Monthly Archives: November 2020

Finite Proves Best In Chilukki; May Head West Next For La Brea

The following appeared in The Paulick Report. VTA Executive Director Debbie Easter is a co-owner of 3-year-old Munnings filly, Finite, who captured a nice Grade 3 stakes win November 21 at Churchill Downs. With the win, Finite’s bankroll stands at $757,869 from 11 career starts. Easter is one-fourth owner of the filly. 

Favored Finite closed into a swift pace, moved into contention around the turn and ran down Sanenus (CHI) near the top of the stretch to comfortably win Saturday’s 35th running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Chilukki Stakes at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., by 2 1/2 lengths at odds of 6-5.

Finite, ridden by Ricardo Santana and trained by Steve Asmussen, clocked one mile over a fast track in 1:35.53 to beat eight other fillies and mares. It was the 3-year-old filly’s fifth stakes win of her career and first against elders.

Risky Mandate led the field in the one-turn mile through swift fractions of :22.75 and :45.59 with Finite tracking in seventh down the backstretch. As she moved into contention circling around the field, Sanenus (CHI), who was sitting just off the pace-setter, grabbed the lead and crossed the six-furlong marker in 1:10.81. But the closing Finite quickly forged an advantage in upper stretch and willingly drew off thereafter.

Finite, co-owned by VTA President Debbie Easter, wins the 35th Chilukki Stakes. Photo by Coady Photography.

“We had a great trip rating behind the pace,” Santana said. “I think at this stage of her career she is just getting better. She’s only 3-years-old and today was her first time against older horses. We went one-turn today but she’s maturing and going to be really nice at longer distances, too.”

Finite banked the $59,520 first prize for owners Winchell Thoroughbreds (Ron Winchell),Thomas J. Reiman, William Dickson and Deborah A. Easter. She rewarded her backers with $4.40, $3.40 and $2.40. Sanenus (CHI), ridden by Rafael Bejarano at odds of 10-1, paid $7 and $3.80. Whoa Nellie was another 1 ¼ lengths back in third at 6-1 under Joe Rocco Jr. and returned $4.20.

Gold Standard, Grand Cru Classe, Risky Mandate, New Roo, Crazy Sexy Munny and Unique Factor completed the order of finish.

Prior to the Chilukki, Finite was the narrow runner-up finisher behind Venetian Harbor in last month’s $200,000 Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland.

Overall, Finite has won six of 11 starts and $757,869. Her previous stakes scores came in the $122,097 Rags to Riches and $300,000 Golden Rod (G2) at Churchill Downs as a 2-year-old and the $148,500 Silverbulletday and $294,000 Rachel Alexandra (G2) earlier this year at Fair Grounds.

Following her fourth-place effort in the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) in March, Finite underwent minor ankle surgery but returned to Asmussen’s stable a few months later.

“She’s a really quality filly,” said Asmussen, who also won the 2007 Chilukki with Rolling Sea. “We had a really nice win last year at Churchill in the Golden Rod (G2) and going one-turn in the Rags to Riches. I think she had five wins in a row at one point last year. It was a disappointing race in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and after that is when this year was sort of turned upside down. We gave her some time off after that race and she didn’t really handle the going in her start at Kentucky Downs. In the Raven Run, she ran really well against some nice fillies that day.”

In an attempt to land a Grade 1 win to her resume, Asmussen plans to send Finite to California’s Santa Anita for a start in the $300,000 La Brea (G1) for 3-year-old fillies over seven furlongs on Dec. 26.

Finite is a chestnut daughter of Munnings out of the Tapit mare Remit and was bred in Kentucky by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Known as the Churchill Downs Distaff from 1996-2004, the Chilukki was renamed in 2005 to honor Stonerside Stable’s graded stakes-winning filly who was trained by Bob Baffert. The daughter of Cherokee Run made four starts at Churchill Downs, all of which were victories. Chilukki won the 2000 edition of this race in what would be her final start with a final time of 1:33.57 – a track record at the time.

Racing at Churchill Downs resumes Sunday with a nine-race program that begins at 1 p.m. ET. The carryover in the Single 6 Jackpot, which covers Races 4-9, is up to $162,270.

Rosie’s Gaming In Dumfries Eyes January Opening

The following appeared in the Prince William Times on 11/17/2020 and was written by Jill Palermo.

