Monthly Archives: June 2021

Maggie Bryant of Middleburg, steeplechase Hall of Fame inductee and conservationist, dies at 92

Maggie Bryant at the 2011 Virginia Gold Cup Races, presenting terrier trophies with Dr. William H. Allison, chairman of the Gold Cup Races, Carole Stadfield (with Angel the terrier) and Julianne Larese, of the awards committee. Photo by Douglas Lees.

Magalen Ohrstrom “Maggie” Bryant’s reach in the thoroughbred world was broad, spanning two continents. At the time of her death on Sunday, June 27, she’d bred or owned winners of more than $5.6 million racing in the U.S. and Europe. Bryant was 92.

As recently as Saturday, Bryant’s homebred Eve’s City carried her two-tone blue silks in the distaff hurdle stake at Iroquois. Bryant homebred Yankee Doodle Boy won at the May 29 Virginia Gold Cup meet.

“Maggie loved her horses,” said longtime family friend and trainer Doug Fout of The Plains. “She was a real gem. She was my mom’s best friend – they’d grown up together in Greenwich,” [Connecticut]. Fout trained Ptarmigan, first for his mother, Eve Prime Fout, and, after Eve’s death in 2007, for Bryant. Ptarmigan was National Steeplechase Association distaff hurdle champion, for Bryant, in 2010.

Maggie Bryant is pictured with Dr. William Allison and Charles Seilheimer at the 2011 Gold Cup. Photo by Douglas Lees.


Bryant received the Francis Thornton Greene Award from the Virginia Steeplechase Association for contributions to the sport in 2003; she was inducted in the VSA Hall of Fame in 2014.

VSA president Will O’Keefe said Bryant was a giant in the sport. “When Maggie Bryant was inducted into the Virginia Steeplechase Hall of Fame in 2014, she joined the pillars of steeplechase in Virginia,” said O’Keefe. “This was a well-deserved recognition for a person who meant so much to the sport in America and overseas. “She and her horses will be missed.”

Bryant was equally well-known in French jump racing. She was the first female owner to win the Grand Steeplechase de Paris, a group 1 jump race at Auteuil, with Milord Thomas in 2015. Bryant repeated the historic victory in 2016 with So French, and again in 2017, also with So French.

Her Want of a Nail was group-placed over fences last weekend at Auteuil.

Sister-in-law Jacqueline Ohrstrom, who was married to Bryant’s brother, George, explained the French link. “George was always very proud of the fact that French was his first language due to their (family) nanny teaching the kids French when they were young,” said Ohrstrom. “Maggie was fluent in French, too, and they were both Francophiles, with a great love of the language and of French racing and bloodlines.”

Bryant had equal success on the flat, her biggest success coming when her V.E. Day won the grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga in 2014.

In addition to her beloved horses, Bryant also maintained a herd of Angus and Hereford cattle and ran a huge hay operation on her 2,400-acre Locust Hill Farm in Middleburg. The Land Trust of Virginia named Bryant Conservationist of the Year in 2011 for being an advocate for wildlife protection and conservation measures around the world. She was chairperson of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a board member of the National Wildlife Foundation and the WILD Foundation, a supporter of Peace Parks Foundation and a member of the American Bird Conservancy’s Advisory Council.

Maggie Bryant distributes prizes to terrier dog race winners at the 2011 Gold Cup. Photo by Douglas Lees.

Bryant was one of the first citizens in Fauquier to place more than 1,000 acres of her property under conservation easement. According to the Land Trust of Virginia, Bryant “consistently helped to preserve the landscapes of western Loudoun and northern Fauquier counties.”

Even though she was a titan of horse racing, at the same time, Bryant was down-to-earth, generous, welcoming and kind, say friends and acquaintances. “She was a sweetheart, a real sweetheart,” said trainer Fout. “She was a sport, a very good rider. She and my parents used to hunt together with Orange County [Hounds]. She loved her horses.”

