Monthly Archives: July 2019

Nominations Are In For $100,000 Virginia-Bred/Sired Stakes Aug. 10th At Colonial Downs

The top three finishers from the 2018 Meadow Stable Stakes for Virginia-Bred/Sired horses all nominated to the 2019 edition, which will be a co-featured event on the Saturday August 10th program at Colonial Downs.

The New Kent oval will usher in its first thoroughbred racing season since 2013 on Thursday August 8th at 5 PM. The Saturday card will be a Virginia showcase of sorts featuring four $100,000 turf stakes for Virginia-Bred/Sired horses. The program will also include the M. Tyson Gilpin, Edward P. Evans and Nellie Mae Cox Stakes.

Homespun Hero was best in an exciting Meadow Stable Stakes August 4th, 2018. Photo courtesy of Jim McCue.

25 Virginia-bred horses are nominated to the 5 1/2 furlong Meadow Stable stakes. Homespun Hero, a 6 year old Hard Spun horse bred by Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin, captured the ’18 edition at Laurel. The race was contested over the dirt after heavy rains forced it off the turf. Determined Vision and Fly E Dubai finished second and third in that race. The former won the ’18 White Oak Stakes while the latter bankrolled $92,169 last year.

Other horses of note that nominated are Lenstar, a Nick Zito trainee bred by Lazy Lane Farms. The 5-year-old Shackleford gelding scored back-to-back allowance wins at Oaklawn earlier this year. Phil Schoenthal’s River Deep won both the Bert Allen and Hansel Stakes in ’18 with Sheldon Russell in the irons. Glenn Thompson’s 12-year-old stalwart Two Notch Road also nominated. The Partners Hero gelding has bankrolled $533,193 and prevailed in Virginia-bred stakes in four straight years, from 2014 – 2017. All six horses noted are also entered into the Edward P. Evans Stakes. 

Sheldon Russell guided River Deep to victory in the $75,000 Hansel Stakes August 4th, 2018. Photo by Jim McCue.

A total of 43 fillies and mares nominated to the M. Tyson Gilpin Stakes including 2018 runners-up, Virginia Fable and Up Hill Battle. Susan Cooney’s Virginia Fable lost by a head to winner Altamura then followed with a third in the Oakley Stakes. Up Hill Battle scored a trio of top three finishes in Virginia-bred events last year and has earned $250,600 in her career. She is also entered in the Nellie Me Cox Stakes. Holly Hundy, bred by Lazy Lane Farms, had maiden special weight and allowance wins in back-to-back starts at Santa Anita this spring. River Gal, who is also entered in the Evans Stakes, won two-year-old Jamestown Stakes last year.

A pair of horses on the Derby trail earlier this year are among 34 nominated to the Edward P. Evans Stakes. Boldor, bred by Carlos Moore & Gillian Gordon-Moore, lost by a half length in February’s Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn, then finished sixth four weeks later in the Grade 3 Southwest. Trainer Steve Asmussen’s colt has not seen action since. After winning a maiden special weight at Keeneland March 2nd, Dallas Stewart’s Chess Chief moved onto the Grade 2 Bluegrass Stakes and took sixth. The Into Mischief colt was bred by Morgan’s Ford Farm.  

Boldor was named a TDN “Rising Star” based off his tight win in a maiden special weight race October 25th, 2018 at Keeneland. Photo by Coady Photography.

Barclay Tagg’s Ferdinanda and Michael Stidham’s Tasting the Stars lead a nomination list of 38 fillies and mares to the Nellie Mae Cox Stakes. Dating back to last September, Ferdinanda had six consecutive first or second place finishes in allowance starts between Gulfstream and Belmont. The Giant’s Causeway filly was bred by the William Backer Revocable Estate. Tasting the Stars is a perfect 3-for-3 in her young career. She won easily in a maiden special weight and allowance race this winter at Fair Grounds, then captured a $75,000 local stakes at Monmouth July 28th. The Bodemeister filly was bred by Audley Farm Equine.  

Colonial Downs Opens Barn Area July 25th With $500,000 In Daily Purse Structure, Horsemen Incentives

The following appeared on the Colonial Downs website.

