Monthly Archives: February 2019

‘Light After Dark’ – Battle of Midway Colt Born Sunday In Virginia

The following appeared in The Paulick Report February 25th.

Within 24 hours of the devastating loss of Breeders’ Cup champion Battle of Midway following a morning workout on Saturday, Feb. 23, at Santa Anita, came the delightful news that one of his foals was born at Jim and Katie Fitzgerald’s Chilly Bleak Farm in Marshall, Va.

The 5-year-old Battle of Midway earned more than $1.5 million in his two-part, 16-start career, with an 8-4-2 record. While at stud at WinStar Farm, he covered 61 mares, leaving only five in foal. He returned to racing in the middle of last year, finishing first or second in four of five starts. After winning the Grade 2 San Pasqual on Feb. 2, the son of Smart Strike was possibly headed to the Dubai World Cup, but he suffered a fractured hind pastern during Saturday’s workout and was euthanized.

This chestnut Battle of Midway colt was born less than 24 hours after his sire’s fatal accident. Photo by Katie Fitzgerald.

His Chilly Bleak Farm offspring was one of five expected foals and the third to be born from Battle of Midway’s brief career at stud. The Virginia-bred colt, out of the bay mare Delicate Affair by Langfuhr, emerged at 2:55 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24. “She was due a week ago,” Katie Fitzgerald, a veterinarian, said on Saturday afternoon. “I think it’ll be tonight. We had one at 4 a.m., so it’s in the air.”

The chestnut colt with a white blaze was up within 20 minutes. “He was looking for milk, “ Fitzgerald said. “But it was very bittersweet, after the tragic death of Battle of Midway yesterday. As they say, there’s always light after darkness.”

Jim Fitzgerald, an Irish-born bloodstock agent and commercial breeder, said: “He’s a big, strong handsome colt with a lot of quality.”

The Fitzgeralds keep nine or 10 broodmares and pinhook an average of about eight to 10 yearlings each year. “It’s mostly our own stock with one or two partners on certain horses,” Jim Fitzgerald said, adding that at this time they are “probably going to sell the colt as a yearling.”

The newborn colt’s 2-year-old half-brother by Pioneerof the Nile was co-bred by the Fitzgeralds and Manganaro Bloodstock. He was purchased by Centennial Farm at Keeneland September 2018 for $425,000. Now named Centurion, he’s in pre-training with Paula Parsons in Middleburg, Va.

Meadow Event Park To Host Secretariat Birthday Celebration On March 30th

The Meadow Event Park, historic birthplace of the 1973 Triple Crown champion in Caroline County, will present the annual Secretariat Birthday Celebration on Saturday, March 30 with an array of festivities that will include a 50th birthday tribute to stablemate Riva Ridge. The 1972 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner was known as the “horse that saved Meadow Farm.”

Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of The Meadow’s Penny Chenery, will be the celebrity host for the event, which will also feature acclaimed sports journalist Steve Haskin, and Steve Jordan, an assistant to trainer Lucien Laurin.

Miniature horse Mia has become a companion to Groundshaker at The Meadow. Courtesy of The Paulick Report.

“The Secretariat Birthday Celebration was always a Virginia homecoming for my mother, and she would have been glad that this year’s renewal is celebrating both of the Meadow’s favorite four-legged sons — Secretariat and Riva Ridge,” Ms. Tweedy said. “Mom called Riva her ‘Golden Boy’ because he saved the farm and paved the way for Secretariat’s Triple Crown. We are delighted to celebrate his 50th birthday and his racing career here at The Meadow, where he was raised and first trained.”

Groundshaker, the last horse bred and raced by Penny Chenery, will be special guest at the upcoming celebration.

With two general admission ticket options, the party starts with “Family Fun” time from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with lots of “horsey” activities for kids. Highlights will include; visits with Groundshaker, the resident Secretariat great-great granddaughter, and her buddy, Mia the miniature horse; celebrity autograph sessions; and narrated tram tours around the historic barns. Guests will also be able to see a display of original training saddles worn by Secretariat and Riva, make birthday cards for the two honorees, watch videos of Secretariat and Riva Ridge’s races, see the Meadow Champion Galleries, Triple Crown Room and Chenery Collection of memorabilia, and of course enjoy birthday cake. The price for the half-day program is $15 per adult and $10 per child.