Friend of the family Peter Arundel remembered Bryant, “She entertained in grand style. I remember a gathering of Olympic athletes at her farm and Maggie was holding court in a stylish red leather jacket.” He added, “And what a godsend to conservation around here.”

“It has been an honor and a huge pleasure to have been involved with Maggie Bryant,” Richard Powell, one of her trainers and horse managers in France, told the Thoroughbred Daily News on Monday. He was a regular visitor to Bryant’s Locust Hill Farm at the race viewing parties, young horse shows and victory celebrations she hosted regularly for friends and family. “She was more than an owner to me, (more like) a close member of my family. She was with me in the good times, but as well in the not good times, when I needed her the most.”

Virginia’s Online Betting Handle Remains Robust Even As Pandemic Restrictions Loosen

Online betting handle on horse racing continues to be robust in Virginia even as pandemic-related restrictions continue to loosen. Simulcast centers inside Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums and at VA-Horseplay OTBs are back to full capacity. Colonial Downs will not encounter capacity limits either at its upcoming thoroughbred racing season in New Kent which begins July 19.

Through the first five months of 2021, total advance deposit wagering (ADW) handle is up almost 28% over the same period in 2020 — $59,050,412 versus $46,179,244. To put the current gains in an even more impressive context, five-month handle in 2019 was $38,133,766.

Colonial Downs will have no attendance or capacity restrictions when the summer race season opens July 19.

For the month of May itself, when both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness were held, total handle generated by TVG, Twinspires, Xpressbet and NYRABets — Virginia’s four ADW partner companies — was $16,699,860, best of any month this year by over $5 million.

TVG led the way again with a May handle of $8,796,557 while the others fell in line per normal. Twinspires processed $5,273,958 in bets followed by Xpressbet with $1,923,463 and NYRABets — newest of the four — with $705,881.

For the five-month period of January through May, TVG is up 26% over 2020 figures while others trend similarly — Twinspires at a 33% gain, Xpressbet at 17% and NYRABets at 36%.

Of the eight brick and mortar simulcast sites in the state, the VA-Horseplay OTB at Buckets Bar & Grill in Chesapeake was tops in May with a $922,472 handle. Breakers Sports Grille in Henrico was next with $685,016 followed by the Rosie’s Hampton location with $511,357. For the year so far,  Buckets has handled $3,532,307.

Bets are accepted on live horse races at Buckets Bar & Grill in Chesapeake.

When adding Historical Horse Racing (HHR) handle at five Rosie’s locations to the mix, wagering numbers exceed the $1.8 billion mark. The Rosie’s site in Richmond led the way with $385,647,892 followed by Hampton ($342,966,301), Colonial Downs in New Kent ($197,127,426), Vinton ($111,264,094) and Dumfries ($70,807,403).

Looking forward, the popular Saratoga and Del Mar meets are on the horizon in addition to the Colonial Downs season, so wagering numbers have a great chance to remain strong. Mark your calendars for stakes like the Belmont Derby Invitational Day (Gr. I) July 10, the Haskell Invitational (Gr. I) at Monmouth July 17, the Coaching Club American Oaks (Gr. I) at Saratoga July 24 and the Alfred Vanderbilt Stakes (Gr. I) & Jim Dandy Stakes (Gr. 2) at Saratoga July 31.

Rick Williams Brings Diverse Racing Experiences To His New Role As Colonial Downs Safety Officer

When Colonial Downs opens its barn area July 5 and kicks off its summer race meet July 19, Rick Williams will begin his new role as Safety Officer and though there isn’t a formal job description that includes his every duty, decades of experience in track operations and regulatory work will certainly come into play.

​The new Mid-Atlantic Strategic Plan to Reduce Equine Fatalities lists 23 items that a Safety Officer is responsible for overseeing. The job is to ensure that all activities and practices involving the training and racing of horses at the track meet required safety standards and regulatory guidelines.

Among them are to monitor daily backside activities and practices in the barn area for compliance with therapeutic and race day medication regulations. Another is to make recommendations to track management and regulators to ensure the welfare of horses and riders and the integrity of racing.