With the barn area opening just one week from today, July 25, anticipation is running high for 2019 Colonial Downs race meeting after a six-year hiatus of flat racing in Virginia, highlighted by the enthusiastic arrival of trainers across the Middle Atlantic, Northeast and Midwestern regions, and attracted by a strong purse structure of $500,000 per day and major capital improvements throughout the facility.

For its 15-day meeting beginning August 8, the Colonial Downs Group has executed wide-sweeping improvements and upgrades to the racetrack, including a new irrigation system for its world-renowned Secretariat turf course, renovations to the 1 ¼-mile dirt track, stable area and paddock, receiving and test barns and dormitories, new jockey’s room kitchen and the installation of a new tote board and video board.

Stabling capacity will accommodate approximately 700 stalls.

Among the many trainers who have committed to stalls for the upcoming meet are multiple graded-stakes winning conditioners John Servis, (Smarty Jones, Jaywalk), Brian Lynch (Oscar Performance, Heart to Heart, Grand Arch) Larry Rivelli (Cocked and Loaded, Wellabled) and Steve Klesaris (Diabolical, Sky Diva), as well as Ferris Allen,  Alan Bedard, Gerald Brooks, Robert Bordis, Mike Campbell, Candy Courtemanche, Michael Ewing; Jack Fisher, Karen Godsey; Kenny Huffman, Lilli Kurtinecz, Chuck Lawrence, R.B. McCutcheon, Sarah Nagle, Joan Scott and Tom Vance.

Those not stabling at Colonial, but who have expressed interest in shipping horses to race are trainers Rusty Arnold, Chad Brown, Mark Casse, Arnaud Delacour, Shug McGaughey, H. Graham Motion, Jamie Ness, Dale Romans, Mike Stidham, Jonathan Thomas, Michael Trombetta, Todd Pletcher and Ian Wilkes, among others.

Along with the trainers, jockeys who plan on riding regularly at the meet include Adam Bishizza,  Horacio Karamanos, who is the all-time leading jockey at Colonial Downs, Chuck Lopez,  Feargal Lynch, Trevor McCarthy, Frankie Pennington, Ruben Silvera, Edwin Rivera  and Erin Walker.

With Colonial Downs offering the highest jockey’s mount fee in the mid-Atlantic area, expect participation from top riders around the country.

“We are extremely excited by the level of interest from trainers coming in to stable from many locations, and the overall support we have received from the racing community as we approach the opening of our meet,” said Jill Byrne, Colonial Downs Vice President Racing Operations. “Our goal from the beginning has been to establish the highest standards in delivering a first-class racing and stabling environment for our horsemen by improving the basic structures of the facility and hiring experienced professionals from around the industry to ensure quality and integrity in our product.”

In addition to the minimum daily $500,000 purse structure, there will be added incentives for horsemen, including:

  • Each owner will receive $1000 per start for any of its horses which do not earn $1000 in that race.
  • Each trainer also will receive $300 for each time they start a horse.
  • Colonial Downs will offer free horse transportation originating from Fair Hill Training Center.

In addition to Byrne, who ran the broadcasting division at Churchill Downs and most recently in the racing department at the Breeders’ Cup,  the Colonial Downs racing office is led by Racing Secretary Allison De Luca, who also is Racing Secretary at Tampa Bay Downs, and Assistant Racing Secretary Sam Elliott. Carlos Garcia, a leading trainer in Maryland for many years, will be the Stall Superintendent. Also arriving from Tampa Bay Downs is Anthony “Spike” Ranno, the  Starter and Dennis Petrucelli, the Clerk of Scales.

The highlight of the stakes calendar will be the $250,000 Virginia Derby (G3) and the $150,000 Fasig-Tipton Virginia Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, both on August 31.

Colonial Downs’ Jeff Wingrove Strives To Create Top Notch Experience For Horsemen & Fans

In the time that thoroughbred racing last took place at Colonial Downs in 2013 to the time a new era will be ushered in six years later on August 8th, one constant has remained through the regime change and down time. 

Jeff Wingrove started working at Colonial in 2005 and after serving in various positions with added responsibilities over the years, he is still on board and has a key role in nearly every aspect of track operations as efforts gear up for the return of live thoroughbred racing. 

