Monthly Archives: April 2019

Virginia-Bred Out for a Spin Drives for Kentucky Oaks Glory

Longshot Ashland Stakes (G1) winner blossoms at right time

  • The following appeared in

Out for a Spin was a 52-1 outsider a few weeks ago when she pulled off a monumental upset in Keeneland‘s Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1), but don’t expect that price in the May 3 Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1). The quick daughter of Hard Spun  has come to hand quickly and will be led over to the paddock by Dallas Stewart, a trainer who knows a thing or two about winning the Oaks.

Stewart sent out Lemons Forever for a 47-1 shocker in the 2006 Oaks and has had a great run with Lemons Forever’s offspring, grade 1-winning fillies Unbridled Forever and champion Forever Unbridled.

Out for a Spin captured the April 6th Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. Photo courtesy of Keeneland.

The lanky trainer got his start under the shedrow of Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas and was first nabbed by former Lukas assistant Randy Bradshaw back in 1986. Bradshaw, with partner Sam Samsel, own Out for a Spin under the Commonwealth Stable banner.

“We’ve been together a long time,” Stewart said of Bradshaw. “He picked out (Out for a Spin) and they put her in a 2-year-olds in training sale, and she didn’t work super fast, so they sent her to me. I’m glad they did.”

Out for a Spin, out of the stakes-placed Came Home mare My Mammy, was a $75,000 purchase out of the third session of the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Bred in Virginia by the William Backer Revocable Trust, she was consigned by Smitten Farm through Taylor Made Sales Agency.

With the thought of pinhooking her, she was prepped and run through last year’s Ocala Breeders’ Sales Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training but was an RNA at $50,000.

Out for a Spin (inside) wins the Ashland Stakes. Photo by Kurtis Coady.

“This horse breezed in :10 and three, and everyone is looking for :10 or :10 and one,” Samsel said. “Our philosophy is, if we don’t get the price we feel is good, we’ll keep them and race. We’ve done it … and done it with success. But not like this.

“We don’t spend a lot of money,” Samsel continued. “We’re looking for good pedigrees, and Randy does the conformation. We don’t think you have to spend a half-million or a million dollars to have a stakes horse. I think the most we’ve spent was about $125,000 for a yearling.

“Everyone is looking for great horses and great pedigrees, but these days they come at a premium. However, there are a lot of good horses that get overlooked.”

Out for a Spin returns to the winners circle after the Ashland. Photo by Kurtis Coady.

Out for a Spin is one of those. She made her debut going one turn at Churchill Downs last fall, finishing fifth, but found her stride once she got to Stewart’s base in New Orleans over the winter and got a try at two turns.

She broke her maiden Dec. 29 going 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. After a third-place effort at the same trip Feb. 8, she fired off a 3 3/4-length win in a March 16 optional-claiming allowance race. The huge step up to grade 1 company at Keeneland was a roll of the dice, but a calculated one by Stewart.

“We tried the Ashland knowing it was going to be tough, but there’s a lot of upside if you finish first, second, or third,” Stewart said. “A lot of the 3-year-olds start to blossom this time of year. The ones that are moving up the ladder are developing. You take these kinds of chances with them to see what kind of horse you have if you want to be in the classics.”

This will be Samsel’s first run in the Oaks.

“Needless to say, you learn a lot about the new friends you acquired … but that’s just fine,” Samsel said with a laugh.

Samsel worked for American Express Financial Advisors for more than 30 years and has since founded the consulting firm The Samsel Group. He’s also the recipient of the Freedom Trail Foundation’s Patriot Award for his contributions in preserving American history in his hometown of Boston.

“I had a call the other day from John Hall—he was the yearling manager at Taylor Made. He’s been a lifelong friend,” Samsel said. “He’s so excited for us. He called and wanted to know how the horse was. He said, ‘We are so thrilled for you … but I also have to acknowledge I’m a little jealous.’ I would be, too.