Williams will begin his duties when the New Kent track’s barn area opens July 5.

Williams’ diverse background in the sport made him a natural candidate for the job. Over the years, he has been a groom and jockey agent and has worked front side jobs in photo finish, mutuels, track maintenance and beyond. In the last 15 years of full-time work — he retired in 2012 — he held a regulatory position with both the Ohio and Kentucky Racing Commissions and was involved in the Breed Development Fund of both.

“I learned something at every stop along the way,” said Williams. “In regulatory roles, I served on a lot of committees that addressed rules, safety and medication issues. I really enjoyed that part of it — digging into the rule book and making changes that helped better the game. In Ohio for instance, we came up with a process of reviewing the rule book annually — to take a chapter each year and tear it apart. Of all the things l’ve done, that aspect made me feel best — the process itself of a project I was working on.”

Before accepting his latest position, Williams wanted to make sure safety of the horse was paramount in his role. Once he received that confirmation from Colonial’s VP of Racing Operations, Jill Byrne, he accepted.

“I was familiar with Jill from my time in Kentucky and learned that she is a straight shooter and doesn’t waste time beating around the bush. I learned she cares about horses and has absorbed a good horsemanship approach to many things. The business we are in is about the horses and should start and finish there,” he added. “I think the most important thing is to maintain open communication with management, regulators and horsemen. I hope the horsemen look at me as someone trying to enlighten people on the rules, especially those concerning safety. We want the horsemen to enjoy their time here and there are certain things we need to do to maintain that safety aspect. Each day should operate at the highest level of standards, from the way you treat the animals to the way you treat the public.”

Williams bring a wealth of experience to the Safety Officer position.

“Rick will be another set of eyes, watching horses in the barns, on the track, and reporting to track management with something that may not look up to our standards, the safety and integrity and care of horses and the horsemen that we expect,” said Byrne. “He’ll also work with Dr. Caruthers (VRC Equine Medical Director) in assisting her and her veterinary team as well as the stewards and racing office .”

Since retirement from full time work, Williams has taken part-time jobs here and there at places that interest him, and at places he can work with people he respects. One such person is Colonial Downs’ Director of Racing Allison DeLuca. A 2019 visit with her at the New Kent track led to a placing judge position at the abbreviated 2020 meet and his new position in 2021.

“Allison is a dear friend and I’ve worked with her on and off in Kentucky for about 30 years,” said Williams. “When I first saw the layout of Colonial’s dirt track and turf course, it was interesting to me and impressive to say the least. I always knew of Virginia’s rich foundation of breeding but to see the plant for the first time, it’s just a place that needs to host racing. I’ve been to about every major racetrack in the country and this place is just beautiful.”

Williams grew up in a racing family. His father was born in Oklahoma where he was a third-generation horseman and initially rode at bush tracks in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. He worked his way up to recognized tracks like Oaklawn then moved east and rode at Monmouth and at circuits in Ohio and Florida. In all, he rode for 18 years.

Williams, who turns 68 this year, was born in Long Branch, New Jersey and currently resides in Grove City, Ohio — near the former Beulah Park — his mother’s hometown. Although his grandmother wasn’t a hands-on horse person, she loved horse racing and ran a restaurant in Grove City. “Whenever I went to get lunch at the restaurant after school, she would throw a Daily Racing Form in front of me and tell me to pick out a daily double before I could order food. It was something I had to do to get lunch.”

Even though he has worked some of racing’s premier events like the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Breeders’ Cup, Williams paused when asked if he considers himself to be a fan of the sport.

“All I’ve known from day one is horse racing,” he said. “I do get pumped up at those big events but some of the most memorable races I remember aren’t necessarily Derby or Cup races. It could be an every day race where you simply witness something special. Pat Day’s ride aboard ’92 Derby winner Lil E. Tee in the Jim Beam Stakes at Turfway that year stands out. I remember seeing Ernie Poulos’s Black Tie Affair race in Kentucky. He was just a hard knockin’ handicap horse who was always well placed. I respect the day-to-day things that go on in racing.”