With horses due to begin arriving July 25th and racing set to start two weeks later, it would be an understatement to say this is a hectic time for him. And this comes on the heels of having opened three satellite wagering facilities inside Rosie’s Gaming Emporium sites in New Kent, Vinton and Richmond within the last several months. 

“You never know what one day is going to bring,” said Wingrove. “No two days are ever the same. There’s a vast amount of work that has already been done to meet the aggressive schedule of the Rosie’s openings but still lots to be done in time for racing’s return. The pressure is on now with horses due in next week.”

Jeff Wingrove has been employed at Colonial Downs since 2005.

When the last horse crossed the finish line in 2013, Wingrove’s title was Director of Simulcasting & Mutuels, though he oversaw Guest Services, Group Sales and the TV/Audio departments as well. Shortly after, he inherited the job of Turf Course Superintendent despite the fact no racing was planned at the track. The goal was to keep the country’s widest grass course in top notch condition should a potential new track owner materialize. Wingrove eventually was laid off in late 2016  but brought back fourteen months later once a track sale had taken place. “I was the last person to be let go and the first person brought back,” he quipped.

Wingrove’s new title is Racing Operations Manager. At any given time, he can be seen working with track vendors and partners to install a new infield tote board with a LED video screen, or a new GPS based timing system that will gather more in race data for trainers and horseplayers. An hour later, he could be in the stable area helping with barn upgrades and renovations. Next, he could be scheduling simulcast tracks for the Rosie’s and VA-Horseplay betting centers. Then he could be checking for burned out bulbs in track’s the massive lighting system. And that is just a snapshot of his responsibilities. 

“Jeff has been the most valuable resource for me since the day I arrived at Colonial Downs,” said Jill Byrne, Vice-President of Racing Operations. “His wealth of knowledge in every aspect of not only Colonial Downs, but the industry as a whole, from racing, track operations, the turf and dirt course to simulcast and wagering and everything in between has made the process of getting everything up and running go smoothly and efficiently. His dedication and work ethic are tops, plus he’s got a great sense of humor and always has a smile to offer up!”

Wingrove says getting to work with Byrne is a career highlight. “I was thrilled when I heard she was coming here,” he said. “I was actually worried that I wouldn’t be able to live up to the expectations she had. But it turns out we agree on all issues about 99% of the time. I cherish everything I can learn from her experiences in racing.”  

Once August 8th arrives, the Colonial Downs racing season will continue every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 5 PM through September 7th. The Grade 3 Virginia Derby is scheduled for August 31st and will highlight a “Racing Revival Weekend”. 

“Knowing that racing is coming back is the best part now of working here,” said Wingrove. “It’s been a long six years. I’m from Virginia and want to see Virginia racing on top of the world. I look forward to having a great relationship with the horsemen,” he added. “We have the potential to be one of the major tracks in the country.” 

Kentucky Derby Winner & Virginia-Bred Sea Hero Dies In Turkey At Age 29

The following appeared in The Paulick Report July 14th.

Sea Hero, winner of the 1993 Kentucky Derby, has died in Turkey from the infirmities of old age, according to a report from the Turkish Jockey Club. He was the oldest living Kentucky Derby winner at 29 years old.

Born in Virginia the son of Polish Navy raced as a homebred for Paul Mellon’s Rokeby Stables and for trainer Mack Miller. He broke his maiden in his fourth career start, which kicked off a three-race winning streak that culminated with a 5 3/4-length score in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes.

Sea Hero wins the 1993 Kentucky Derby with Jerry Bailey aboard.

Sea Hero wouldn’t win again until the Kentucky Derby, seven months and five starts later. Before venturing to Churchill Downs, the colt finished ninth in the G3 Palm Beach Stakes, third in a Gulfstream Park allowance, and fourth in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

Sea Hero left the gate in the Kentucky Derby at odds of 12-1, looking up at favorite Prairie Bayou, whom he finished 2 3/4 lengths behind in the Blue Grass Stakes. After settling mid-pack, a bold move through traffic in the final turn by jockey Jerry Bailey put Sea Hero in position to contend on the rail at the top of the stretch. Together, they took the inside path to blow by leader Personal Hope and outkicked a late cavalry charge by a trio of horses to finish 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Prairie Bayou.

