Monthly Archives: January 2019

Extra Cash For Point To Points; New VEA Program Will Bolster Steeplechase Circuit

The following piece appeared on and was written by Besty Burke Parker.

Virginia’s thoroughbred industry is embracing the 2019 reopening of Colonial Downs.

Now the steeplechase community has an exciting development to fuel their sport.

On Monday, the Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) unveiled plans to reward point-to-point and steeplechase owners and trainers with cash payments, a plan aimed at increasing participation, officials say.

According to the system, every time a Virginia-owned or -trained horse makes a start in a point-to-point race the owner will receive a $200 “starter reward.”

The bonus is designed to encourage steeplechase participation at all levels, from the limited “owner-rider” divisions to the open hurdle and timber divisions.

The account will be funded by off-track wagering profits from the VEA, a group comprised of Virginia’s standardbred, thoroughbred and steeplechase horsemen.

“VEA recognizes the important role local point-to-points play in preparing horses for the sanctioned meets and for developing young riders,” explained VEA executive director Jeb Hannum.

With up to eight races at each of seven point-to-points, that’s a lot of incentive, say horsemen.

“Wow, that’s great,” said former circuit champion rider, now trainer, Jeff Murphy, when told of the new program. “That may not sound like a lot of money, $200, but it means a lot to working horsemen, and new owners.”

Photo by Tod Marks.

“I have a group of people I want to bring in on a syndicate,” added owner-rider Sam Cockburn. “This gives me something to bring to the table. We’re looking for a horse for them right now.”

“We hope this program entices people to get a (race)horse, or to put a partnership together and have some fun,” said Hannum.
VEA will also give $25,000 to each of Virginia’s seven National Steeplechase Association-sanctioned meets, and donate $10,000 to the Virginia Point-to-Point Foundation. The popular Virginia-bred turf championship series also continues – $2,000 purses in a half-dozen qualifying races, leading up to a $25,000 autumn championship.

Colonial Downs will open a 600unit historic horse racing operation in New Kent County in April. The track, which features the nation’s largest turf course, opens for live racing Aug. 8-Sept. 7, with 15 weekend dates planned. The Virginia Derby, a 1 ¼-mile race on the turf – is scheduled Aug. 31. Jump races could be carded each week, according to steeplechase officials.

Colonial expects to produce more than 800 new jobs, $25 million in state tax revenues, $17 million in local tax revenues and $25 million annually to Virginia’s horse industry.

VEA took over running four OTBs, and handling the purse account that accrues from wager takeout, when Colonial’s former owners stopped live racing after the 2013 season due to contract differences with horsemen. OTB operational control will transition to Colonial later this year, Hannum explained, but VEA will continue to promote programs that help racing and breeding from a percentage payout from HHR revenues.

Kaleen Shah’s Bellafina Back To Brilliant Best In The January 6th Santa Ynez Stakes

Virginia business owner Kaleen Shah’s Bellafina scored a big Grade 2 win January 6th at Santa Anita. Her 2019 travels could now include the May 3rd Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. This piece was written by Kelly Reilley for

Kaleem Shah’s Bellafina is back. Turning the page on her subpar effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), the Simon Callaghan trainee romped in Sunday’s $200,000 Santa Ynez S. (G2) by 8 1/2 lengths. That’s almost as many as the number of points (10) she added to her total toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1).

The real Bellafina was on display here, the budding star who’d crushed last year’s Chandelier (G1), Del Mar Debutante (G1), and Sorrento (G2). Her hat trick of graded wins, by a combined total of 15 lengths, made her the 9-5 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. But we did not see the real Bellafina at Churchill Downs, where she wound up a well-beaten fourth to Jaywalk.


Bellafina captured the Santa Ynez stakes by 8 1/2 lengths on January 6th. Photo courtesy of Benoit Photography.

Bettors kept faith with Bellafina in her Sunday comeback, sending her off as the 2-5 choice in a five-horse field, and she delivered. Although not quick into stride, the strapping daughter of Quality Road soon advanced to track the Bob Baffert-trained Mother Mother. The two raced alongside rounding the far turn, but Bellafina was going much the better, and she kicked clear swinging for home.