“Horsemen are 24/7,” continued Williams. “There aren’t many jobs in today’s world where you have to be as dedicated to your job as someone who works in horse racing. I have great respect for them and have great respect for the game. I consider myself a horseman, but a horseman who believes in the rule book.”

Leading Colonial Downs Owner David Ross’s Extravagant Kid Thrives In Dubai, Royal Ascot

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

The Horse Racing Nation website provided more details on the race.

Extravagant Kid’s third-place finish in the Group 1 King’s Stand sprint provided America its best result on the first day of Royal Ascot in England.

Trained by Brendan Walsh and ridden by Frankie Dettori, Extravagant Kid (14-1) raced in mid-pack most of the way before closing in on the leaders, finishing two lengths behind late-closing winner Oxted (7-2) and a neck from the long-shot runner-up Arecibo (45-1). The favorite Battaash (7-5) was fourth.

“I thought he ran great,” Walsh told Horse Racing Nation after watching the race on TV in Kentucky. “To go over there and run against those horses and run third like that, you can’t help but be over the moon. He’s a great little horse.”

An 8-year-old gelding owned by David Ross and sired by Kiss the Kid, Extravagant Kid was racing for the first time since he won the March 27 Al Quoz Sprint (G1) on the Dubai World Cup undercard.

Extravagant Kid prevails in the Al Quoz Stakes (Group 1) in Dubai.

“He just shows up every time,” Walsh said. “I couldn’t be happier with him.”

Walsh said Extravagant Kid is entered to race in the July Cup (G1), a six-furlong race July 10 at Newmarket, England.

“We’ll take in today and see how he comes out of it,” Walsh said. “We’ll think about it and go from there.”

Owner David Ross was contacted shortly after the race, on site at Royal Ascot.

“Being at a venue such as Ascot is a remarkable experience in and of itself,” said Ross. “Running in a Group 1 race like Extravagant Kid did today in the King’s Stand (a race that was inaugurated in 1860) is an honor and a privilege. For Extravagant Kid at the age of 8 to finish “in the money” was very special. We were thrilled, to say the least, to see and experience everything in person.

He has proven himself time and time again, and after three days worth (36 hours) of flying to and from Dubai, after winning the Group 1 World Cup Turf Sprint, then over to the UK to finish in the money in the Group 1 King’s Stand (beating some of the world’s best sprinters) has to make him ‘one of a kind’.”

Virginia Racing Commission Chairman D.G. Van Clief To Step Away from His Current Role

Van Clief was invited to be one of nine directors on the new Authority and only one of four to be chosen from the horse racing industry — the other five are independent and will come from the outside the industry. The Authority has been tasked with assembling a body of recommendations related to medication rules, and enforcing those, along with safety protocols and enforcement of those, by next February.

D.G. Van Clief Jr. reads from a proclamation he received at the VRC meeting June 14.

Van Clief received special recognition from long time VRC Commissioner J. Sargeant Reynolds, Jr., who took over as Chairman beginning with today’s session. This will be Mr. Reynolds’ second stint as Chairman.

“This association (with Virginia horse racing stakeholders) isn’t about to be over,” Van Clief said to the gathering after he received a commemoration plaque for his service. “I’m just going to be leaning on you in a different way moving forward. Part of my job is to represent everyone in this room in my next position.”

“I’m happy I got a chance to come to this meeting and explain to my colleagues in the industry where I was going, why I was going and when I was going,” he added. “Things have been moving fast since I was invited to serve. There’s a lot to do in a short period of time and I’ll probably be calling on you for help and advice.”

Reflecting on his time in Virginia, and especially the challenges the industry faced after Colonial Downs initially closed in 2014, Van Clief referenced the unique Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) business model as the major factor in helping move the industry forward in a quick manner.