Prairie Bayou got his revenge in the Preakness Stakes, with Sea Hero finishing off the board. Sea Hero was again out of the money behind winner Colonial Affair in the Belmont Stakes, but he righted the ship later in the year to win the G1 Travers Stakes.

After winning his seasonal bow at age four, a Belmont Park allowance, Sea Hero went winless for the remainder of what was an ambitious campaign. He tried the turf for the first time in his second start of the year, another Belmont allowance, running second by a neck. Then, Sea Hero ran third on the main track in the G2 Brooklyn Handicap before returning to the grass to finish second in the G2 Bowling Green Handicap.

Sea Hero retired at the end of the 1994 racing season with six wins in 24 starts for earnings of $2,929,869.

He entered stud at Lane’s End in Versailles, Ky., where he resided from 1995 to 1999. His most notable domestic runners include Grade 1 winner Cindys Hero and Grade 2 winners Heros Tribute and Desert Hero.

Sea Hero was then purchased by the Turkish Jockey Club and exported to Karacabey Pension Stud for the 2000 season. He excelled in his new surroundings, siring Group 1 winner Confidence among many other group stakes winners, until he was pensioned in 2016.

His contributions as a broodmare sire include multiple Grade 3 winner Falling Sky, out of the stakes-placed Sea Dragoness.

Sea Hero has been immortalized with a life-sized statue in the paddock of Saratoga Race Course, as well as a bronze statue at the National Sporting Library in his native Virginia.

With the passing of Sea Hero, the oldest living Kentucky Derby winner is now Go For Gin, a 28-year-old who won the race in 1994 and now resides as a pensioner at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Hall of Champions in Lexington, Ky.

Colonial Downs “Good News Story” Byrne Tells Commission

The following appeared in The Racing Biz and was written by Nick Hahn.

On Wednesday, July 10, stakeholders provided one of their last formal updates to the Racing Commission prior to the August 8 re-opening of Colonial Downs.

In other words: they’re into the stretch!

Jill Byrne, Colonial’s Vice-President of Racing Operations, updated commissioners on a few ways Colonial Downs may — and may not — be similar to previous meets.

“We’re a good news story in an industry that could use some good news,” commented Byrne on the reopening of Colonial Downs. She added that the industry “faces a challenging time in its perception to safety.”

Byrne said she expected that about 80 percent of races at Colonial will be on the on the turf, “which is popular to wagerers, horsemen and for safety.” That’s approximately similar to the mix the track had in its previous incarnation.

As for the dirt course, track officials are awaiting results on testing of the rebuilt dirt surface and cushion in preparing for the opening of Colonial’s backstretch on July 25. The dirt surface at Colonial Downs had previously been annually converted for harness racing.

Jockeys at Colonial Downs will utilize padded riding crops according to Byrne. The crops are similar of those tested in a few races on Colonial Turf Cup day in June of 2008 at the New Kent County track and have become more prevalent in subsequent years.

One challenge: the shrinking horse population. In 2013, when Colonial last ran, a total of more than 58,000 horses made at least one start during the year nationwide. That number was down to 49,390 last year and, with shrinking foal crops, is expected to continue to fall.

That means that the occurrence of 14-horse fields at the new Colonial Downs may not be as frequent as it once was. On the flip side, Colonial’s generous purse structure — it’s expecting to give away about $500,000 per day and, for example, a first-level allowance will offer a purse of $60,000, far higher than any other regional track — means that it could prove a draw for horsemen from far and wide. Colonial’s 15-day meet offers racing Thursday through Saturday from August 8th to September 7th with a 5:00 pm first race post time.

Virginia’s governing body approved some operational requests that require veterinary records of the past 30 days on claimed horses and the reduction the Lasix treatment from 10 ml to 6 ml, typical of current industry standards. A roster of racing officials, stewards, signal outlets and use of benevolence money were also approved during the meeting.

