Monthly Archives: May 2021

David Ross-Owned Extravagant Kid Tunes Up At Keeneland For Upcoming Royal Ascot Trip

The following appeared in The Paulick Report May 23. Virginia businessman David Ross, who races under the stable name DARRS, Inc., is President of the Virginia HBPA and is the winningest owner in the history of Colonial Downs. 

DARRS Inc.’s veteran Extravagant Kid, who last won the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint (G1) Sponsored by Azizi Developments during the March 27 Dubai World Cup card, is preparing to compete at another prestigious international racing event: Royal Ascot in England. The 8-year-old gelding, who has won 15 of 50 starts and earned $1.58 million, is being considered for two races at Royal Ascot: the five-furlong King’s Stand (G1) on June 15 and the six-furlong Diamond Jubilee (G1) on June 19.

Trained by Brendan Walsh, Extravagant Kid on Saturday turned in his third work at Keeneland since his Dubai performance, covering 5 furlongs in 1:02.20 in company with stakes-placed winner Lontano over a fast dirt track.

Clockers caught him in fractions of :11.80, :24, ;36, :49.60 and 1:02.20.

“He worked great. He’s doing good,” Walsh said about Extravagant Kid, who would be the trainer’s first starter at Royal Ascot. “Looks like he came out of the race in Dubai good and got back in good shape.”

Extravagant Kid wins the Grade I Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai. Photo by Coady Photography.

The fact that Extravagant Kid handled the trip to and from Dubai so well gave his connections confidence in sending him to Royal Ascot.

“If it worked out good going to Dubai, why wouldn’t it work out going to England?” Walsh said. “He shows that he’s good enough to take on those kind of horses.”

Walsh said Ryan Moore, who rode Extravagant Kid to his Dubai victory, will ride the gelding at Royal Ascot. Extravagant Kid is to accompany the contingent of horses trained by Wesley Ward on the flight from Indianapolis.

Another Saturday worker at Keeneland for Walsh was Godolphin’s Maxfield, who was clocked in :49.80 for a half-mile in his first work since winning the April 30 Alysheba (G2) Presented by Sentient Jet at Churchill Downs. The 4-year-old son of Street Sense is scheduled to make his next start in the June 26 Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill.

“Maxfield is doing great,” said Walsh, who has around 40 horses stabled at Keeneland. “He worked nice, and we’re back on the go and on to the next spot.”

Virginia’s On Line Wagering Handle On Horse Racing Remains Robust Through April

A total of $42,350,552 in bets was placed by Virginia residents through April via four on line betting licensed providers — TVG, Xpressbet, Twinspires and NYRABets — versus $31,527,629 last year.

Medina Spirit (inside) in deep stretch en route to a Kentucky Derby victory May 1. May’s handle figures should remain strong since the Derby and Preakness are both held then.

TVG led the way with a handle of $23,051,978 compared with $16,744,374 a year prior, good for a 37.7% increase. Twinspires followed with $11,997,896 versus $9,025,538 in 2020, a 33% business bump. Xpressbet handled $5,485,795, a 20% gain over last year’s $4,540,037 while NYRABets, newest of the four, took wagers of $1,814,882 in but had the biggest percent gain over 2020 at 49%. Their four month handle last year was $1,217,678.

The month of April itself was the biggest so far. $11,617,750 was wagered, one million dollars more than bettors played in both January and March.

Interestingly, handle on thoroughbreds through April was up 29% while harness handle was up 90%. Last year at this time, harness racing was still shuttered for the most part during the early stages of Covid so the business increase was not completely unexpected.

Buckets OTB in Chesapeake is one of three VA-Horseplay sites in the Commonwealth.

Through April, over $11 million in live simulcast racing bets were placed at three VA-Horseplay OTBs and at five Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums. The OTB at Buckets Bar & Grill in Chesapeake topped the locations with a handle of $2,609,834. Breakers Sports Grille in Henrico was next with $2,285,666. Tops among the Rosie’s sites was the Hampton location, which handled $1,544,715.

Things should remain positive looking forward since May, when the Kentucky Derby and Preakness are both contested, is traditionally one of the biggest handle-generating months.