With jockey Flavien Prat enjoying an armchair ride, Bellafina widened her advantage down the stretch. She appeared to be no more than coasting as she finished seven furlongs in 1:22.00.

Bellafina sports 22 Oaks points, reflecting her 10-point scores in both the Santa Ynez and Chandelier, plus 2 points from the Breeders’ Cup. She ranks third on the leaderboard to Jaywalk and Restless Rider.

Mother Mother, second in the Del Mar Debutante, was an even more distant runner-up this time. She added 4 points, to the 2 from her Starlet (G1) third, for a total of 6. Tomlin rallied for third here and opened her account with 2 points. Fourth-placer Reflect earned 1 point, and with her previous 4 as the Alcibiades (G1) runner-up, her total stands at 5.

An $800,000 two-year-old purchase at Fasig-Tipton’s Gulfstream Sale, Bellafina has bankrolled $708,000 from her 6-4-1-0 record. The Kentucky Oaks contender is worth a lot more than that now.

$5,000 Awarded To Top ’16 Virginia Yearling Futurity Money Earners

A total of $5,000 in bonus monies were awarded to the top four money earning three year old horses that participated in the 2016 Virginia Yearling Futurity. Determined Vision, who was both the Champion colt and overall Grand Champion that year, earned a $3,000 first place bonus. What the Beep finished second and was awarded $1,000. Virginia Fable and Blushing Justine were third and fourth respectively and each collected awards of $700 and $300.

Determined Vision holds off Available (outside) approaching the wire in the June 23rd White Oak Farm Stakes. Photo by Jim McCue.

Determined Vision, a now 4-year-old Jump Start gelding bred by Althea Richards, captured the White Oak Farm Stakes in 2018 and finished second in the Meadow Stable Stakes. He also scored in a maiden special weight race May 4th at Laurel. The Phil Schoenthal trainee is a full brother to Just Call Kenny, a Grade 3 stakes winner who has bankrolled $483,770. Determined Vision made one start as a 2-year-old and seven this past year. Out of the Green Dancer mare, Green Jeans, he has earned $88,690 thus far. The top bonus earner is owned by D. Hatman Thoroughbreds and Kingdom Bloodstock Inc.

Eagle Point Farm’s What the Beep wins an allowance race over Laurel’s turf June 8, 2018. Photo by Jim McCue.

What the Beep, a Great Nation filly bred and owned by the Eagle Point in Ashland, is out of Toccoa by Purple Comet. The Rob Bailes trainee won back to back starts at Laurel last year — a waiver maiden claimer May 5th and an allowance race on June 8th. What the Beep also finished second to Altamura in the Camptown Stakes August 4th. Overall in ten career starts, she has earned $76,253 and has finished “in the money” in half those efforts. Toccoa was the first horse Karen Godsey won with as a trainer, and she went on to win five times at Colonial Downs in 2001.

Altamura (#6) edges Virginia Fable (#5) in the Tyson Gilpin Stakes. Photo by Jim McCue.

Virginia Fable is a Swagger Jack filly that won her first race July 14th last year in a maiden special weight race at Laurel. The Susan Cooney trainee was bred by Becky Lavin and has six top three finishes from a dozen starts. She was runner-up in the 2018 Tyson Gilpin Stakes and finished third in the Oakley Stakes. Virginia Fable, out of Falsehood by Awesome Again, has bankrolled $71,902. She is co-owned by Andrew Lavin and Becky Lavin.

Blushing Justine was successful in her first career start — a $41,000 maiden claimer at Aqueduct on November 10th, 2017. Photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese.

Blushing Justine was bred by Nellie Mae Cox and Rose Retreat Farm and is currently trained by Carlos Martin. She was victorious in her career bow at Aqueduct in November, 2017. The filly is by Justin Phillip out of Fiona by Cuvee. Blushing Justine has earned $56,393 from twelve starts and is owned by Matthew Kilstein and Nat Krohn.