Work has begun at the Triangle Shopping Center on the new Rosie’s Gaming Emporium, which is now slated to open in early January, according to its parent company the Colonial Downs Group.

The company is holding a hiring fair today, Tuesday, Nov. 17, and plans to hire more than 100 new employees for the Dumfries site.

The company offers a minimum wage of $15 an hour for all positions. The average salary and benefits package is $42,000 for full-time workers. The job fair is being held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today, Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 3600 Point Center Court in Dumfries.

Those interested in a job at the new Rosie’s Gaming Emporium can also apply online at

The Rosie’s Gaming Emporium in Dumfries will be the fifth Rosie’s location in Virginia and the first to open in Northern Virginia. Dumfries voters approved a ballot referendum in November 2019 to allow historical horse-race betting within the town limits.

The Dumfries location is slated to have 150 historical horse-race betting machines, which resemble slot machines, as well as a restaurant that will serve both food and beverages. The operation was estimated to generate about $55,000 a month in local tax revenue, according to earlier estimates.

The new Rosie’s was initially slated to open by the end of 2019 but was delayed because of safety precautions related to COVID-19, according to Mark Hubbard, a Colonial Downs Group spokesman.

The company’s other four locations temporarily closed in compliance with Gov. Ralph Northam’s COVID-19 shutdowns last spring, but all team members were kept on the payroll “during the duration of the shutdown,” Hubbard said.

Now that Rosie’s has reopened its other locations, all are following COVID-19 mitigation strategies that include mandatory face coverings and temperature screenings for all patrons. Tables have also been rearranged for social distancing, and extra cleaning protocols are in place, according to the company’s website.

Earlier this year, the Virginia General Assembly cleared the way for Rosie’s to open a much larger facility in Dumfries with up to 1,650 betting machines. But the company is currently focused on the Triangle Shopping Center location, which will have 150 machines, Hubbard said.

Online Betting Handle in Virginia Continues to Surge

Online betting handle on horse racing continues to flourish in Virginia as handle figures through the first ten months of 2020 were announced this week. The overall handle through October was $116,030,184 compared with $74,076,781 in 2020, good for an astonishing 56.64% increase.

Top handle producer of the four Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) companies licensed in Virginia was TVG, whose $60,803,794 handle represents a 71.28% gain over last year. In October alone, they accepted $5,796,648 in bets and for the year, TVG is averaging $199,356 in bets per day, highest figure of the four ADWs.

The live simulcast area of Rosie’s New Kent is on the third floor paddock side.

Twinspires was next with $34,006,260, a 31.76% increase over last year’s $25,808,817. Xpressbet experienced a 57.36% boost while accepting $15,612,964 in wagers so far this year compared with $9,921,538 in 2019. NYRAbets, newest of the four online partners, showed a 96.90% increase with a handle of $5,607,165 versus $2,847,688 a year ago.

Over $2.7 million was wagered on horse racing action at Virginia’s seven OTBs — the four at Rosie’s Gaming Centers in New Kent, Vinton, Richmond and Hampton, and the three VA-Horseplay sites in Henrico (Breakers), Chesapeake (Buckets) and Collinsville (The Windmill). Breakers was the top handle producing venue with $617,347 during the month that featured the Preakness Stakes. Buckets was next with $567,883 and the Hampton Rosie’s was third with $411,665.

Buckets Bar & Grill in Chesapeake is one of the three VA-Horseplay OTBs in the state.

November’s handle numbers, still to come, will include the two-day Breeders’ Cup Championships that were held earlier in the month. A number of higher profile races are on tap in the coming weeks including a trio of Grade I stakes on Thanksgiving weekend — the $500,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill November 27, and the $300,000 Hollywood Derby and $300,000 Matriarch Stakes, both at Del Mar November 28 and 29 respectively. On December 5, Aqueduct hosts the Grade I Cigar Mile along with three other graded stakes, the same day Gulfstream hosts the Claiming Crown series.

Key upcoming harness racing events include the $100,000 Potomac Pace at nearby Rosecroft Raceway on Sunday November 15 followed the next week by a big night at The Meadowlands. On November 21, the Big M will give away nearly $3 million in purses between eight championship races — the Fall Final Four and another four Free-For-All events. Dover Downs finishes out the month with the $300,000 Progress Pace (3-Year-Old Open) on November 25.