Rosie’s sites are mainly comprised of Historical Horse Racing (HHR) terminals and through April, the five sites generated $850,299,551 in handle, led by the Richmond location with $292,518,392. Hampton was next with $265,555,523 followed by Colonial Downs in New Kent with $151,277,496.

The higher HHR handle translates into more money for Virginia’s racing and breeding programs. In March, the Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) received its first revenue sharing contribution of over $1 million from play at Rosie’s. In April, the contribution rose to $1,327,000.

Virginia Well Represented In Preakness Under Card

The action starts at 10:30 AM and Virginia is well represented on the under card. 2019 Virginia Derby winner English Bee will compete in the $250,000 Dinner Party Stakes (Gr. 2) in Race 12 — just before the Preakness — at 5:38 PM. The Graham Motion trainee is making his first start since last October and will be ridden by Joel Rosario. The 5-year-old English Channel horse has 5 wins from 18 starts and $415,630 in purse winnings.

English Bee (inside) Holds off Jais’s Solitude to win the 2019 Virginia Derby. (photo by Coady Photography.)

Virginia-bred Boldor is in the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes. The 5-year-old Munnings gelding is 2-for-4 this year with $143,820 in earnings courtesy of back-to-back wins in the Sam’s Town Stakes at Delta Downs and the King Cotton Stakes at Oaklawn. Bred by Jill Gordon-Moore and Carlos Moore, Boldor is trained by Steve Asmussen and will be ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr.

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.

Another Virginia-bred, Pink Pearl, is in a $52,000 allowance — Race 4 on the card. The 5-year-old daughter of Animal Kingdom is conditioned by Phil Schoenthal and has earned $63,610 from a dozen outings. She was bred by Godolphin and Morgan’s Ford Farm and is out of the Black Tie Affair mare, Pearls.

A trio of Virginia-Certified horses are in as well including So Street, Never Enough Time and War Tocsin.

Maryland-bred So Street has finished first or second in 14 career starts with a bankroll of $211,923. He will face Boldor in the McKay Sprint. Bred by Larry Johnson, the 4-year-old Street Magician gelding was an allowance winner at the 2019 Colonial Downs “Racing Revival” meet. He finished second that same season in the Rosie’s Stakes which was won by Four Wheel Drive, who went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.

So Street wins the Howard County Stakes at Laurel September 28, 2019. Photo courtesy of Jim McCue.

Never Enough Time, another Johnson-bred horse which he also owns, looks to defend her title in the $100,000 Runhappy Skipat Stakes — Race 9 on the program. The 5-year-old Munnings captured the 2020 Skipat in gate-to-wire fashion and is 5-for-12 overall with earnings of $272,393. She is a Mike Trombetta trainee and is out of What Time It Is by Partner’s Hero.

War Tocsin appears in the $150,000 Maryland Sprint Match Series (Gr. 3) — Race 11 on the card. The 5-year-old Violence gelding brings a bankroll of $171,783 into the race and is fresh off an allowance win at Parx on April 14. Bred by Hare Forest Farm of Orange, Virginia, War Tocsin is out of the Aldebaran mare, Being Anna.

May 9 Middleburg Point-to-Point At Glenwood Park Completes Spring Season Slate

Virginia’s Point-to-Point season came to a close May 9  when the last of seven spring meets was contested at Middleburg’s Glenwood Park. A total of 62 horses competed that day in a mix of hurdle, timber and flat races. The season kicked off March 13 at the Airlie Race Course in Warrenton. The Virginia Equine Alliance again sponsored a Starter Rewards incentive program, which provided every Virginia trained or owned horse that competed a $200 per start bonus. In all, $31,000 in awards were given out which represented 155 starters The collection of photos below by Douglas Lees capture the action at Glenwood.


Rider McLane Hendriks leads Better Tapit to victory in the Restricted Maiden Hurdle. The 5-year-old Tapit gelding is out of Betterbetterbetter by Galileo. 

All Out of Aces and rider Parker Hendriks is joined by trainer Neil Morris after winning the Amateur/Novice Rider Hurdle. The 8-year-old Kentucky-bred has bankrolled $125,905 and in 2017, won three straight flat races at Delaware Park.  

Tankerville and rider Courtney Dankanich were best in the Novice Rider Flat. The 5-year-old Kitten’s Joy gelding is trained by Bill Mott.