“But I don’t think we’re going off at 52-1 this time,” he said with confidence. “This was not a fluke. The horse has a big heart; she’s a big competitor.”

Sneak Peak At Colonial Downs Rosie’s Gaming Center In New Kent

The first Rosie’s Gaming Emporium, located at Colonial Downs in New Kent, held the first of several preview days on April 18th.

This highly anticipated Rosie’s will open Tuesday April 23rd at 11 AM with a ribbon cutting set for 10:45 AM. The first 500 attendees will receive a commemorative t-shirt and anyone that signs up for a Players Card will get a $10 free play voucher.

The New Kent site features 600 historical horse racing terminals.
The Rosie’s in New Kent features three cocktail lounges.
Both smoking and non-smoking bars are available.
The live simulcast area of Rosie’s is on the third floor paddock side.
A concessions/dining area is on the first floor and among the most popular items are fresh made donuts.
HHR machines will be available to play 7 days/nights a week. The New Kent site will be open until 2 AM Sunday thru Thursday and 4 AM Friday and Saturday nights.

The New Kent venue will feature 600 Historical Horse Racing (HHR)terminals, a live simulcast wagering area, several bars, a fast casual concession and dining area, separate smoking and non-smoking sections, a higher limit HHR area, gift shop and an upbeat environment with plenty of friendly staff to assist everyone.

Colonial Downs, Exacta Systems Sign 10-Year Deal On Historical Horse Racing Machines

The following appeared in The Paulick Report April 18th. Colonial Downs Racetrack in New Kent will open its Rosie’s Gaming Emporium facility on Tuesday April 23rd at 11 AM. It will feature 600 HHR terminals, live simulcast wagering, restaurant and bar. Details are at

Colonial Downs racetrack in New Kent County, Va., is set for the grand opening of its Historic Horse Racing facility on Tuesday, April 23.  The facility will open with 600 Exacta Systems HHR terminals after the Colonial Downs Group entered into a 10-year agreement making Exacta the exclusive Historic Horse Racing systems provider to the racetrack and its affiliated, Rosie’s Gaming branded Off Track Betting locations throughout Virginia.  It is expected that the Colonial Downs group will place just under 3,000 Exacta terminals in Virginia by mid-2020.

“We are very excited to have Exacta Systems as our exclusive HHR system provider in Virginia,” commented Peninsula Pacific Entertainment and Colonial Downs Group Chief Operating Officer Aaron Gomes. “The Exacta product is second-to-none, and their continued record-breaking performance in Kentucky and Wyoming made them the obvious choice to partner with.  Customers in those two states obviously love the wide variety of Exacta HHR games, and we are confident that our customers in Virginia will as well.  We are excited for the public to visit us and play the Exacta games during our grand opening on the 23rd.”

“We are extremely grateful to partner with the Colonial Downs Group and work together in revitalizing the horse racing and breeding industries in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” commented Exacta Systems President Jeremy Stein.  “They have made significant investments throughout Virginia and we are excited to be their long term exclusive partner in that effort.”

For more information about the company and the Exacta historic horse racing system, visit or the Exacta Systems Facebook page.

Scorpiancer Headlines Grade I Gwathmey Handicap Saturday At Middleburg Spring Races

The following was written by Don Clippinger and appeared at The 99th running of the Middleburg Spring Races is Saturday April 20th at Glenwood Park.

Bruton Street-US’s Scorpiancer, 2017’s Eclipse Award champion, will carry the 158-pound highweight in Saturday’s talent-packed edition of the $75,000 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 1), the featured race of the 99th annual Middleburg Spring Races at Glenwood Park.

Also on the program is the $30,000 Middleburg Hunt Cup, which will be headlined by Two’s Company, the 2016 timber champion who also is owned by Bruton Street-US and trained by Jack Fisher. First post time is 1 p.m. for the seven-race program.