Virginia-Bred Kenny Had a Notion Trying Open Company In James F. Lewis III Stakes

The following appeared in The Paulick Report and was taken from a MJC press release. 

Louis Ulman and Neil Glasser’s Kenny Had a Notion, having won back-to-back stakes on different surfaces against restricted company, gets his biggest test to date in an attempt to extend his streak to three straight in Saturday’s $100,000 James F. Lewis III at Laurel Park in Laurel, Md.

The ninth running of the Lewis for 2-year-olds co-headlines a nine-race program with the 24th renewal of the $100,000 Smart Halo for 2-year-old fillies, both stakes sprinting six furlongs. First race post time is 12:25 p.m. Eastern.

Kenny Had a Notion will be facing open company in the Lewis for the first time since his July 30 debut at Delaware Park, where he came from off the pace to get up by a head sprinting six furlongs as the favorite in a maiden special weight.

“We’ll see what he’s made of now. There’s no restrictions on this one,” trainer Dale Capuano said. “I think he’ll run his race. If he’s good enough, he should be tough. We’ll see.”

Kenny Had A Notion won the Jamestown Stakes for 2-year-olds at Laurel. Photo by Jim McCue.

Kenny Had a Notion returned to Delaware to run sixth in his stakes debut in the First State Dash, contested over a sloppy track. Back at his home track of Laurel, he rolled past fellow Virginia-breds in the 5 1/2-furlong Jamestown on turf, returning three weeks later to cruise by the same five-length margin in the six-furlong Maryland Million Nursery.

Capuano-trained stablemate Alwaysinahurry, second in the Nursery and nominated to the Lewis, came back to beat winners by a neck in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance Nov. 7 at Laurel.

“After the Maryland Million he’s done so well, and this is the next race for him. So, we’ll see how he does,” Capuano said of Kenny Had a Notion. “I was very impressed with him last time. He showed good speed, he was on the bit the entire race, and when he got through on the inside he just opened up in the stretch. Alwaysinahurry, who he beat and who I still say is a pretty nice horse as well, came back to win the allowance race on Saturday. That just flatters his performance a little bit more, I would think.

“The only time he’s lost so far was that sloppy race at Delaware. He just didn’t it going in that race,” he added. “He was a little bit short and it’s nice to run him at Laurel because that’s where he trains the whole time.”

Alex Cintron, up for his debut, gets a return call from Post 7 in the field of 10. All horses will carry 122 pounds.

Kenny Had a Notion goes for his third straight stakes win November 14 at Laurel. Photo by Jim McCue.

Also entering the Lewis off two straight wins is Lugamo Racing Stable’s eponymous Chitu colt, whose lone career loss came when second behind undefeated Jaxon Traveler in his Sept. 25 unveiling at Pimlico Race Course. Jaxon Traveler is being pointed to the Maryland Juvenile Futurity Dec. 2 at Laurel.

Lugamo romped by six lengths in a seven-furlong maiden special weight Oct. 16 and came back two weeks later with a 4 1/4-length optional claiming allowance triumph going one mile, both at Laurel. Angel Cruz will be back aboard for a third straight time, from Post 9.

“I wasn’t going to run him but the way he’s acting he’s telling me he’s ready to go again. My only concern is the distance,” trainer Rodolfo Sanchez-Salomon said. “That’s the thing. It’s cutting back but you know, he’s going to run his race. He’s putting himself pretty much on the lead on the time without even being asked, so I hope he can do the same thing again.

“He took the last race like a breeze. He’s a happy horse. He’s doing really, really good,” he added. “He came out of it than he did the race before and the first race even better. He’s such an amazing horse. He’s out there galloping and all he wants to do now is buck, wants to rear up, wants to play. He’s very happy. He’s feeling really good.”

Sanchez-Salomon said Lugamo’s attitude has been the perfect complement to his talent as the colt continues to develop.

“He’s a really, really smart horse. He’s pretty quiet in the shedrow but when the rider gets on him and he gets out to the track, he’s a different horse. He transforms himself. All he wants to do is show that he’s the man,” he said. “What really amazes me is when he comes back and is done training, all he wants to do is lay down until it’s time for breakfast. You can lay on his back and sleep next to him and he won’t even move. That’s the sign of a really nice horse, so I hope he stays like that.”