“When all four VEA member groups — the VHBPA, VTA, VHHA and Virginia Gold Cup — all coalesced under one not-for-profit umbrella, it gave the industry immediate credibility, political clout, a common will and a common voice. It’s amazing what that allows you to get done and the fast track we’ve been on in Virginia since. We’ve seen rapid growth the last several years and the re-emergence of what I think is going to be one of the nation’s best boutique race meetings this summer at Colonial Downs.”

“I’m honored to have been asked to serve on the VRC and thank my fellow commissioners for the privilege of serving with them,” Van Clief added. “The Executive staff has done an amazing amount of work with a very small staff and provided great leadership in putting its best foot forward. I’m delighted to have been along for the ride and honored to have served my home state.”

Colonial Downs’ 21-Day Thoroughbred Meet Begins July 19; Barn Area Opens July 5

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. Racing will take place every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with first post at 1:45 PM. All Colonial Downs races will be televised on TVG.

This year’s meet has been increased by three days over last year’s scheduled 18-day meeting, which was cut short due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The barn area, expected to be full, will open Monday July 5.

Colonial’s barn area will open on July 5.

Popular horsemen incentive bonus programs 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. The VHBPA is also offering a dirt race trainer bonus in races with a claiming price of $25,000 or less. The bonuses range from $200 for a win to $50 for fourth thru last.

Among the stakes program highlights this year are:

*The July 19 opening-day program will feature four $100,000 stakes on turf that include three Virginia-Restricted — the Bert Allen, Meadow Stable and M. Tyson Gilpin Stakes — and a Virginia Bred/Sired — The Nellie Mae Cox Stakes.

*The Monday, July 26 card will include three open stakes on turf, headlined by the $150,000 Buckland along with two $100,000 races— the Andy Guest for fillies and mares and the Da Hoss for 3-year-olds and up.

*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, Love Sign, Chesapeake and Seeking The Pearl. The 2021 MATCH Series is a cooperative venture between Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the MJC, VHBPA and Colonial Downs.

Early morning training sessions begin two weeks before the live meet begins.

*Virginia Derby Day is slated for Tuesday, Aug. 31, and in addition to the 18th annual renewal of the G3 Virginia Derby, four other grass stakes will be on the card — the $150,000 Virginia Oaks, $150,000 TAA Old Nelson, $100,000 Exacta Systems Rosie’s Stakes and $100,000 Kitten’s Joy.

*Five $100,000 turf stakes for Virginia-Bred/Sired horses are scheduled on closing day. The Jamestown, Camptown, Brookmeade, Edward P. Evans and Punch Line will highlight the Sept. 1 finale. All are black-type events except for the Punch Line.

*Three additional $100,000 Virginia-restricted stakes dot the calendar as well. The Hickory Tree and Keswick Stables Stakes highlight the Aug. 2 program while the Van Clief is a week later on Aug. 9.

Colonial Downs and the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association (VHBPA) will combine forces to make a $30 donation to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) for every horse that starts in a race at the New Kent track this summer. That donation total, from three years of racing (2019-2021), will exceed $100,000. The TAA is also presenting the $150,000 Old Nelson Stakes which is part of the Virginia Derby under card.

Colonial Downs will be able to welcome fans back for the 2021 summer season. Per the Governor’s most recent Covid update, there are no longer crowd size restrictions or social distancing requirements at entertainment venues and sporting events in the Commonwealth. Fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear face coverings in most situations. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available at the New Kent track.

Fans will fill the seats again at the New Kent track after a Covid-pandemic season of spectator-less racing in 2020.

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.

For further meet details, visit, or

American Contingent Arrives For Royal Ascot; Virginia-Owned Extravagant Kid, Maven Eyeing King’s Stand

The following appeared in The Paulick Report June 10.

All 11 American raiders have arrived in Newmarket ahead of their engagements at Royal Ascot next week, with Extravagant Kid and Maven eyeing G1 spoils in the King’s Stand Stakes (16 confirmations) on the opening day, Tuesday June 15.