Scorpiancer, who will be making his first start in almost two years, will be reunited with regular jockey Sean McDermott for the 2½-mile Temple Gwathmey. McDermott rode the Irish-bred to victories in the 2017 Temple Gwathmey and the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1).

Fisher also will saddle Bruton Street-US’s Moscato, the 2017 novice champion who also missed the 2018 season, and Jaleo, who will be making his first start for the champion trainer. Michael Mitchell rides Moscato, and Willie McCarthy will be aboard Jaleo. Both carry 146 pounds.

Scorpiancer headlines the $75,000 Temple Gwathmey Handicap April 20th at Middleburg’s Glenwood Park. Photo by Tod Marks.

The Fields Stable’s Portrade, a game second behind Scorpiancer in the 2017 Temple Gwathmey, also is coming back after missing last season. Trainer Elizabeth Voss named Jack Doyle to ride the 2016 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) winner, who carries 144 pounds.

Sharing the second highweight at 148 pounds are Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose, winner of the 2017 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1), and Apple Equipment’s Winner Massagot, runaway winner of Montpelier’s Noel Laing Handicap in November.

Keri Brion rides All the Way Jose for Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, and Thomas Garner will be aboard Winner Massagot for trainer Richard Valentine.

Ricky Hendriks, who finished a close second in the trainer standings last year behind Fisher, will saddle Rosbrian Farm’s and Meadow Run Farm’s Clarcam, who most recently was fourth in the Noel Laing. Ross Geraghty will ride.

The Temple Gwathmey’s fourth Grade 1 winner is Mark Buyck Jr.’s Show Court, winner of last summer’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial at Saratoga Race Course. Barry Foley has the mount for trainer Arch Kingsley Jr.

Completing the field are Belisarius, winner of a division of the Far Hills Races’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle for novices in October, and Osmoz, third in the Noel Laing.

Here is the field for the $75,000 Temple Gwathmey Handicap in post-position order. Their handicap weights are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.

Clarcam (Fr). 2019 b. g., Califet (Fr)—Rose Beryl, by Lost World. Owner: Rosbrian Farm and Meadow Run Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Breeder: Jean Michel & Dominique LeBreton. 2018 NSA record: 3-0-0-0, $5,250. Finished distant fourth in 2018 Noel Laing Handicap at Montpelier Hunt Races. Distanced in 2018 Grand National (Gr. 1) for trainer Gordon Elliott. Lost all chance in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) when he stumbled at the third from last fence and his jockey lost an iron. Set pace in Belmont’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) and faded to finish sixth. In final overseas start, won €250,000 Galway Plate Steeplechase by six lengths at 33-to-1 odds. (146)

Winner Massagot (Fr). 2011 ch. g., Muhaymin—Winnor (Fr), by Lesotho. Owner: Apple Equipment. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Breeders: Christian Ballet and Jean Luc Terrieres (Fr). 2018 NSA record: 2-1-1-0, $33,000. Won Montpelier’s 2018 Noel Laing Handicap impressively after second in Far Hills ratings handicap, his U.S. debut. Won lower-level handicap at England’s Fontwell Park before export. (148)

All the Way Jose. 2010 b. g., Senor Swinger—Maternity Leave, by Northern Baby. Owner: Buttonwood Farm. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Breeder: Jonathan Sheppard (Pa.) 2018 record: 6-0-0-1, $ 68,200. 2017 record: 7-2-1-3, $179,300. Finished second in 2018 Noel Laing Handicap at Montpelier Hunt Races. Finished third in 2018 Grand National Gr. 1) for second straight year, after fifth in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and sixth in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) at Saratoga. Began 2018 with fourth in Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2) at Middleburg Spring, then fell in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Won 2017 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). (148)