Kenny Had a Notion, in the winners circle after capturing the Jamestown Stakes. Photo by Jim McCue.

Colts Neck Stables homebred Dalton will be making his Laurel debut for trainer Jorge Duarte Jr. after alternating his first four starts between Delaware and Monmouth Park. Last out, the Kantharos chestnut stalked the pace before taking a short lead into the stretch, and wound up second by a nose to Pickin’ Time in the six-furlong Smoke Glacken Oct. 24. Pickin’ Time came back to win the Nashua (G3) Nov. 8 at Aqueduct.

Completing the field are First State Dash winner Singlino; No Cents, a, winner of two straight at Monmouth for Laurel-based trainer Cal Lynch; Ain’t Da Beer Cold, Fearless Fly, Heir Port, Texas Basin and Xtreme Mayhem.

The James F. Lewis III is named for the late longtime horseman who served as first president of Maryland Million Ltd. and past president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. A breeder, owner and trainer, Lewis’ top horses included 1974 Test (G2) winner Maybellene, 1974 Flirtation (G3) winner Heartful and multiple stakes winner Swift Attraction. His daughter, Lisa Lewis, has been training since the early 1990s.


Mid-Atlantic Sees Significant Drop In Racing Fatalities Following Reforms

The following appeared in The Paulick Report November 11 and was provided by Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association
COVID-19 forced Thoroughbred racing into what was for most a two-month hiatus, but the stakeholders in the Mid Atlantic turned the down time into an opportunity to focus on its Strategic Plan to Reduce Equine Fatalities.

Regulators, racetracks, horsemen’s and breeders’ groups representing all seven states in the region – Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia – committed to the Mid-Atlantic Strategic Plan to Reduce Equine Fatalities in 2019. Collectively, they have been working to adopt regulations, protocols and best practices to enhance the safety and integrity of the sport. Their efforts are having an impact. The equine fatality rate in the region has dropped from 1.78 per thousand starts in 2019, to 1.21 per thousand to date this year, a decrease of 33%.

The architects of the Strategic Plan, Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association Chairman Alan Foreman and New York State Equine Medical Director Dr. Scott Palmer, provided a progress report on the efforts of the Mid-Atlantic stakeholders Wednesday.

Colonial Downs’ is one of the is one of the Mid-Atlantic tracks following established protocols.

“It is heartening to see that the commitment and hard work of so many in the Mid Atlantic is bearing fruit,” Foreman said. “We have representatives from every faction of the Thoroughbred industry in the region at the table. Everyone has the chance to be heard and their specific issues considered. We are proud to say that, working together, we have been able to make significant advances on issues of medication reform and horse health.”

Dr. Palmer remarked, “In a climate of polarity and discord, the efforts in the Mid Atlantic serve as a shining example of what we can accomplish when we are united behind the cause of equine safety and welfare.”

Every state in the Mid Atlantic has adopted the following reforms:

  • A prohibition on NSAID “stacking” – the use of more than one NSAID the week of a race
  • Transfer of joint injection records for claimed horses
  • Necropsies on equine fatalities
  • Mortality Review Board
  • Voidable claim rules

Dr. Tim Parkin, a renowned epidemiologist from the University of Glasgow, released the findings of his latest study using data from The Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database in June, noting that those tracks that have instituted a void claim rule in the last 10 years saw a 27% decrease in equine fatalities for those races. The states in the Mid Atlantic have all implemented this additional layer of protection; claims are voidable at the discretion of the claimant if the horse is vanned from the track after the race or is observed to be lame prior to delivery to the new trainer.

Additional reforms have been implemented in all states except West Virginia, including:

  • 48-hour withdrawal time for NSAIDs
  • Enhanced penalties for NSAID overages
  • 14-day withdrawal for joint injections

The West Virginia Racing Commission considered legislation to adopt the new guidelines for NSAIDs and joint injections, but it ultimately was voted down by the Commission.

“We are disappointed that West Virginia remains an outlier in this area,” Foreman said. “Regulatory changes in the state must go through the legislature, which takes time, but we will continue to work with all parties to get this done.”