Secretariat is shown winning the 1973 Belmont Stakes. Photo courtesy of AP.

The full-day ticket option includes the “Family Fun” time, as well as a special program and cocktail reception from 3:00 – 7:00 pm. The story of Riva Ridge will shine in the long-overdue spotlight as Ms. Tweedy and special guests share their personal memories of the almost forgotten champion. The premiere of the new short film by John Tweedy, son of Ms. Chenery, will round out Riva Ridge’s 50th birthday tribute. The celebration will culminate with Steve Haskin’s commentary on the Florida Derby and analysis of the Kentucky Derby hopefuls. Guests can enjoy a cocktail buffet with signature drinks named for Secretariat and Riva Ridge, as well as a silent auction of exclusive Meadow Stable memorabilia. The price of $50 per adult covers the full-day Secretariat Birthday Celebration and Riva Ridge tribute from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information on the birthday program and all ticket options, see

The Secretariat Birthday Celebration is a major program of the Secretariat Birthplace Tours in collaboration with Secretariat’s birthplace at The Meadow Event Park is listed on the state and national historic registers and offers year-round narrated tours by reservation. See for more information.

Off To The Races Radio Show Makes Its 2019 Debut Saturday February 16

Off to the Races on The Racing Biz Radio Network will make its 2019 debut on Saturday, February 16 at 10:00 a.m..

Saturday’s show will feature a bumper crop of great guests. Those include Maryland Jockey Club president Sal Sinatra and John Marshall, general manager of the new Colonial Downs. Also on the docket are program regulars Derby Bill Watson and Nick Hahn to handicap the day’s biggest races.

The program airs every Saturday at 10:00 a.m. for one hour over terrestrial radio on the ESPN Richmond family of stations, including 950 AM and the FM stations 99.5 and 102.7. It also is available everywhere via livestreaming and will be archived on The Racing Biz website.

The show is scheduled to run in this time spot for the next five months before shifting to a different time during August.

Listen every Saturday at  The direct link is available at

Colonial Downs, VA HBPA Pledge TAA Contributions

The following appeared in Thoroughbred Daily News February 13th.

Colonial Downs and the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association have each pledged $15 per starter at the 2019 Colonial Downs meet to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. Colonial Downs will hold 15 live days of racing with opening day Aug. 8 and closing day Sept. 7.

“Colonial Downs Group is delighted to add life to Thoroughbred aftercare. The horse allows us to practice our labor of love and reminds us Virginians that ‘Racing is for Lovers,’” said John Marshall, senior vice president and general manager of Colonial Downs.
Frank Petramalo, executive director of the Virginia HBPA, added, “We at the Virginia HBPA know the importance of Thoroughbred aftercare and the role that TAA plays in our industry. We are proud to support our horses through the work of the TAA and its accredited aftercare organizations.”

Colonial Downs will begin its 15-day season August 8th, and the Virginia Derby is August 31st.

Colonial Downs has also put the self-service AmTote Charity Terminal 2.0 to use, which offers horseplayers the opportunity to make donations to the TAA from winning tickets.

“The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance is grateful for Colonial Downs and the Virginia HBPA for supporting our equine athletes,” TAA president Mike Meuser said. “These funds will help the TAA support our 70 accredited organizations that retrain, rehome, and retire thousands of Thoroughbreds.”

Simulcast Wagering & Historical Racing Approved For New Kent & Vinton Sites At Feb. 14 VRC Meeting

Approvals for simulcast wagering and historical horse racing at future Rosie’s Gaming Emporium sites at Colonial Downs in New Kent and in Vinton were approved this morning by the Virginia Racing Commission (VRC) at its monthly meeting in downtown Richmond.

Aaron Gomes, COO of the Colonial Downs Gaming Group, gave an update on recent activities. This past Monday, they broke ground on their fourth Rosie’s location in Hampton, in the Power Plant complex next to the Bass Pro Shops. That site is expected to open in September once the Rosie’s locations in New Kent, Vinton and Richmond open. Colonial has received unanimous City Council approvals in all four jurisdictions to this point. They have invested $100 million so far in these projects. As of now, Colonial Downs has 50 employees but come the next VRC meeting in April, Gomes said there will be 350 employees on board. A job fair is being held at the New Kent track today and again on March 14th. That Rosie’s Gaming Center will have a ribbon cutting on April 18th and a Grand Opening celebration on Friday May 3rd — Kentucky Oaks Day. The Vinton location will open April 30th with 150 HHR terminals — 16 in a high limit area, 50 in a smoking area and the rest in non-smoking. A large bar will be located in the middle of the Vinton facility.