Moscato (GB). 2011 gr. or ro. g., Hernando (Fr)—Alba Stella, by Nashwan. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Miss K. Rausing (GB). 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: 6-4-2-0, $156,000. Novice champion of 2017 did not start in 2018. Won Belmont Park’s 2017 William Entenmann Novice Stakes and Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes impressively after strong closing second in Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Won Queen’s Cup maiden by 7 1/4 lengths and Iroquois allowance hurdle by 6 1/2 lengths. (146)

Jaleo (Ger). 2012 ch. g., New Approach (Ire)—Jambalaya (Ger), by Samum (Ger). Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Gestut Karlshof (Ger). 2018 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $18,000. Finished fifth in 2018 Grand National (Gr. 1) after setting early pace. Had been racing well in moderate allowance steeplechases in England for up-and-coming trainer Ben Pauling. (146)

Show Court (Ire). 2009 b. g., Vinnie Roe—Sparking Gem, by Revoque. Owner: Mark W. Buyck Jr. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Breeder: Grange Stud (Ire). 2019 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2018 record: 6-2-0-0, $122,000. 2017 NSA record: 5-2-1-0, $112,000. Opened 2019 with disinterested sixth in Carolina Cup Handicap. Won Saratoga’s 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) by a length, then was fourth in New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) and fell in Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Won Steeplechase at Callaway allowance hurdle after fourth in David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Handicap (Gr. 2) at International Gold Cup. Began 2018 season with sixth in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). Won 2017 Carolina Cup by seven lengths. (144)

Belisarius (Ire). 2011 b. g., Montjeu—Lasting Chance, by American Chance. Owner: Gary Barber, Brous Stable, and Wachtel Racing Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Breeders: Lynch Bages Ltd. And Camas Park Stud (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 5-2-1-2, $106,200. Won 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle by 6¼ lengths. Set all the pace and won 2018 Monmouth Park maiden hurdle by two lengths. Never has finished off the board in five jumps starts. (142)

Portrade (Ire). 2009 b. g., Trade Fair (GB)—Portorosa, by Irish River (Fr). Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Breeder: Keene Bloodstock (Ire). 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: 3-0-1-0, $19,000. Coming back after more than 20 months, following fourth in 2017 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Opened 2017 with game second in Middleburg Spring’s Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3), then faded to fourth in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3). Won the 2016 New York Turf Writers (Gr. 1) after setting all the pace, then was third in David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2) at International Gold Cup. (144)

Scorpiancer (Ire). 2009 b. g., Scorpion (Ire)—Janebailey, By Silver Patriarch. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Mary O’Connor (Ire). 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: 2-2-0-0, $150,000. Claimed 2017 Eclipse Award with victories in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) and Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3). Won Belmont Park’s 2016 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Finished good second in Saratoga’s 2016 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), then was third in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Finished second in Middleburg Spring’s 2016 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3), then fourth in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Finished second in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial Ratings Handicap. Won 2015 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. (158)

Osmoz. 2012 dk. b. or br. g., Birdstone—Wichitoz, by Affirmed. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Breeder: Wertheimer et Frere (Ky.) 2018 record: 4-1-0-2, $18,000. 2017 record: 3-1-0-0, $24,400. Finished third in 2018 Noel Laing Handicap at Montpelier Hunt Races. Won 2018 Fair Hill allowance hurdle by 23 lengths and then was third in Far Hills ratings handicap. Finished seventh in 2018 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. Opened 2017 with win in Middleburg Spring ratings handicap, then finished fifth in Iroquois ratings handicap and Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Made two starts on the flat in California for Racing Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, with a fourth as his best showing. (142).

Colonial Downs To Conduct A Controlled Burn Of The Turf Course Tuesday

By NBC12 Newsroom| April 16, 2019 at 2:23 AM EDT – Updated April 16 at 5:23 AM

NEW KENT COUNTY, VA (WWBT) – Don’t worry if you see smoke in the sky along I-64 in New Kent County on Tuesday.

An image from last May’s turf course burn at Colonial Downs.

To prepare for the return of thoroughbred horse racing in Virginia, Colonial Downs will facilitate a controlled burn of its 1 1/8 mile turf track at 4 p.m.