Elusive, with rider Thomas Garner, turns for home (second from right) en route to victory in the Maiden Flat’s first division. The winner, a 3-year-old Mshawish gelding, is trained by Doug Fout for Beverly Steinman. 

The Monk and rider Felix Astudilla captured the Maiden Flat’s second division. The 5-year-old has made two pari-mutuel starts — both at Presque Isle and the most recent with former Colonial Downs fan favorite Mario Pino in the irons. 

Maiden Hurdle winner Master Gunner (outside) battles with Fashion Line. Eddie Keating rode the victor while Thomas Gunner directed the runner-up. The winning Elizabeth Voss trainee finished a respectable fourth, just 1 1/4 lengths behind, in a maiden special weight last October at the Middleburg Fall Races.   

Middleburg Bowl winner Huyana (#2) prevailed over Flaming Sword (#1). The 6-year-old Kentucky-bred, ridden by Eddie Keating, is a son of Malibu Moon. He has $81,048 in winnings from 27 starts.

Open Flat winner Lord Justice (inside) battles runner-up Petrichor in the Open Flat. The Jack Fisher trainee was ridden by Connor Hankin and has earned $132,653 in purse monies.

Next up in Virginia is the 2021 Gold Cup Races which will be held May 29 and tailgating, in limited numbers, will be available. The event, which normally attracts 60,000-plus fans, will attract between 10,000 – 15,000 fans in socially distanced rail spots around the massive venue. Details are at

Former Virginia Derby Winner English Channel’s Stature As A Leading Sire Grows On Racetrack, If Not In Auction Ring

The following appeared in The Paulick Report May 13 and was written by Frank Mitchell. English Channel, winner of $5.3 million in purse money, started his illustrious stakes career with wins in the 2005 Colonial Turf Cup and Grade 3 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs.   

Is there a less-appreciated upper-tier sire in the country than English Channel?

Channel Cat’s victory in the Grade 1 Man o’ War Stakes was a reminder of the excellence that the stallion imparts to his offspring and that English Channel showed emphatically during his own racing career.

The 19-year-old son of Smart Strike and the Theatrical mare Belva proved himself a hickory racer, winning 13 of 23 starts over four seasons and $5.3 million. At the races, English Channel began his career the right way: winning his debut at 2 at Saratoga.

The horse then proceeded to win four of his first five starts at 3, including the Grade 3 Virginia Derby, and he also placed second in a pair of G1 races, the Secretariat at Arlington and the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont.

English Channel returned to the races at 4 to win a trio of G1 stakes: the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont, and the United Nations at Monmouth Park. Then the horse returned at 5 and did the same thing. And this time, a trio of G1s, the Turf Classic at Belmont and the United Nations, plus the Breeders’ Cup Turf run at Monmouth Park, brought English Channel the Eclipse Award as champion male turf horse.

And a turn at stud.

English Channel-sired Man o’ War winner Channel Cat with John Velazquez up. NYRA Photo.


English Channel’s sire, Smart Strike, could not have been hotter at the time. He was the leading sire in North America, due not only to English Channel but also to Curlin, who was elected champion 3-year-old colt and Horse of the Year in 2007 after G1 victories in the Preakness, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The cachet of a stallion like Smart Strike – himself a son of the great Mr. Prospector – who could sire such good horses brought considerable attention to his sons and then sent them to stud with lordly expectations of success.

Yet, aside from their sire, high racing class, and chestnut coats, two horses could hardly be more different than English Channel and Curlin.

The latter is a brawny beast who left some breeders wondering whether he might not be too massive a specimen to breed on successfully. Time and the proof of elite racing class have disproven those concerns.

The exact opposite concern was held for English Channel, who came to stud looking so racy, lean, and elegant that some breeders wondered if he would produce enough muscle and mass in his stock to make them high-class racehorses.

Time and the test of the racecourse have proven that English Channel can sire those top horses, with 30 graded stakes winners to date, which is more than half of all his 58 stakes winners. They come in a range of sizes, colors, and shapes that has tended to bewilder the commercial market, which values consistency very nearly as much as quality.

A stallion of similar character is the broodmare sire of Channel Cat: Kitten’s Joy. A champion turf racer like English Channel, Kitten’s Joy throws a wild array of physical types, from the lean-bodied sort who remind us of whippets to the hulking powerhouses similar to himself.