There is a strict prohibition on the use of bisphosphonates in all horses under the age of four throughout the region, with a total ban in place in Maryland and Pennsylvania. In May, the Mid Atlantic agreed to adopt restrictions on the use of thyroid supplements, now requiring that a horse be diagnosed with hypothyroidism through a thyroid releasing hormone stimulation test; the treatment plan must be reviewed and approved by the equine medical director or chief regulatory veterinarian in the state. In October, the group moved to restrict the use of clenbuterol. The new rule requires regulatory approval for treatment with clenbuterol, mandates that the horse be placed on the Veterinarian’s List, and bars the horse from racing until it tests negative in both blood and urine and completes a satisfactory workout observed by a regulatory veterinarian.

In addition to the regulatory changes, the Mid Atlantic has approved Best Practices in a dozen areas, including:

  • Biosecurity
  • Crisis Management Communication
  • Equine Aftercare
  • Layoff Report
  • Pre-Race Inspections
  • Safety Officer
  • Shock Wave Therapy

Maryland led the charge on the mandatory Layoff Report, a standardized form that provides regulatory veterinarians with vital information for all horses that have not raced for 150 days or more, including the reason for the layoff, medication and joint injection records, and surgical reports. The Layoff Report has been fully implemented in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, and is in process throughout the Mid Atlantic.

The most high-profile of this year’s changes has been the crop rule. The stakeholders in support of the Strategic Plan created a Committee of 24 regulators and stewards to review the many proposals on the table. All interested parties were invited to participate, with the Jockeys’ Guild providing significant input during a series of conference calls. A draft was approved during a presentation to more than 50 representatives of the region’s racetracks, horsemen’s groups and regulatory agencies.

The draft underwent one final review after the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved a rule June 19, and was modified once more to align with provisions in the Kentucky rule. Starting Aug. 1, the rule went into effect in Delaware and Maryland. Pennsylvania followed suit in October. West Virginia has begun the legislative process necessary to adopt it in 2021.

“Uniformity has been a hallmark of the efforts in the Mid Atlantic for more than a decade, going back to the ban on anabolic steroids in 2008,” Foreman said. “Our annual Regulatory meetings have grown year after year, with the focus expanding from medication and testing to include equine welfare and racing integrity. The crop rule is a natural extension of our efforts. We felt it imperative to have a consistent crop rule in every jurisdiction, and we made every effort to ensure that all stakeholders had the chance to weigh in on it.”

A 30-page Strategic Plan Manual, still a work in progress, has been created as a reference for all Mid-Atlantic jurisdictions. There is also a Horsemen’s Guide to the Strategic Plan, providing an overview of the regulations and best practices that impact the day-to-day business of training Thoroughbred racehorses.

A second Guide outlines the Risk Factors that have been identified through Dr. Parkin’s work with the Equine Injury Database and the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, which horsemen can use to assess their stable and modify care and treatment as necessary for horses at increased risk.

“From day one when concept of the Strategic Plan was first under discussion, this has been a collaborative effort, with all of our stakeholders focused on one thing – doing what is right by the horse,” said the Strategic Plan’s Project Manager, Andy Belfiore. “The level of dedication and the amount of time and energy devoted to this initiative from all involved has been remarkable. It has taken a lot of work from the regulators and the state veterinarians, to racetrack’s management teams, to the owners and trainers and jockeys, to get to where we are today.”

As the first phase of the Strategic Plan nears completion, the focus turns to the topics including the racetrack maintenance quality system; jockey health; the transfer of horse health records for all claimed horses; and continuing education.

Dr. Kelly Ryan of MedStar Horsemen’s Health in Maryland worked with HeadCheck Health to develop a system that establishes concussion protocols for jockeys, as well as providing a HIPAA-compliant portal for jockey health information, and a communications network to ensure that all racetracks on the system are notified if there is an accident or injury affecting a jockey’s status to ride. Maryland began a pilot program last fall, and Delaware Park enrolled its riders when racing resumed this spring. Additional jurisdictions are now working with HeadCheck to explore implementation, with the goal of having every Mid-Atlantic racetrack on the network by next year.