The burn will take the dead cover grass off the turf course, allowing it to grow back more plush and greener, preparing the track for the much-anticipated return of thoroughbred racing on Aug. 8.

John Dale Thomas, VEA Track Superintendent, will oversee the turf course burn once again.

In collaboration with the Virginia Racing Commission and Virginia Equine Alliance, Colonial Downs is set to bring competitive horse racing back to New Kent County and a future network of satellite HHR facilities branded as “Rosie’s”.

Colonial Downs Group is making a $300 million investment in the Commonwealth of Virginia creating 800 new jobs by the end of 2019.

This effort will generate $25 million annually in state tax revenues, $17 million annually in local tax revenues and $25 million annually to Virginia’s horse industry. The project is not receiving any tax credits or government incentives.

Copyright 2019 WWBT. All rights reserved.

Rosie’s Gaming Emporium Set To Open At Colonial Downs Racetrack On April 23rd

It’s finally here — the highly anticipated opening of Rosie’s Gaming Emporium at Colonial Downs Racetrack in New Kent is set for Tuesday April 23rd at 11:00 AM! 

Additional Rosie’s sites will open in May (Vinton), June (Richmond) and September (Hampton).

The new look venue will feature 600 historical horse racing (HHR) terminals along with live simulcast wagering from tracks around the country. Players can pick and choose from any of the Exacta Systems game terminals that look, feel and play just like the games you’d expect.  VIP guests can enjoy the biggest jackpots in a High Limit room. 

Construction work begins at the New Kent track months ago. Customers will be quite surprised at the new look come April 23rd.

Both smoking and non-smoking areas will be available. Exceptional food will be offered in an informal atmosphere and a cocktail bar will offer libations with quick service. 

Rosie’s will be open seven days and nights a week. Operating hours Sunday thru Thursday are from 8 AM-2 AM and Friday and Saturday from 8 AM-4 AM. The track is located halfway between Richmond and Williamsburg on I-64 at Exit 214. 

80% of the races this summer are expected to be held over the Secretariat Turf Course.

Of course, the HHR initiative will help fuel the return of thoroughbred racing this summer and beyond. The five week, fifteen day meet will begin ​August 8th and continue thru September 7th with racing scheduled every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 5 PM. A special Labor Day program will be held on Monday September 2nd at 1 PM. 

T​he Virginia-bred/sired stakes schedule is also set, pending Virginia Racing Commission approval. The first Saturday card on August 10th will feature a four pack of $100,000 stakes — the M. Tyson Gilpin, The Meadow Stable, Nellie Mae Cox and Edward Evans Stakes. Closing day’s card will include five $100,000 stakes — the Punch Line, Camptown, Bert Allen, Brookmeade and Jamestown stakes. More details including a list of conditions is at The open stakes schedule for the season is still being finalized.       

Trio Of Virginia-Certified Horses Capture Wins Over The April 6, 7 Weekend

Three Virginia-Certified horses reached the winners circle this past weekend and one of them — Big Brown Cat — won her second straight race at Aqueduct. 

Big Brown Cat wins her second straight race at Aqueduct April 7th. Photo by Adam Coglianese.

The three-year-old Big Brown filly authored a gate-to-wire effort in a $50,000 claiming race there April 7th. Jockey Ben Hernandez led the New York-bred to a five length triumph in that six furlong dirt race. On February 15th, she wired the field as well in a 5 1/2 furlong maiden claimer and crossed 4 3/4 lengths the best.

Big Brown Cat prevails at Aqueduct in a maiden claiming race February 15th. Photo by Adam Coglianese.

The two-time Empire State winner is owned by C. Robert Valeri, who received a 25% bonus for both victories. Big Brown Cat spent her six month residency at Woodberry Payne’s Ingleside Training Center in Montpelier Station. She is out of the Stormy Atlantic mare, Cat Ferrad.  

