. But he enters this event with a seven-race losing streak, the longest of his career, and last out finished eighth, though beaten less than four lengths, in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint over Preakness weekend at Pimlico.

Ben’s Cat has won the Mister Diz six times in his career. Last year, bidding for a seventh straight win in the event, he finished third at 7-10 odds. With regular pilot Trevor McCarthy injured, local stalwart Horacio Karamanos has the mount Saturday.

The Mister Diz is the final stake on the card.

In the day’s first stake, the one-mile Edward P. Evans, graded winner Rose Brier figures to get most of the wagering attention as he seeks to defend his Evans title. Rose Brier, a son of Mizzen Mast trained by Jane Cibelli, has gone undefeated in four Virginia-bred/sired stakes over the last three seasons and has won four of five starts over the Laurel Park lawn. Last out he was third in the Grade 3 Red Bank. Edgar Prado has the mount.

Jockey Alex Citron brings Rose Brier back to the winner’s circle from last year’s Edward Evans Stakes. Photo by Jerry Dzierwinski.

Familiar names are the order of the day in the day’s other events.

In the one-mile Nellie Mae Cox, for fillies and mares, the top pair from last year’s running — Queen Caroline and Secret or not — square off. They’re joined by the improving Armoire and veteran Complete St., who was fifth in this race a year ago but later in the season ran second in both the Brookmeade, also for Virginia-breds, and the Maryland Million Ladies.

Queen Caroline gave new Virginia thoroughbred owner Amy Moore her first stakes win on last year’s Maryland-Virginia Breeders’ Day card. Photo by Jim McCue.

The Jameela, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares, brings back the top pair from last year. Kathy De Masi trainee Everything Lovely was second in this race last year but kicked off this season with a win in the $100,000 The Very One Stakes at Pimlico. She’ll have to contend with last year’s winner, Lovable Lady, who won two other stakes during the year, and Maryland Million Ladies winner Devilish Love.

And in the White Oak Farm Stakes, a 5 1/2 furlong event, 10-year-old Two Notch Road makes his first start since last September for trainer Glenn Thompson. He ran second or third in three other races last year, including the Grade 3 Turf Monster and the Punch Line Stakes. He’ll have to overcome last year’s show horse in this race, Available. A son of Bop trained by Suzanne Dempsey, Available ran third in last year’s White Oak Farm at 50-1 odds and later ran second in the Punch Line. But he owns just two wins from 40 career starts. Another runner of interest in this event is Lime House Louie, who won last year’s Jamestown, for two-year-olds; the Flint Stites trainee will be looking to move forward off an eighth-place finish to open the season against allowance foes.

Post time for the first of the day’s 11 races is 1:10.

Maryland-Virginia Breeders’ Day At Laurel Park Set For Saturday June 24

Virginia Breeders’ Day will feature a four pack of $75,000 Virginia-bred turf stakes — the second editions of the Edward Evans, Nellie Mae Cox and White Oak Farm Stakes, and the inaugural Tyson Gilpin Stakes. A pair of 5 1/2 furlong maiden turf sprints for Virginia-breds will also be carded — one for colts and another for fillies/mares.

Early nominations to all four turf stakes are strong. 28 horses nominated to the Edward Evans Stakes  including ’16 winner Rose Brier. The Nellie Mae Cox Stakes attracted 21 nominations including ’16 winner Queen Caroline while the White Oak Farm Stakes attracted 19 nominations including ’16 victor Two Notch Road. A total of 24 horses nominated to the Tyson Gilpin Stakes (5 1/2 furlongs, 3&up F/M).  

Jockey Alex Cintron was atop Queen Caroline in the June 25th Nellie Mae Cox Stakes. Photo by Jim McCue.

To make dining reservations, call Laurel Park at (301) 725-0770. For those with horses entered, contact Phoebe Hayes at Horsemen’s Relations (301) 674-5609. 

A pair of $75,000 Maryland-bred stakes will complement the card. Both carry purses of $75,000 and will be contested at six furlongs on turf. The Jameela is for 3&up F/M while the Mister Diz is for 3&up. 

Mark your calendars for the next two VTA events. Virginia Day at Laurel follows on August 5th with a four-pack of new offerings — the $75,000 Hansel, William Backer, Meadow Stable and Camptown Stakes. The campaign concludes with Commonwealth Day at Laurel on September 30th with five long running staples — the $60,000 Bert Allen, Brookmeade, Punch Line, Oakley and Jamestown Stakes. A pair of Virginia-bred one mile maiden races will join the August 5th program. Details are at and

Charlottesville’s Nagle Connects In Woodbine Stakes Race With Filly Queen Del Valle

TORONTO, June 11—Queen Del Valle, invading from south of the border, took over from front-running Will She in late stretch and prevailed by a half-length length in Sunday’s $100,000 Alywow Stakes at Woodbine.