The Mid-Atlantic alliance unanimously approved a Continuing Education rule that will go into effect in 2021. Trainers and assistant trainers will have a year to fulfill the requirements, which include four hours annually of CE training, with a minimum of two hours to focus on equine health, safety and welfare. Fulfillment of CE requirements will be a condition of licensing in 2022 for all Mid-Atlantic states. New York already has a CE rule on the books, Maryland has begun the adoption process, West Virginia included it in its legislative package for 2021, and the remaining states have committed to adoption next year.

“New York has been a leader in many areas, including Continuing Education, but the Mid-Atlantic Strategic Plan is not about one jurisdiction calling the shots for the entire region,” Dr. Palmer concluded. “Working together, we have been able to reach consensus. We have right-minded people in the room who want to do the right thing, and we have a track record for getting things done. What we’ve accomplished is amazing, and we look forward to continued progress in the coming year.”

Virginia Horse Racing Economic Impact Study Heads Into Its Final Two Weeks

A big thank you to all the Virginia horse and farm/training center owners who have completed the recent online economic impact survey — the response so far has been great and will go a long way towards providing the most accurate data possible about the horse racing industry in the Commonwealth.
The project, which is being conducted by Chmura Economics & Analytics on behalf of the Virginia Equine Alliance, is heading into its final two weeks. Industry stakeholders who have not yet responded to the survey may receive a call in the next few days from Chmura to gather additional industry information.
The survey goal is to make the final survey as complete as possible. The findings will provide valuable data that can be utilized in many ways including future legislative initiatives.

Virginia’s David Ross Seeks First Breeders’ Cup Win with Extravagant Kid

When Extravagant Kid breaks out of the starting gate in the $1 Million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland this Saturday, it will be the second “Cup” start ever for David Ross, a Virginia businessman and Colonial Downs’ leading all time owner.
To date, Ross’s 7-year-old Kiss the Kid gelding has 14 wins from 45 career starts and lifetime earnings of $902,210. The Florida-bred has won six stakes including the Sunshine Millions Sprint Stakes this past January at Gulfstream and the Da Hoss Stakes at Colonial Downs a year ago during the track’s “Racing Revival” meet. Most recently, Extravagant Kid finished second in a pair of Grade 2 stakes — the Woodford at Keeneland and the Twin Spires Turf Sprint at Churchill.

David and Dana Ross are shown with the Da Hoss trophy courtesy of Extravagant Kid’s 2019 win.

Ross, a Pittsburgh area native, began dabbling in horse ownership through partnerships in 1989 then in 2004, went solo and started racing in Virginia among other states. Ross’s stable has earned over $1.2 million in five different years. In 2007, he ranked 19th in the country by wins and that came in the middle of a seven-year run at Colonial where he was leading owner (2005-2011). From 16 years of individual ownership, Ross’s stable has made 2,302 starts, reached the winners circle 424 times and amassed earnings of $14,301,132. He has won 137 races at Colonial Downs.
A businessman based on Tysons Corner, Virginia, Ross has accumulated nine graded stakes wins with Honorable Duty (New Orleans Handicap, Mineshaft Handicap, Lukas Classic Stakes), Scuba (Marathon Stakes, Greenwood Cup Stakes, Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap), Proforma (Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint), Bye Bye Bernie (Nearctic Stakes) and Perfect Officer (Shakertown Stakes), who went on to finish third in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

Extravagant Kid wins the Da Hoss Stakes at Colonial Downs in 2019. Photo by Coady Photography.