The day prior, Virginia-Certified horses Marylander and High Fiber both prevailed at Laurel and Charles Town respectively.

Marylander, a Maryland-bred, won a waiver claiming race April 6th at Laurel. Photo by Jim McCue.

The former, a three-year-old Seville colt, captured a $33,000 waiver claiming race with jockey Forest Boyce in the irons. The Rob Bailes trainee won by 1 3/4 lengths at the seven furlong distance.  He is owned by Karen Benshoff and spent her time in Virginia at Stephanie Nixon’s Horseshoe Hill Farm in Ashland. 

The latter, a three-year-old West Virginia-bred, was best in a 4 1/2 furlong maiden special weight that carried a $23,000 purse. High Fiber prevailed by three lengths in his first lifetime start. He is by Fiber Sonde out of Angle Opportunity by Belong To Me. The victor, owned by Michael Miller, resided at the Whiskey Creek Farm in Berryville before his racing career began. 

A Virginia-Certified horse is a horse registered by The Jockey Club, conceived and foaled outside of Virginia, that maintains residency in Virginia for at least a six (6) month consecutive period prior to December 31st of its two-year-old year. Owners of Virginia-Certified horses are eligible for 25% Owners Bonuses for wins at Mid-Atlantic racetracks (NY, NJ, PA, DE, WV, MD & VA). More details and a list of partner farms and training centers is at

Talk Less Wins Virginia-Bred/Sired Flat Race For Second Time This Spring

The spring Point-to-point season reached its halfway mark this past Saturday (April 6th) when the Ben Venue Farm in Ben Venue, Virginia played host to the Old Dominion Hounds Point-to-Point Races.

Talk Less finished first at both the Old Dominion and Warrenton Hunt Point-to-Points. Photo by Douglas Lees.

Talk Less won the $2,000 Virginia-Bred/Sired Flat for the second time in three weeks on Saturday. The 5 year old Blame gelding, who was bred by Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin III, came into the race with $75,000 in earnings. He also won March 23rd at the Piedmont Fox Hounds Point-to-Point and kicked off the spring season with a third in the Warrenton Hunt Point-to-Point. Talk Less is out of the Afleet Alex mare, Aristra. Rider Eduardo Leiva was up. 

Foxhall Drive was one of rider Bryan Cullinane’s five wins at the Old Dominion Point-to-Point event. Photo by Douglas Lees.

A total of nine races were contested at Ben Venue and rider Bryan Cullinane won five of them. Besides Talk Less, he scored with Apollo Landing in the Maiden Hurdle, Hyperlapse in the Novice Rider Flat, Foxhall Drive in the Open Hurdle, and Macnicholson in the Amateur & Novice Rider Timber in a walkover. 

Ten participating horses, either owned or trained by a Virginian, earned a $200 starter reward courtesy of a new incentive program funded by the Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA). Through the first four weekends of the spring season, $17,800 in rewards have been paid out from competitions at Warrenton, Orange County, Piedmont and the Old Dominion Point-to-Points. 

Southern Sail is one of ten horses to earn a starter reward at the Ben Venue Farm April 6th.

 “The Point to Points are an important first step for many horses as well as giving young riders an opportunity before going to the sanctioned meets,” said VEA Executive Director Jeb Hannum. “We hope the Reward Program will encourage new owners and broader participation this year.”

Action for the fifth weekend shifts to the Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg this Sunday, April 14th. The first of two exhibition races begins at 12 Noon followed by a combination of seven flat, hurdle and timber events starting at 1:00 PM. The races have attracted big fields —- entries can be found at  

13 Virginia-Breds Reach The Winners Circle In March

A total of 13 Virginia-bred horses won a race in the month of March including a handful who pushed their six figure bankrolls even higher and five who won their first lifetime race, one of which went on to compete in a key Derby prep race — the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

Divine Interventio pushed his bankroll close to the $300,000 mark with a win March 16th at Laurel. Photo by Jim McCue.