Yet both Kitten’s Joy and English Channel are very good sires, especially of turf horses, and in part that is because a turf horse has to have some level of pace to succeed. It is a great gift if the racer possesses a first-rate change of pace like these two champion turf performers, but the ability to get up to the lead and tough it out to the wire is evidence of a grand racing character and a hardy constitution.

Channel Cat possesses these in spades. He relied upon his strengths so effectively that he made the Man o’ War a considerable test of stamina (starting with an opening quarter mile in :22.69) and then refused to be swamped for speed in the final three furlongs, which he ran in :35.85.

In addition to his own genetic contribution to the greatest game, English Channel has succeeded because breeders, especially the owner of Calumet Farm, have believed in the stallion and have supported him with quality mares. For a stallion who does not often get the “sales type” of yearling, this is an essential support system, and the sport is all the richer for it.

Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in Central Kentucky. Check out his Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.

2021 Colonial Downs Race Meeting To Open July 19 With Minimum $500,000 In Average Daily Purses


21-Day Season Features 25 Stakes Races Highlighted by New Kent County G3 Virginia Derby on Aug. 31

A total of 25 stakes races worth more than $2.7 million will be offered at the upcoming seven-week Thoroughbred racing season at Colonial Downs — from July 19 through Sept. 1 — featuring a minimum $500,000 in average daily purses, the Grade 3 $250,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby on Aug. 31, enhanced horsemen incentives, and an expanded racing program for Virginia bred, sired, and certified horses. The 2021 meeting will be scheduled every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with daily first post time at 1:45 p.m. ET. All Colonial Downs races will be televised on TVG.

Colonial Downs welcomes back fans to this year’s 21-day meeting with free admission. This year’s meet has been increased by three days over last year’s scheduled 18-day meeting, which was cut short due the Coronavirus pandemic. Purses at the upcoming meet will start at a minimum of $500,000 per day, with maiden races offered at $50,000.

The 2021 condition book is available online at

The Colonial Downs barn area will open on Monday, July 5. The condition and stakes book, stall applications and all horsemen information are available at

Colonial Downs began racing again in 2019 under new management of Colonial Downs Group. According to a newly released study conducted by Chmura Economics & Analytics, Virginia’s horse racing and breeding industry generated an estimated economic impact of $542.1 million in the Commonwealth in 2019. Industry jobs, racing related expenditures and tax revenue have all risen since the General Assembly passed legalization of Historical Horse Racing machines in 2018, which enabled Colonial Downs to open and fuel the sport’s revitalization.

At the forefront of safety and integrity, Colonial Downs this year became a member of the Mid-Atlantic Strategic Alliance to reduce equine fatalities and supports the federal legislation of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA).

Colonial Downs Renowned Secretariat turf course and 1 ¼ Dirt Track Will Host an Expanded Stakes Schedule

Among the stakes program highlights for this year are:

*The July 19 opening-day program will feature four $100,000 stakes on turf, three Virginia restricted, The Bert Allen (3&up, 1 1/16 miles) The Meadow Stable Stakes (3&up, 5 ½ furlongs) and The M. Tyson Gilpin Stakes (3&Up, Fillies and Mares, 5 ½ furlongs) and the Virginia Bred/Sired The Nellie Mae Cox Stakes (3&up, Fillies and Mares, 1 mile).

*The Monday, July 26 card will include three open stakes on turf, headlined by the $150,000 Buckland Stakes for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles, along with two 5 ½-furlong $100,000 races in the Andy Guest for fillies and mares, and the Da Hoss Stakes for 3-year-olds and up.

Four $100,000 MATCH Series dirt stakes will be held at Colonial on Monday August 23.

*On Monday, Aug. 23, Colonial will host four $100,000 stakes in the Mid-Atlantic Championship Series (MATCH) Series on the dirt track: The Victory Gallop, for 3-year-olds and up, and Love Sign, for fillies and mares, are both at 1 1/16 miles while the Chesapeake, for three-year-olds and Seeking The Pearl, for fillies and mares, are at six and seven furlongs, respectively. The 2021 MATCH Series is a cooperative venture between Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the Maryland Jockey Club, the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and Colonial Downs.