The duo remain on course for a showdown with Europe’s leading five-furlong sprinter Battaash (Charlie Hills), an easy winner of this race 12 months ago after agonising defeats at the hands of Blue Point in 2018 and 2019.

Extravagant Kid (Brendan Walsh) touched down in England yesterday having not been seen out since registering a first G1 success under Ryan Moore in the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan, UAE, on March 27.

Extravagant Kid at Abington Place Stables

Speaking from Newmarket’s Abington Place Stables this morning, James Bredin, racing manager for owner DARRS, Inc., said: “Extravagant Kid is doing great. I flew out to Dubai to saddle him, and he looks the same now as he did then. He is eight years of age now, so he is a great traveler. I think the key to shipping a horse is that you have to keep them eating and drinking – and he has done all that.

“We opted for the King’s Stand Stakes because Ryan [Moore] felt the strong uphill finish over five furlongs would really suit him. It probably plays like a six-furlong race anyway, but if it turns out we have got it wrong, we will blame Ryan!

“Obviously, we are all waiting to see whether Battaash makes it, but I think the King’s Stand looks a pretty open race. I think it would suit us if Battaash turns up as he has one way of going and our horse definitely needs something to aim at.

“Extravagant Kid is a quirky old horse and wasn’t really finishing off his races until recently. He ran a super race at the Breeders’ Cup to finish fourth from the widest draw, when he was never able to save any ground. If you look at Trakus, he ran something like 28 feet further than Glass Slippers and was beaten just over a length.

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

“His owner David Ross claimed him out of a race at Gulfstream three and a half years ago. In America, you put your claim slip in before the race is run, so you don’t really know how things are going to work out. The horse was 20/1 that day and it has turned out to be a very astute claim. Mr Ross is over here now, quarantining in London, and is really looking forward to having his first Royal Ascot runner.”

Maven is one of nine intended runners at the meeting for pioneering US-based trainer Wesley Ward, who has sent out 11 of North America’s 12 Royal Ascot winners. Ward’s first success came courtesy of Strike The Tiger in the 2009 Windsor Castle Stakes.

Ward said: “The horses have settled in really well and I feel I have a strong squad. They have all proven worthy of bringing over, thanks to the performances back home, and now it is just a question of whether they are good enough. They are certainly going to bring their A-game to the table, although whether that is up to the level of their competition, we are going to find out.

“When Maven ran in an allowance race at Keeneland in April, we felt he was a bit short fitness-wise. On the day he bounced out in front and when they came to him, I thought he was going to surrender, but he just took off again. I was delighted and then once I saw the numbers, it inspired me to put him on the team for Royal Ascot. He will have to move forward from that again to be in the mix for the King’s Stand Stakes, but I think he is entitled to do so.”

The King’s Stand Stakes is one of three G1 prizes on the opening day of Royal Ascot alongside the Queen Anne Stakes for older milers and the St James’s Palace Stakes for 3-year-old colts.

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

Palace Pier (John & Thady Gosden) headlines 12 confirmations for the Queen Anne Stakes after a dominant display in last month’s G1 Lockinge Stakes. Those in opposition are set to include G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile victor Order Of Australia (Aidan O’Brien).

QIPCO 2000 Guineas hero Poetic Flare (Jim Bolger) is the star name among 15 confirmations for the St James’s Palace Stakes. The unbeaten Mostahdaf (John & Thady Gosden) and last year’s Chesham Stakes victor Battleground (Aidan O’Brien) also feature.

Ward’s team for the opening day of Royal Ascot also includes imposing filly Kaufymaker, who will line up against the colts in the G2 Coventry Stakes (29 entries) over six furlongs. Gregory Kaufman’s homebred scored by a wide margin on debut in a dirt maiden at Keeneland in April.

The trainer said: “I am really excited by Kaufymaker in the Coventry Stakes. She is bred by a wonderful owner of mine and was raised on my farm in Florida. She is similar to Strike The Tiger in that respect.