Divine Interventio won his sixth career race March 16th in grand come from behind fashion at Laurel. The 6 year old Malibu Moon gelding was last at the half by 12 1/2 lengths in a 6 1/2 furlong starter allowance. Jockey Johan Rosado led the comeback and at the wire, Divine Interventio was best by one-half length over Ten Hit. The winner collected his 19th “top three” finish in 30 starts and has a bankroll now of $294,988. The victor was bred by the William Backer Revocable Trust.

Sir Rockport continued a solid 2019 with his third win in five starts March 8th at Laurel. The 9 year old Rockport Harbor gelding also bagged second and third place finishes this year and has career earnings of $222,993 from 48 starts. He was bred by Legacy Farm & Larry Johnson. 

9-year-old Sir Rockport won his second straight race March 8th at Laurel. Photo by Jim McCue.

Lenstar’s $85,000 allowance win at Oaklawn the same day was his third overall from 22 starts. The 4 year old Shackleford gelding went gate to wire in the 1 1/16th miles test and held off Catdaddy at the wire. Bred by Lazy Lane Farms, Lenstar earned his second straight allowance win. 

Louden’s Gray connected at Turf Paradise March 17th and got the winner’s share of a $9,000 purse. The 8 year old Street Sense gelding won by 3 1/2 lengths and from 47 starts to date, has 20 “in the money” finishes worth $125,525 in earnings. 

Bucky’s Pick went farther west for his latest victory. The 5 year old Exchange Rate gelding was tops in a $33,000 claiming event March 1st at Santa Anita. The Doug O’Neill trainee has competed solely in California and has amassed $112,687 in winnings at Santa Anita and Del Mar.

Chess Chief, a Dallas Stewart trainee, captured a $43,000 maiden special weight at Fair Grounds March 2nd, his first win in five starts at the time. The 3 year old was bred by Morgan’s Ford Farm and is trained by Dallas Stewart. Most recently, he finished a respectable fifth in the $1 Million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland April 6th. Chess Chief crossed 8 1/2 lengths behind the winner — Vekoma — after being sent off at 85-1. 

Another first time winner was Largent, a 3 year old Into Mischief colt who won a $50,000 maiden special weight at Gulfstream in his first lifetime start. The Todd Pletcher trainee went gate to wire and was best in a 12 horse field. He was bred by Lazy Lane Farms. 

Mucho Mas won her maiden special weight at Oaklawn March 30th with a purse of $90,000. The Mucho Macho Man filly also faced a large field of 12 and edged Trapped N My Hand by a head. Bred by Jim & Katie Fitzgerald, Mucho Mas has earned $79,900 from a trio of Arkansas outs. The Fitzgeralds, along with co-breeder Jim Ackerman, saw their Alphadar collect the winner’s share of a $21,000 purse in a Gulfstream maiden claimer March 24th. 

Wahoowah also prevailed at the same track in the same class March 29th. Bred by Audley Farm Equine, the 5 year old Bodemeister gelding was best by a neck with Julien Leparoux up top.  

Arkadag won by 5 3/4 lengths March 24th at Laurel. Photo by Jim McCue.

Gentle Prince and Arkadag also earned wins in March. The former, bred by Three Ladies Racing Stable, prevailed in a claiming race at Golden Gate Fields while the latter, bred by Mr. & Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin III, captured a $20,000 claimer March 3rd at Laurel. 

And as most everyone knows, Virginia-bred Out for a Spin won an allowance optional claimer at Fair Grounds March 16th, which followed a maiden special weight triumph there on December 29th. The 3 year old Hard Spun filly, a Dallas Stewart trainee, won the Grade I Ashland Stakes at Keeneland April 6th! Read about that big upset win at The hot horse was bred by the William Backer Revocable Trust.