Two Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums are expected to open in April — at the New Kent track and in Vinton.

The current Off Track Betting Centers operated by the Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) will transfer over to the Colonial Downs Group and will be rebranded as VA-Horseplay centers. They will continue to operate in their current format, offering live simulcast wagering seven days and evenings a week. Only the Rosie’s Gaming locations will offer historical horse racing. The four current Virginia Bets OTBs — Breakers Sports Grill, Ponies & Pints, The Windmill OTB Sports Grill and Buckets Bar & Grill — combined to handle over $32 million in 2018.

Colonial Downs General Manager John Marshall said the barn area and track (for training) will open on July 25th. The 15-day race meet will begin August 8th and run through September 7th, and the Virginia Derby will be held August 31st. Reconstruction of the dirt track will begin in April and he said, “Horsemen will be pleased when exercise riders and their horses set foot on the track that first day of training. They will be happy with the surface itself and the cushion underneath.”

Colonial GM John Marshall said a 2019 stakes schedule will be released in early March.

Marshall said a stakes schedule will be released in March, and the condition book will feature a complement of both turf and dirt races at varied distances. “There is a strong desire to dominate with turf,” he said, “And hypothetically, we’d look for a 80/20 ratio. Ultimately though, we believe the horsemen will tell us which races are going to go and which ones aren’t.”

Colonial Downs has been with working closely with the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) to work on the stakes race lineup, the purse structure and condition book. “It’s easier to figure out a purse schedule for the 2019 meet since OTB and Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) revenues have been accumulating in the purse account for several years now ,” said VEA Executive Director Jeb Hannum. “Moving forward, purses will be dictated by how well the historical racing machines perform.”

Colonial Downs Holds Ceremonial Ground Breaking Event At New Rosie’s Gaming Center In Hampton

Congratulations to the Colonial Downs team, who had a ceremonial ground breaking at their newest Rosie’s Gaming Emporium site in Hampton Monday morning (February 11th).

The 40,000 square foot facility is in the Power Plant complex, directly across I-64 from the former Colonial Downs OTB. 700 historical horse racing machines along with an OTB area will be featured in the section of buildings where the former Nascar Sports Grill was located. Projected opening is this September.

The Rosie’s site in Hampton will be in the section of the Power Plant complex that housed the former Nascar Sports Grill.

Approximately 200 employees will be hired to staff the Rosie’s site at an average salary of $40,000 plus benefits. The project is estimated to generate approximately $10 million in taxes annually, and $2 million will go to the City of Hampton.

The inside of the soon to be Rosie’s has already been gutted, and is expected to open in September.

“Rosies’s should attract one million visitors annually to the Hampton site and a lot of those will come from outside the city,” said Aaron Gomes, COO of the Colonial Downs Group. That comment drew applause from city leaders, local politicians and invited guests. “That should be music to the City Council’s ears,” added Gomes. “Rosie’s will provide a safe, exciting and fun way to spend an evening.”

Rosie’s is located off I-64 at Exit 263, and is adjacent to Bass Pro Shops.

Linda Curtis, a Hampton Councilwoman, echoed those comments. “This project will generate tax revenue, create jobs and provide entertainment for visitors.”

Jeb Hannum, Executive Director of the Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA), said the VEA has worked with the Colonial Downs group for a year and said they are smart, civic minded and have been a pleasure to deal with.

Virginia Equine Executive Director Jeb Hannum spoke at the ground breaking and noted the Colonial Downs Group is very civic minded.

John Marshall, Colonial Downs GM, said he has received calls from prominent industry leaders from around the country and they are all rooting for Colonial’s success. He said it is one of the biggest movements in racing. “It’s an honor and a pleasure to be a steward for horse racing in Virginia,” said Marshall. “Get ready for the biggest Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Virginia Derby parties in Hampton Roads next year!”

Colonial Downs GM John Marshall said the entire racing industry is rooting for Colonial Downs’ success

Three other Rosie’s facilities are already in the construction process. The New Kent and Vinton sites are expected to open in late April while the Richmond site will open in June. Live thoroughbred racing will return to the New Kent track August 8th and continue thru September 7th. The Virginia Derby is slated for Saturday August 31st.