The final time for the Alywow, a six-furlong turf race for 3-year-old fillies, was a track-record 1:12.93 on a firm course.

Toronto Ont June 11, 2017 Woodbine Racetrack.Alywow Stakes, Queen Del Valle Jockey Edgar Zayas,owner Big Lick Farm and trainer Reid Nagle.WEG/michael burns photo

Queen Del Valle broke like a bullet from post 3 under regular rider Edgard Zayas but soon conceded the front end to Will She and jockey Jesse Campbell.
   Will She showed the way through a  quarter-mile in :21.51 and a half in :43.46 and was still in front through five furlongs in 1:06.35 before giving way grudgingly in the closing yards. “I heard that the track was a little fast, and speed holds a little bit,” said Zayas. “I tried to stay close to the pace. She’s very game; she’s a very nice filly.”

Queen Del Valle is shown heading to the winners circle with jockey Edgar Zayas. Courtesy of WEG.

India Mantuana, in from Saratoga for Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown, stalked the pace from fourth and fell a neck short of catching Will She for the place. Silent Sonet was another three-quarters of a length back in fourth  after tracking the leaders throughout from fifth place.
   Victory to Victory, who was sent off as the odds-on favorite after earning the Sovereign Award as Canada’s champion 2-year-old filly last year, made up some ground late but was a non-threatening fifth for trainer Mark Casse.
   She was followed to the wire by her stablemate Superduper Sky, R Nana and Just Be Kind in the field of eight.
   Queen Del Valle was the first Woodbine mount for Zayas and the first starter for trainer Reid Nagle
“She knows where the wire is, and Edgard fits her perfectly,” said Nagle.
   Queen Del Valle was claimed for $25,000 from her first lifetime start at Gulfstream Park and has since won nine of 10 starts, all on the turf in Florida.
   The Alywow was the second stakes win and the most important to date for the Kentucky-bred who races for Big Lick Farm.
“She’s done everything right; she’s done everything we’ve asked her to,” said Zayas. “It was a nice step up in class for her, and she handled it pretty nice.”
Queen Del Valle returned $29.40, $10.80 and $8.00. The 3-7 exactor with Will She ($7.80, $6.30), came back a healthy $219.30 and the trifecta 3-7-4 trifecta with India Mantuana ($4.30) returned $763.20.
   Silver Sonet rounded out a 3-7-4-1 superfecta which was worth $1,769.15 for $1.​

Virginia-Breds Win 5 Races Over Belmont Stakes Weekend

A Virginia-owned filly captured a stakes north of the border and five Virginia-breds got to the winners circle on a successful Belmont Stakes weekend for horses/connections with Commonwealth ties. Six different tracks were represented courtesy of those successes.

Queen Del Valle, trained by Reid Nagle and owned by his Big Lick Farm in Charlottesville, was best in the $105,000 Alywow Stakes June 11th at Woodbine. The 3 year old Kentucky-bred filly remained perfect in four starts from her 2017 campaign. She scored in another stakes — the Mrs. Presidentress at Gulfstream February 20th — and in a pair of starter optional claimers at Tampa and Gulfstream.  She is by Baryshnikov out of Ladyecho by Alphabet Soup. Nagle’s charge is 9 of 11 lifetime, and has bankrolled $185,436.

Toronto Ont June 11, 2017 Woodbine Racetrack.Alywow Stakes, Queen Del Valle Jockey Edgar Zayas,owner Big Lick Farm and trainer Reid Nagle.WEG/michael burns photo

All Call, a 6 year old Cowboy Cal gelding, connected at Arlington June 10th in a starter optional claiming race. Bred by the Morgan’s Ford Farm, the victor was third of seven in the field turning for home and crossed a length in front. All Call covered the 1 1/16th miles race in 1:43.69.  He has earned $163,074 from 29 career starts.

Compose is a 6 year old mare who saw her bankroll slide into six digits with a win at Fair Meadows the same day. Bred by Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone, the winner thoroughly dominated the four horse contest, winning gate to wire by 11  1/2 lengths. Compose put a four race winning streak together last summer and fall, and has 11 “in the money” finishes in her last 12 starts. She has now earned $103, 591.