Virginia-Bred Out for a Spin Wins Grade I Ashland Stakes At Keeneland

The following appeared in on April 6th. Out for a Spin, upset winner of the Ashland Stakes, was bred by the William Backer Revocable Estate.

Commonwealth Stable’s Out for a Spin pulled off a 52-1 stunner in the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1) April 6 at Keeneland.

The 3-year-old daughter of Hard Spun  entered stakes competition for the first time Saturday for trainer Dallas Stewart and turned back 5-2 second choice Restless Rider with a gritty run under Paco Lopez after putting away even-money favorite Jaywalk off the turn for home. The final time was 1:44.95.

Out for a Spin captured the April 6th Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. Photo courtesy of Keeneland.

The top three should meet again in the May 3 Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1), as both Restless Rider and Jaywalk are expected to continue on to Churchill Downs.

Victory in the 1 1/16-mile Ashland gave Virginia-bred Out for a Spin 100 points to rank fifth on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard. Restless Rider ranks eighth with 62 points, and Jaywalk is 10th with 55 points.

Out for a Spin’s victory was sweet salve on the wound sustained by Stewart just one race prior, when his trainee Cathedral Reader was vanned off and euthanized after sustaining a catastrophic injury to her right front leg during the Madison Stakes (G1).

“In this great game that we have, there are ups and downs, and this is an up,” Stewart said. “Great to have a win today with this big, beautiful filly. She took it (almost) wire-to-wire, and Paco gave her a great ride. We’re going to take (her) to the Kentucky Oaks from here.”

Entered off a 3 3/4-length victory March 16 in a 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional claimer at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Out for a Spin broke alertly and was forwardly placed three wide into the first turn as Jaywalk took the lead. The eventual winner rated second while the champion 2-year-old filly of 2018 set opening fractions of :23.19, :46.46, and 1:11.60, then Lopez made his move around the far turn.

Out for a Spin took a short lead as Jaywalk began to fade, but Restless Rider, making her first start for trainer Ken McPeek since late November, came to her with a determined run under Brian Hernandez Jr. The two hooked up stride for stride, but Out for a Spin would not be denied the hard-fought decision. She returned $106.20 on a $2 win ticket.

“Dallas told me out of the gate, this filly is fast,” said Lopez, who collected his second stakes score on the Saturday card after winning the $200,000 Shakertown Stakes (G2T) with Imprimis. “I’m really lucky, winning the races like that.”

Out for a Spin now has three wins and a third from five starts, with earnings of $354,903. She was bred by the William M. Backer Revocable Trust out of the Came Home mare My Mammy, the dam of stakes winner Sweet Victory and stakes-placed Ferdinanda. The mare produced an Uncle Mo  filly in 2018 and was bred to Malibu Moon  for 2019.

Hernandez was proud of Restless Rider, who won the Darley Alcibiades Stakes (G1) at Keeneland in the fall and turned in her third consecutive runner-up effort after seconds in the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Golden Rod Stakes (G2), both at Churchill Downs.

“For a filly that hasn’t run since last November, she stepped up and ran a big race,” the jockey said. “You always want to win these grade 1s, but you’ve gotta be proud of her and look forward to the Oaks. (At the end) she kept fighting. From the sixteenth pole home, she was getting tired, but she kept digging and fighting at (Out for a Spin). (Restless Rider) wanted to win, and she laid it all out there.”

“This sets us up good for the Kentucky Oaks,” McPeek said. “We are in a good position for the next dance. We are pleased.”

John Servis, the trainer of Jaywalk, echoed McPeek’s sentiments regarding his own runner.

“I was very happy with her effort. I think this sets her up for the Kentucky Oaks,” he said. “She is right where we want her to be. Hindsight being 20-20, I wish we would have sat off the pace a little bit. I thought she was the best filly. I told Javier to put her on the lead. She got pressured from the outside (horses). At the sixteenth pole when they spread out, she went to running again. Javier said we would have been better off if we sat off the pace.”