Six Virginia-Breds Are Among 17 Mid-Atlantic Triple Crown Nominees

The following appeared in The Racing Biz February 7th. 

Seventeen horses bred in the mid-Atlantic region are among the 362 horses that have been nominated to the Triple Crown series. Early nomination cost the connections $600 per horse, while the next round, which closes April 1, will cost them $6,000.

The 362 runners nominated is two more than were nominated early in 2018. The series includes the Kentucky Derby on May 4, the Preakness Stakes May 18, and the Belmont Stakes June 8.

The roster of Midlantic-breds includes six from Maryland, six from Virginia, four from Pennsylvania, and one West Virginia-bred. Three of those horses are stakes winners, while two others are stakes-placed.

The top runners:

Knicks Go: The Paynter colt was bred in Maryland by Angie Moore and is trained by Ben Colebrook for KRA Stud Farm. He has two wins and over $672,000 in earnings from six career starts. His best efforts include a win in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity and a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He’ll make his season bow Saturday in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, in which he is the 5-2 morning line favorite.

Our Braintrust: Another Maryland-bred, this son of Freud began his career in the barn of Laurel-based trainer Cal Lynch, for whom he won the Tremont Stakes at Belmont Park in June and ran second in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity and Jerome Stakes. Sold privately, he is now owned by Gary Barber and trained by Mark Casse. In his first start for his new connections, last Saturday, he was a narrowly-beaten third in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes. Bred by Barak Farm, he has two wins and $196,640 in earnings from five starts.

Alwaysmining: Yet a third Maryland-bred, this Stay Thirsty gelding finished his 2018 season with three consecutive victories, taking an allowance race at Laurel Park and then a pair of stakes, the Maryland Juvenile Futurity and Heft Stakes. He was bred by Avia Pitts and is trained by Kelly Rubley for Runnymede Racing LLC, which purchased him privately after his maiden score at Laurel. In all, he has four wins and $191,192 in earnings from nine career races.

Boldor is a TDN “Rising Star” based off hkis tight win in a maiden special weight race October 25th at Keeneland. Photo by Coady Photography.

Boldor: This Virginia-bred Munnings colt brought $700,000 from owners Ed and Susie Orr at the OBS two-year-old sale last April, and while he has a ways to go to validate that price, his career is off to a promising start. Never out of the money in three starts, he just missed last out, finishing third, beaten just a half-length, in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Trained by Steve Asmussen, he was bred by Carlos S. E. Moore and Gillian Gordon-Moore and has earned over $60,000 in those three races.

Jump for Alex: A Pennsylvania-bred Jump Start colt, Jump for Alex will make his next start Saturday in the seven-furlong Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct, in which he is 8-1 on the morning line. A homebred for the Estate of Edward H. Stone, Jump for Alex is trained at Parx Racing by Guadalupe Preciado. He owns two wins from six career starts and is stakes-placed, having run second in December in the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes at Parx behind the graded winner Call Paul. Jump for Alex has over $117,000 in career earnings.

Other nominees include Maryland-breds My Legacy, Shazier, and Trifor Gold; Pennsylvania-breds Machine Learning, Puttheglassdown, and Tizprocess; and West Virginia-bred Final Say.

Additional Virginia-bred nominees:

*Chess Chief (Morgan’s Ford Farm); Trainer – Dallas Stewart; $3,060 in earnings from three starts. Best was a 4th at Churchill September 30th in a MSW

*Forloveofcountry (Lazy Lane Farm); Trainer – James DiVito; $88,545 in earnings from 6 career starts. Wins include a MSW July 28 at Del Mar and an AOC November 24 at Churchill Downs

*Passion Play (Mr. & Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin III); Trainer – Dallas Stewart; $31,520 in earnings from pair of seconds and a third in three career starts. Took 2nd in a MSW January 25th at Oaklawn and another November 17th at Churchill.

*Soldado (Jim Fitzgerald & Katie Fitzgerald); Trainer – Todd Pletcher. $25,800 in earnings from one career start – a MSW win February 2nd at Gulfstream

*Speed App (Morgan’s Ford Farm); Trainer – D. Wayne Lukas. $14,327 from six career starts. Best effort was the most recent — a third in MSW at Oaklawn February 1st.