*Virginia Derby Day is slated for Tuesday, Aug. 31, and in addition to the 18th annual renewal of the G3 Virginia Derby that features some of the country’s top trainers, jockeys, and three-year-old turf horses, four other grass stakes will be on the card — the $150,000 Virginia Oaks, listed (3yo fillies, 1 1/8 miles), $150,000 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Old Nelson Stakes (fillies and mares, 1 1/16 miles), $100,000 Exacta Systems Rosie’s Stakes (2yo, 5 ½ furlongs), and $100,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes (2yo, 1 1/16 miles). Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) will broadcast live from Colonial Downs on Virginia Derby Day.

Popular horsemen incentive bonus programs also return this season: All owners who start a horse at Colonial Downs will receive the greater of $1,000 or their share of the purse money from the race. All trainers will receive $300 per horse started. There will also be a $15 donation per starter to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA), which will be matched by the VHBPA.

Informing fans throughout the meeting, Colonial Downs is also extremely proud of this year’s talented broadcast team, led by the ever-popular Jason Beem, who is returning for his third season as the Colonial Downs track announcer. Jessica Paquette will be this year’s paddock host and handicapper, and Merv Huber will continue to provide morning line odds and guest analysis.

Colonial’s barn area and track will be open for training beginning July 5.

“Since we announced our race dates and purse program for the 2021 season, response from horsemen across the country has been extremely positive,” said Jill Byrne, Vice President of Racing Operations at Colonial Downs Group. “Our lucrative daily purse structure, attractive horsemen incentives, two fantastic racing surfaces and a varied stakes program, are key ingredients to launching an exciting and successful race meet for participants.

“We are also very excited that this year’s meet is open again to fans, who can enjoy the thrill of the live racing experience.”

Benefits to Virginia-bred, Sired and Certified Horses

As a sustaining benefit to the Virginia Thoroughbred program, 12 stakes races, worth a combined $1.2 million, will be offered between Virginia-bred, sired, and certified horses.

Six $100,000 turf stakes for Virginia-bred/sired horses are scheduled, including five on the closing- day card. The Jamestown, Camptown, Brookmeade, Edward P. Evans and Punch Line will highlight the Sept. 1 finale in addition to The Nellie Mae Cox, on opening day. All are black-type events except for the Punch Line.

The Virginia restricted $100,000 Hickory Tree for 2-year-olds and $100,000 Keswick Stables sprint stakes highlight the Aug. 2 program, while the Aug. 9 $100,00 Van Clief Stakes (fillies and mares, 1 1/16 miles) will co-headline with the $75,000 Randolph Rouse Steeplechase Stakes that day.

About Colonial Downs: Colonial Downs Group is a proud business operator in Virginia employing more than 1,000 team members paying over $30 million in annual salaries, wages, and benefits. Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums® in Richmond, Hampton, New Kent, Vinton, and Dumfries offer innovative historic horseracing (HHR) gaming technology and full card simulcasting. Colonial Downs racetrack in New Kent County hosts live thoroughbred racing on two nationally renowned surfaces – Secretariat Turf Course, the widest turf course in North America at 180 feet wide and on a 1 ¼-mile dirt track, second in length to only the world-famous Belmont Park. Colonial Downs Group has made a $300 million investment in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The company pays more than $32 million in annual state a

Former Suffolk Downs On-Air Handicapper Jessica Paquette to Handle Same Duties at Colonial Downs

When Colonial Downs begins its third season of thoroughbred racing under the ownership of the Colonial Downs Group on July 19, fans will see a new face on camera who provides selections and insight into each upcoming race from the paddock area.

Jessica Paquette, long time handicapper at Suffolk Downs and most recently Sam Houston, will make her debut in New Kent replacing Merv Huber, who is unable to travel to Colonial Downs this season but will stay on as morning line odds maker.

The 36-year-old Lowell, Massachusetts native is excited to be part of the Colonial Downs team, and the track’s signature racing surface is a big reason why.

Jessica Paquette with What a Trippi. Photo by Polar Square Designs.

“I’ve heard the Secretariat Turf Course is the best grass surface in the country, and it’s my favorite kind of racing. Being able to talk about beautiful pedigrees on a great grass course just lights my soul on fire. Turf is a much more specific surface than dirt. Some horses will love it and some will only take to that specific course.”