Commissioners may gather one more time prior to the meet, possibly on July 22, to consider a Colonial Downs request to reduce take-outs from 18% to 16% on win-place-show wagers and from 22% to 20% on exotic wagering. A proposal to lower takeout on certain wagers such as a possible Pick-5 to 12% is also under consideration.

Licensing for the 2019 harness meet at Shenandoah Downs in Woodstock, VA was also approved by racing commissioners. The 16-day harness meet runs from September 13, 2019 to October 13, 2019 and is located in Virginia’s northern Shenandoah Valley off Interstate I-81.

Colonial Downs Names Turf Course After Secretariat

Colonial Downs Partners with Tweedy Family to Spotlight Virginia Native Son, 1973 Triple Crown Winner and Racing Champion

Colonial Downs Group announced today plans to name its turf course for 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat. A name synonymous with the sport of Thoroughbred racing, Secretariat was born at Meadow Stable in Doswell, Va., in 1970. He became a national hero in his historic 1973 Triple Crown campaign that set records in each of the classic races culminating with a performance for the ages when he won the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths.

Secretariat’s Virginia roots trace back to the 1930s when Christopher Chenery established a breeding and racing operation at the Meadow, a farm that had been in his family since colonial days. In the late 1960s, Chenery’s daughter Penny, took the management reins at the farm and earned the informal title of the “First Lady of Racing” for her popularity with fans during the Triple Crown campaigns of Riva Ridge in 1972 and that of Secretariat one year later.

Kate Chenery Tweedy, at the Colonial Downs- Rosie’s Gaming Emporium ribbon cutting ceremony July 1st.

The Secretariat Turf Course will be ready when Colonial Downs opens for live racing Aug. 8. The collaboration is part of a licensing agreement with the Tweedy family and that also will feature an annual Secretariat Day at the racetrack as well as equine welfare fund-raising and other promotional opportunities, including festivities planned for Virginia Derby Day on Aug. 31. “Colonial Downs is thrilled to partner with the Tweedy family and spotlight one of Virginia racing’s brightest stars, who was foaled less than 50 miles from our own gates,” said Jill Byrne, Colonial Downs Vice President of Racing operations. “Secretariat’s enduring legacy continues to reverberate with new generations of fans, and it is only fitting that Colonial Downs recognizes this native son of the Commonwealth.”

“My family and I are excited that live racing has returned to Virginia and that we can contribute by sharing the legacy of Secretariat.” said Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of Penny Chenery. “The Secretariat Turf Course will no doubt witness great racing contests, something my mother and my grandfather would have especially loved to see. Our family also applauds Colonial Downs for their efforts to engage existing horse lovers and generate new racing fans.” Tweedy is co-author of Secretariat’s Meadow, which celebrates Virginia’s racing history and the Meadow’s history of producing champions.

Behind The Scenes Work Continues At Colonial Downs In Preparation For August 8th Opener

(NEW KENT, VA — 7/7/19) —-With less than five weeks to go until live thoroughbred racing returns to Virginia, things are ramping up at the New Kent oval. Behind the scenes work continues in anticipation of the stable area opening July 25th and the first race going to post on August 8th.

Dan Waits, Executive Director of the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America, recently visited Colonial Downs to get a first hand look at the facility. In the next week or so, Waits will select a chaplain to service backstretch workers who will soon be on the grounds to support hundreds of horses that will compete. 

“A good chaplain makes the environment better for everyone,” said Waits. “They are a friend to all. They walk the backstretch and stable area every day to check on the well being of everyone associated with the horses. The chaplain is a trusted person that serves many duties . No two days are ever the same.”

Dan Waits is shown wiith VAHBPA Executive Director Frank Petramalo on a recent visit.

Track chaplains offer jockey and gate prayers, help provide pantry and clothing items, offer guidance both one on one and in group forums, provide a listening ear, host events for workers and their families, work with local clergy, provide transportation to medical appointments and grocery stores, establish community relations and serve as an overall support system.

“A chaplain may pick a night to gather for a service in the horsemen’s building or track kitchen and follow with a meal, or even take a group for bible study at a local restaurant,” added Waits.  