“She won on the dirt at Keeneland and then when we worked her on the grass, she took to it like a duck to water. Of all the workers I have had on the grass coming into the meeting, she has risen to the top. That is why I am giving her the biggest assignment. The Coventry Stakes is a race I have been dying to have a real big chance in and I think she is going to give me it. She is the best I have and that is why I am putting her in here.

“She has a big, long stride and I think it is a bit of an advantage at this time of the year to have a filly against the colts. If you look at all the times of the races over the years, especially in the States, the fillies are always faster. The same applies to the breeze-ups for the most part. It is like boys and girls in school – for whatever reason girls mature that little bit faster.”

Ward also issued an update on last year’s joint European Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Campanelle, who goes for a second Royal Ascot success in the G1 Commonwealth Cup on Friday, June 18, plus his six remaining two-year-old contenders.

Ward said: “The goal for Campanelle since the Breeders’ Cup has always been the Commonwealth Cup. We sent her down to Barbara Banke’s farm in Ocala and she was prepared well by Ian Brennan. She was sent back to me and did some eye-opening breezes down in Florida.

“We then moved her back to Keeneland where she looked like she was going to be something but the day before her prep race she must have bruised her heel on a rock. We gave her a little time to get those heels back in order and every work she has done since has shown that she belongs in this race. Frankie worked her last Sunday and was all smiles when he got off her.

“The fact she has not had a prep race is no issue at all for me. My sprinters generally come off the bench fresh and fire first time out. Stayers generally need a run to bring them where you want them, but these sprinters almost run better first time out.

“Everything about this race looks real suitable for her. We know she likes the track and the distance, and even if the bit of rain materializes towards the end of next week, which I saw on the forecast this morning, she won’t mind it.

“In regard to Twilight Gleaming and Ruthin, sometimes you have to readjust because of what you see from them in their workouts once they’re over here. With both horses being owned by Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Stables, you have to go with what you see. To me, Twilight Gleaming might be a shade better, which is why she is going for the Queen Mary Stakes and Ruthin will slot in for the Windsor Castle Stakes alongside Napa Spirit. We are going to use a figure 8 bridle and tongue tie on Ruthin, to help her get some more air, and I think that could make a big difference to her.

“At home, we have been working Lucci and Nakatomi together. Nakatomi was coming out on top, but then they had a workout in Newmarket on the Limekilns and Lucci turned the tables. He just bounced straight through to the front and would not give up the lead. They will both go for the Norfolk Stakes.

“Golden Bell goes for the Albany Stakes. She is actually one I would not mind a bit of dig in the ground for, which is not something you would usually hear me say. The night before she worked at Keeneland, we had quite heavy rain, and she just flew through the ground. With her and Campanelle, I might have to do a little rain dance the night before!”

The remaining American contender is Artos, who will be a first Royal Ascot runner for trainer Rusty Arnold in the G2 Queen Mary Stakes.

Horsemen To Have First Preference For Extra Tables, Boxes & Seats at Colonial Downs Based On Loosening Of Covid Restrictions

The Colonial Downs racing season kicks off in six weeks and there is good news to share based on the Governor’s most recent May 28 loosening of Covid-related restrictions at sporting events, attractions and restaurants.

Reserved box seats are now on sale at


To date, Colonial has been selling seats and tables in the 3rd and 4th floor air-conditioned dining rooms at socially distanced spacing. Same with grandstand seats and box seats. But with the restrictions loosening, all seats and tables that had not been for sale prior to May 28 will now be available! There is one minor difference this year compared to 2019 — box seats will not be serviced by wait staff this year.

By running at 1:45 PM this summer, Colonial Downs hopes to avoid early evening thunderstorms that disrupted racing several times last year.

As a horseman and racing fan, you are seeing this announcement first before it is made public to everyone else. Simply visit and pick out and purchase your seats and tables to events like Opening Day on July 19, MATCH Series Day on August 23, Virginia Derby Day on August 31 and Virginia-Bred Stakes Day on September 1.

Anyone with questions can contact Colonial’s Sales Director, Jodie Munn, at