Colonial is known for having large fields that compete on grass, but Paquette seems unfazed by the challenge of picking winners for viewers. “I’m a real pedigree nerd,” she said. “With grass races, you can find horses with hidden turf pedigrees that just jump up and surprise you. I’ll provide insights during the paddock show on specific horse flesh I notice. I’m a day-to-day horse person. I’ll be getting a sense of the barns on site and watching patterns. I’ll be familiarizing myself with the trainer colony. I’ll be taking a lot of notes. I think you can stumble across a lot of nice horses that way.”

Growing up, Paquette’s parents did not have a background or interest in horses, so her equine passion began with participation in the ‘Kids to the Cup’ program as a young teenager. She never looked back.

“Once I got involved in ‘Kids to the Cup’ (KTTC) 25 years ago, it changed my life. It put me on the path to get where I am today. I was a nerdy horse crazy kid back then and I just fell in love with racing during that golden era of the ’90’s when Silver Charm and Skip Sway were racing. It just captivated me. Nothing fills me with as much joy as being at a racetrack and being up close,” she added. “No matter what breed, I love watching all horses turn left.”

From KTTC, she started out as a hotwalker at Rockingham Park, then went on to work as a mutuels clerk and followed that with an internship in the publicity department. After those experiences, she landed another internship at Suffolk Downs and never left. Pacquette spent the next 14 years at Suffolk where she rose through the ranks to become Senior VP of Marketing and an on camera personality and handicapper.

Suffolk closed its doors for good in June, 2019 after 84 years in business. Rockingham previously closed in 2016.  Both closures hit Paquette hard.

Jessica Paquette aboard Mr. Meso, who was lent to her to use at Suffolk Downs one day during the on air broadcast. Photo by Jessica Chapel.

“As a fan, I watched Rockingham close and it was heartbreaking. It was the first place I saw a live horse race. At Suffolk, I was helping run the place so mourning the loss of something I Ioved so much was tough but I had to be professional about it. The day still had to go on. Putting on a public face when your heart is being ripped to pieces was challenging. We sent the old girl off the best way we could,” Paquette added. “The last day was a celebration. I watched the last race from the roof by myself. Those are memories I’ll take with me the rest of my life.”

Since Suffolk closed, Paquette served as on camera handicapper for the Sam Houston thoroughbred meet this past winter. In a Covid-pandemic environment, she performed the job remotely, from a studio she set up in her closet. And in March, she became the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s Director of Communications & the Annual Fund. The position allows her to work from home in the Northern Shore of Massachusetts where she owns two Off The Track Thoroughbreds.

What A Trippi, retired now from success in the show ring — which came after collecting 9 wins in 42 starts as a racehorse — occupies some of her home time now along with Puget Sound, who after 84 starts is enjoying time as a “pasture ornament” according to Paquette.

“Those two fill my day every day,” she said. “Aftercare is the most important thing to me. I’m grateful to be in a position to be able to give back professionally. Every good thing in my life has come from horses so giving back means a lot. I think thoroughbreds are the greatest athletes. They can do anything you ask of them, as long as you ask them correctly.” Colonial Downs and the VHBPA contribute $15 each to the TAA for every start during the race  meet.

Paquette will arrive in New Kent on July 15 and go on camera from the paddock around 1:30 PM four days later. “After giving my picks remotely, I can’t wait to see horses again in person.”

Colonial’s season will continue through September 1 with racing every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 1:45 PM. The $250,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby (Gr. 3) highlights meet festivities on Tuesday August 31. Paquette not only gets to provide selections for all races held over the 180-foot wide turf course and 1 1/4 miles dirt track, she gets to work with some of her best friends as well.

“I was in ‘Kids to the Cup’ with Merv Huber when we were horse crazy wild-eyed children and we’ve been friends since. Jason Beem (Colonial track announcer) is one of my best friends. And I’m looking forward to working with Jill Byrne (Colonial VP of Racing) who I have so much respect for. She is a pioneer in racing and an inspiration. I’m just really excited for this opportunity,” she added. “When racing in Suffolk ended in 2019, it was easy to think that your best days are behind you when the thing you love most goes away. Not so any more.”