The Racetrack Chaplaincy services 47 different racetracks around the country with 37 chaplains. “Our job is to support the local chaplaincy with proper training and resources, and serve as a pastor to all the chaplains to make sure they are healthy and their needs are met,” said Waits. “Of all the ministries I’ve served in my career, this one has been the most fulfilling.”

Allison De Luca is the Director of Racing at Colonial and her job is to attract horses and stables to compete during the five week season. Her goal is to offer safe, competitive racing for both fans on track and those playing via simulcast around the country.  She has an identical role at Tampa Bay Downs, which just concluded their season this past weekend. De Luca arrived in New Kent mid-week and is busy setting up the racing office and reaching out to horsemen. With an average of $500,000 in daily purses, a $1,000 participation incentive to owners of horses finishing fifth or below, and a $300 trainer’s bonus for every start, she has solid selling points to relay.   

Allison De Luca is prepping the racing office for the 2019 meet.

“We have quite a few stall applications now and they are still coming in,” she said. “In my travels to see horsemen, they have definitely shown interest. I think people really liked racing at Colonial in the past and they’re happy it’s coming back. In addition to the amazing turf course, I hope horsemen know we run dirt races too. Both racing surfaces are excellent.”

DeLuca has been at Tampa Bay Downs since 2006 and sees similarities between it and Colonial. “The racing surfaces at Tampa are unbelievable too. Horsemen love it. The track itself has an almost old fashioned feel to it. It’s small, friendly and the action is close up. And Tampa management cares about racing. You can see that at Colonial with people like John (Marshall) and Jill (Byrne),” she added. “They are gung-ho for racing.” 

Former Colonial Downs trainer Carlos Garcia also visited the track recently. The 78-year-old native of Argentina was not preparing to send a string of horses to compete however. He was coming up with a game plan to accommodate other people’s horses in his new job as Stall Superintendent.  

Since retiring from racing in 2014, Garcia has served as Director of Stabling at Tampa Bay Downs and also works a part time security position during sporting events at Amalie Arena to help satisfy his passion for sports.

In 44 years of training, Garcia’s horses made 8,389 starts, reached the winners circle 1,354 times and earned $25.9 million in purse monies. Long time Colonial Downs followers will remember his Action Andy, who won the 2011 Kitten’s Joy and 2012 Da Hoss Stakes. Baltimore Bob, who competed in both the Colonial Turf Cup and Virginia Derby in 2008, provided Garcia with a spot in the Commonwealth’s highest profile races.

Carlos Garcia retired from training horses in 2014, 44 years after he started.

“I always loved the country atmosphere of Colonial Downs,” he said. “It’s not a cement jungle like you find at other places. Horses do well here and the purses are great now. I’m so glad I was hired to work at the track this summer.”

It took a while for Garcia to transition away training, but he is adjusting well now. “I love working at the race tracks. I get to see a lot of familiar faces and especially enjoy talking to the grooms and hotwalkers. I consider myself to be a people person,” he continued, “But even more so, I’m a detail person. If I can use my experience to plant seeds and help make them better at their jobs, then I’m happy.”

Colonial Downs will usher in its first thoroughbred racing season since 2013 on August 8th. A five week meet will continue thru September 7th with racing every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 5 PM. The Grade 3 Virginia Derby is scheduled for Saturday August 31st. More details are available at      

Catholic Boy Back To Dirt For Grade 2 Suburban Handicap At Belmont

The following appeared in The Paulick Report and was written by Ryan Martin. Did you know there are now 7 different Off Track Betting sites in Virginia where you can wager the Belmont Derby, Suburban Handicap and other big stakes this weekend? Try any of the four VA-Horseplay locations at Breakers Sports Grille, Ponies & Pints, Buckets Bar & Grill and the Windmill OTB Sports Grill, and the three new Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums in New Kent, Vinton and Richmond. And you can wager on line as well via four industry partners like,, and

Ultra consistent Catholic Boy has won at the highest level on both dirt and turf and will now go for back-to-back graded stakes triumphs on both surfaces when breaking from the rail against ten others in Saturday’s 133rd running of the Grade 2, $700,000 Suburban for older horses going a mile and a quarter over the Belmont Park main track.

In the past, the Suburban has been used to build on eventual Eclipse Award-winning campaigns by the likes of Lemon Drop Kid (2000), Mineshaft (2003) and Invasor (2006).