Surfing Up, a 7 year old Up Periscope gelding bred by Warren Owens, earned his first win of the year at Charles Town in convincing style. The winner was fifth at the third marker of his 1 1/18th miles claiming race, angled out at the top of the stretch and stormed home to win by 4 1/2 lengths in 1:56.30. Out of the Maria’s Mon mare, Cloud Surfer, Surfing Up gave owner Natasha Aylor a 25% bonus courtesy of the HBPA/VTA Mid-Atlantic bonus program.

Voices Only was the fourth Virginia-bred to win at Parx on Belmont Day, and the 4 year old filly edged a pair of Jonathan Sheppard trainees in breaking her maiden. Bred by the William Backer Revocable Trust, Voices Only wired the field and crossed a length over Forgiving and two lengths ahead of Patience. The Scott Lake trainee is by Artie Schiller out of Masked Ball by Lear Fan. Owner Richard Malouf collected a 25% bonus on top of the winners share of a $30,000 purse.

Scarlett’s Ransom wired the field in earning her second straight win June 10th at Laurel. photo by Jim McCue.

Scarlett’s Ransom added a fifth Virginia-bred win to the weekend festivities, bagging a 5 1/2 length triumph in a $22,000 claiming race at Laurel. The 3 year old daughter of Denis of Cork wired the field in 1:05.35 and has now won two straight. The filly also prevailed at Laurel in an April 8th claiming event. She is out of the Grand Slam mare, Moosette. Scarlett’s Ransom was bred by Nancy Rizer and Eric Rizer. She is owned by the latter Riser, who gained a 25% Mid Atlantic bonus from the victory.

Racing Commission Approves Series Of Virginia-Bred Stakes & Overnight Races At Laurel, Charles Town

At its Tuesday June 6th meeting, the Virginia Racing Commission approved the HBPA’s request to fund a series of races that will be contested in Maryland and West Virginia this year. Three showcase race days at Laurel will feature a slate of Virginia-bred turf stakes while ten individual restricted races will be contested at either Laurel or Charles Town from July through November.

Rose Brier is shown winning the 2016 Bert Allen Stakes for the third straight year at Laurel. The 8 year old Mizzen Mast gelding also won the ’16 Edward Evans Stakes. Photo by Jim McCue. own winning the Bert Allen Stakes

Virginia Breeders’ Day at Laurel kicks off the schedule on June 24th with second editions of the $75,000 Edward Evans, Nellie Mae Cox and White Oak Farm Stakes, and the inaugural Tyson Gilpin Stakes. Virginia Day at Laurel follows on August 5th with a four-pack of new offerings — the $75,000 Hansel, William Backer, Meadow Stable and Camptown Stakes. The campaign concludes with Commonwealth Day at Laurel on September 30th with five long running staples — the $60,000 Bert Allen, Brookmeade, Punch Line, Oakley and Jamestown Stakes. A pair of Virginia-bred maiden sprints will complement the June 24th card while a pair of one mile maiden races will join the August 5th program. Specific dates and conditions of the ten individual events can be found at and


Rapid Rhythm Slated To Compete In Thursday’s Grade 3 Intercontinental Stakes At Belmont

The following was submitted by Nick Hahn of The Racing Biz.

 Virginia-bred female turf sprinter Rapid Rhythm takes her first try in graded stakes company in Thursday’s $250,000 Intercontinental Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park, part of massive weekend of stakes races.

Bred by Lazy Lane farm in Upperville, VA, the five-year-old mare has won 8 of her 20 lifetime starts largely on the turf.   After winning the $60,000 Oakley Stakes at Laurel Park last September, Rapid Rhythm won two stakes races at the Fairgrounds over the winter.  A poor start in Keeneland’s $100,000 Giant’s Causeway led to a setback in April, though she closed late.

Rapid Rhythm, bred by the Lazy Lane Farms, LLC, won the Oakley Stakes at Laurel last fall, which kicked off her current three race win streak. Photo by Jim McCue.

Rapid Rhythm was 2016 Virginia-Bred Female Champion Turf Sprinter and is by Successful Appeal out of the mare Patriot Miss by Quiet American.  Michael Stidham trains the 2016 Virginia-bred Female Turf Sprinter for owner Robert S. Evans and will saddle for returning jockey James Graham.

The morning line for seven-furlong turf sprint that signed 11 to the starting gate lists Rapid Rhythm as 20-1 in the Intercontinental, one of three stakes races on the Thursday’s card.