Ross came even closer to winning a Breeders’ Cup race, but his timing was off by two years. The Marathon Stakes, which his Scuba won in 2016 by 4 1/4 lengths, had been an official “Cup” race until 2014 when it was discontinued and renamed the Marathon Stakes. It has been held since as a Breeders’ Cup undercard event. This year, Ross hopes to be back on the under card with his Kentucky-bred Militiaman in the newly named 13-furlong, Grade Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Stakes (formerly the Marathon Stakes). But more importantly, he will be on the “Cup” card too with his versatile turf sprinter.
He feels Extravagant Kid is well suited for almost any variable he could encounter on November 7. “We’re excited about the prospects,” said Ross. “We know he won’t be the favorite but he has an enormously good running style and a strategic ability to be able to stalk the pace or stay a little bit off the pace. He has that burst of energy that can bring him home. In a sprint anything can happen.”
Ross and his trainer Brendan Walsh have opted to use a jockey who hasn’t ridden him in the past. Umberto Rispoli, who up until this year had ridden primarily in Italy, France and Hong Kong, will have the mount. “My trainers, Michael Stidham and Brendan (Walsh), have been talking about him as being perhaps one of the best turf riders out there today,” Ross said. “He has the skill set to be able to make a move with the horse at the perfect time. We are excited to have him ride for us. Having a jockey with great instincts is a big key.”
Ross acquired Extravagant Kid in 2018. “He’s been a great success story. He’s the best chance we’ve ever had to win a Breeders’ Cup race. He could be as good as there is. To win, there are so many variables involved like post position, position early in the race, position in the middle of the race and the ability to get out late in the race,” added Ross. “Another big factor is the track surface. Is there a little give to it, is there a little moisture in it, or is it a firm turf. We’re confident Extravagant Kid can succeed utilizing any racing style and on any type of surface. Brendan has handled him masterfully and has had him ready to go in every race he has performed in.”

Extravagant Kid won for the third time in his last four starts, May 29 this year at Churchill Downs. Photo by Coady Photography.

When Colonial Downs reopened in 2019 after a six-year absence, Extravagant Kid provided a key meet highlight by winning the Da Hoss Stakes. “Every race is important, especially stakes when the level of competition increases, so we could not have been happier to send him to Colonial and spend a few days there,” said Ross. “To see him run so well in the Da Hoss and win convincingly was special. Sheldon (Russell) gave him a perfect trip to get that victory. He recorded one of his best speed figures in that race.”
Ross won the Da Hoss for the second time. His Pass Play reached the winners circle twelve years earlier.
Ironically, Da Hoss himself has special meaning to Virginia racing fans. After winning the first of two Breeders’ Cup Miles in 1996, he took a two-year break. In October, 1998, he prepped for his final “Cup” start in a turf allowance at Colonial and won by less than a length over John’s Call. Four weeks after the New Kent win, the Gone West gelding won his second “Cup Mile” at Churchill, then retired.
Reminiscing this week, Ross could not even dream of being in his current position when he got into the business. “We’ve gone from running in lower level claiming races early on and getting an understanding of how that part of the business works, to breeding and acquiring horses that have an ability to run at higher levels. Our focus has been on the turf and it’s great to see Colonial, which may have the best turf course in the country, back in action and using that great surface again.”

Colonial Downs’ Jill Byrne To Host Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards on Breeders’ Cup Week

Colonial Downs’ VP of Racing Operations Jill Byrne will host the prestigious Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards (TIEA), held virtually this year, on Thursday November 5 at 12 Noon.

Now in its fifth year in the U.S., the ceremony recognizes and rewards outstanding talent, diligence and commitment of the farm and racing stable staff who are at the heart of the sport. Seven different categories are dedicated to acknowledging workers behind the scenes that tend to the horses and others in that aspect of the business.

Jill Byrne with Victor Espinoza, farm manager of Brookdale Farm, and trainer D. Wayne Lukas

Award categories include leadership in breeding and racing, dedication to breeding and racing, and ones that reward service in administration and community along with a newcomer award.
The program is presented by Godolphin USA, a name shared by Shiekh Mohammed’s worldwide racing and breeding operation.

Godolphin won the 2019 Virginia Oaks in New Kent with their horse Carnival Colors, and has been supportive of racing initiatives at Colonial Downs. This past summer, Godolphin’s Embossed competed in a $48,000 allowance optional claimer at Colonial and finished third. Last year, their Desert Spring was sixth in a similar allowance. Michael Stidham trains all three for Godolphin.

Carnival Colors won the 2019 Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs. Photo by Coady Photography.

“This is considered to be one of the most prestigious awards in the industry as it recognizes those workers behind the scenes that take care of the horses, and those who take care of the people who take care of the horses,” said Byrne. “Sheikh Mohammed of Godolphin is extremely generous in his support of behind the scenes people internationally and in the U.S.”

Four sponsoring organizations include the Breeders’ Cup, Jockey Club, National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association (HBPA) and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA).

The awards show is based in Lexington, Kentucky and will be held the day before the Breeders’ Cup World Championships begin at Keeneland. Industry members can check out bios and videos from the finalists in each category, and watch the ceremony live, at