Catholic Boy will look to add his name to that list.

Catholic Boy trainer Jonathan Thomas is the son of VEA Track Superintendent J.D. Thomas.

The 4-year-old bay More Than Ready colt won the Grade 2 Dixie over the turf at Pimlico in his seasonal debut for owners Robert LaPenta, Madaket Stables, Siena Farm and Twin Creeks Racing Stables. The Jonathan Thomas trainee was a dual Grade 1 winner last year, taking the Belmont Derby Invitational and subsequently the Travers at Saratoga, where he recorded a career best 104 Beyer Speed Figure.

At 2, Catholic Boy won the Grade 3 With Anticipation and rounded out 2017 with a win over the Aqueduct main track in the Grade 2 Remsen.

“It would be a pretty remarkable addition to his resume,” Thomas said of winning graded stakes on both surfaces for three years in a row. “The main reason he started on grass is because during the early part of the summer there’s more route opportunities in the grass and that’s why we went that direction. He never struck us as a sprinter and because he happened to win on the grass it just made sense for us to keep him on it until other opportunities came up.”

Thomas said Catholic Boy has trained well since his half-length triumph in the Dixie on May 18 at Pimlico over dual graded stakes placed Admission Office.

Manny Franco cools down Catholic Boy after winning the Remsen Stakes.

“He came back very well. We were fortunate that he had time off because we wanted to give him time off, not because of any injuries,” Thomas said. “He came back great we were really happy with his effort in the Dixie and subsequently he’s trained well. Everything’s going really well. He’s always been a clockwork horse in the sense that he’s very reliable and consistent so we’ve been seeing more of the same from him. Hopefully, that translates to a good effort on Saturday.”

A victory in the Suburban would give Thomas plenty of options for Catholic Boy on both surfaces.

“It will have a big say in where we head next or which direction we stay on,” Thomas said. “Hopefully he runs well because we would love to come back and think about a race like the [Grade 1, $750,000] Woodward [on August 31 at Saratoga].”

Bred in Kentucky by Fred W. Hertrich III & John D. Fielding, Catholic Boy is out of the Bernardini broodmare Song of Bernadette. He is a winner of 7-of-11 career starts, six of which were against graded stakes company, and is scheduled to stand at Claiborne Farm upon retirement.

Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, who has been aboard for the past five journeys, has the call for Saturday’s race from the inside post.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who won the Suburban two years ago with Keen Ice, will saddle a pair of regally bred runners with graded stakes winner Marconi and dual allowance winner Wooderson.

Breaking from post 4 under Jose Lezcano, Marconi enters the Suburban off three stakes victories this year, the most recent was a wire-to-wire effort in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational. The gray or roan son of Tapit is a half-brother to 2013 Grade 1 Breeders Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man, who won the 2012 Suburban.

Marconi set the pace for the first time in his nine-race career last out in the Brooklyn, which was his subsequent start off of victories in the Skip Away on March 29 at Gulfstream Park and the Flat Out Invitational on May 9 over the Belmont main track.

Bred in Kentucky by Brushwood Stable, Marconi was the second most expensive purchase from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2016 and was bought for $2 million from the consignment operation of Eaton Sales. He is owned by Bridlewood Farm, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor.

Also from the Pletcher barn in Let’s Go Stable’s Wooderson, who is a recent allowance winner over the Monmouth Park main track. The son of Awesome Again and half-brother to 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra was a 5 ½ length winner of his last start where he stretched out to 1 1/16 miles after a win over a muddy dirt surface at Keeneland on April 26.

Wooderson’s only graded stakes effort was in last year’s Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park, where he was seventh as the lukewarm favorite. Wooderson was bred in Kentucky by Heaven Trees Farm and was purchased for $400,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2016.

Hall of Famer John Velazquez will pilot Wooderson who will leave from post 7.

Also set to saddle of pair of runners is trainer Jimmy Jerkens, both of which will bear the red and tan colors of Don Little, Jr.’s Centennial Farms.

Graded stakes-winner Rocketry, who enters the 10-furlong test off of a pair of runner-up efforts at Belmont Park to fellow Suburban aspirant Marconi, will break from post 3 under Joel Rosario.

Last out, the 5-year-old son of Hard Spun was beaten a half-length to Marconi in the Brooklyn after sitting well off the pace in the Flat Out, where he was beaten 2 ¾ lengths.

Perhaps his biggest claim to fame is breaking a long-time track record set by the great Man o’ War when taking the 13-furlong Temperance Hill Invitational last September over the Belmont main track where he stopped the clock in 2:40.00. He recorded a 100 Beyer Speed Figure in the Temperance Hill and replicated that number in his subsequent start where he won the Grade 2 Marathon at Churchill Downs.

Making his stakes debut for Jerkens and Centennial Farms is Preservationist who won a third level allowance race over a sloppy main track on May 23 at Belmont Park, where he recorded a 101 Beyer. The lightly-raced 6-year-old son of Arch has never finished off the board in seven career starts, four of which were wins. Preservationist was a narrow winner was a one-mile Aqueduct allowance race two starts back, which was his second start off an 11-month layoff.

Preservationist will be ridden by jockey Junior Alvarado from post 2.

Both runners will look to give Jerkens his third victory in the Suburban after taking back-to-back editions with Effinex in 2015-16.

Seeking a second graded stakes victory in his career is G M B Racing’s well-travelled Lone Sailor, who will also look to give jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. a seventh graded stakes win this meet.

Trained by Tom Amoss, Lone Sailor won the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby last September at Remington Park and has since placed three times against graded stakes company. After a third-place effort in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds, he was a late-closing second beaten a neck to Quip in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap, where he ran his best Beyer Speed Figure with a 98. Most recently, he was third, beaten six lengths in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita on May 27.

Lone Sailor will break from post 5.

Completing the field for the Suburban are Mead Hall [post 6, Tomas Meija],Carlino [post 8, Manny Franco] Realm [post 9, Luis Saez], Cordmaker [post 10, Victor Carrasco] and Pavel [post 11, Mario Gutierrez].

The Suburban will go off as Race 10 on the 11-race Stars & Stripes Racing Festival card. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.

Colonial Downs Celebrates Their New Rosie’s Richmond Site With a Grand Opening/ Ribbon Cutting

Colonial Downs opened its third Rosie’s Gaming Emporium site Monday morning on Midlothian Turnpike in Richmond at the site of former Kmart Building, just north of Chippenham Parkway.

This Rosie’s site features 700 Historical Horse Racing terminals mixed between smoking, non-smoking and high limits areas. It also has a live simulcast wagering area where up to ten different track signals can be wagered daily in the afternoon and evening hours.

The OTB area itself has 30 seats and will be offering action on the upcoming Saratoga, Del Mar and of course, Colonial Downs summer meets.

The Richmond Rosie’s has 225 employees, a 100 seat restaurant, a large bar/lounge area and 840 parking spaces, most of which were filled by 12 Noon on Monday.

After opening ceremonies that featured speakers Rita McClenney (President/CEO of Virginia Tourism Corp.), Cynthia Newbille (Richmond City Council President) and Brent Stevens (Colonial Downs Group) among others, a ribbon cutting took place to officially open the highly anticipated facility.

Rosie’s Richmond General Manager Phillip Harris announced several $10,000 check presentations to local non-profits including Feed More and Goodwill of Central Virginia.

Swagger, an 8-year-old thoroughbred horse, and Cover Girl, a 15-year-old quarter horse, were on hand to help usher in the new era. The 2019 racing season begins August 8th at Colonial Downs. Swagger is retired now, so he will not be competing in New Kent this summer.

Swagger however, had to check out the inside of the building to give his stamp of approval, which he did.

Among those in attendance was Kate Tweedy whose mother, Penny Chenery Tweedy, owned Secretariat.

To date, the Colonial Downs Group has already spent $225 million in Virginia as of June, 2019. Over 700 people have been hired that represents $24 million in annual payroll. 2020 payroll will exceed $36 million in wages an benefits for Virginians.

A fourth Rosie’s will open this fall in Hampton in the Power Plant Complex across I-64 from the former Colonial OTB.