Monthly Archives: June 2022

Virginia-Certified Maiden Dream Central Springs 39-1 Surprise In New York Stallion Stakes

The following was written Mary Eddy of NYRA and appeared in The Paulick Report.

Eddie F’s Racing’s Dream Central broke her maiden and scored her first stakes win for trainer Gary Sciacca in Sunday’s $150,000 Cupecoy’s Joy division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series for eligible state-sired sophomore fillies sprinting seven furlongs on the Widener turf at Belmont Park.

The bay Central Banker filly arrived at the Cupecoy’s Joy from an even seventh-place effort in a maiden special weight over the same distance and course on May 30 where she was bumped at the start and forced seven-wide in the turn. After making her first two starts on dirt, she finished third in her second try on the lawn on April 29 sprinting six furlongs.

“I knew she was a decent filly. She was training well,” said Eddie Fazzone, owner of Eddie F’s Racing. “We tried her on the dirt when she first came up, and she hated the dirt. She was doing really well when we brought her back. The maiden race last time, she wasn’t paying attention. She was looking around. The first time on the turf this year she ran a nice third, so we knew she’d love the grass. Seven furlongs I thought would be her best distance, too. I saw the race and said, ‘This is the race right here.’ ”

Sent from post 2 at odds of 39-1, longest odds in the field of 11, Dream Central was allowed to stalk the pace in sixth under patient handling from Jose Lezcano as Royal Dancer and Shinfull vied for the lead through an opening quarter-mile in :22.36 over the firm turf.

Royal Dancer gained the advantage over a retreating Shinfull entering the turn through a half-mile in :45.50 as the Manny Franco-piloted Robyn and Eli swung to an outside path from six lengths back in eighth to begin her run at the leader.

Lezcano got to work aboard Dream Central as Royal Dancer confidently extended her margin to two lengths at the stretch call. Robyn and Eli quickly closed the gap with a strong run down the center of the track as Dream Central found her best stride nearing the sixteenth pole.

Lezcano guided Dream Central between Robyn and Eli and a tiring Royal Dancer to find the wire just in time and stun the field of 11 by a neck in a final time of 1:21.57.

Robyn and Eli secured place honors a half-length ahead of Royal Dancer, who rounded out the trifecta 2 1/4 lengths the better of Howdyoumakeurmoney.

Shigeko, Silken Dollar, Morning Matcha, Galaxina, Shinfull, Liberty Flame and Half Birthday completed the order of finish. Bank On Anna, who was entered for the main track only, was scratched. Shigeko was pulled up after the wire and vanned off.

Lezcano said he had plenty of horse under him even when Franco made the first move at the pacesetter with Robyn and Eli.

“My filly didn’t get out when I needed and then the other horse tried to hold me over there. He [Franco] did his job,” said Lezcano. “But my filly, when I asked her, she really responded and finished the job. She picked it up real good and the other horse was fighting back at the same time.”

Franco said Robyn and Eli gave her best effort.

“My filly ran great. We just got beat,” said Franco. “I tried to do the best I could to take his momentum, but I knew he had horse. I moved and got the jump, but he had horse – he beat me.”

Sciacca, who has seen stakes success with Eddie F’s Racing’s Chowda and Lobsta, credited Fazzone with the idea to run Dream Central in the Cupecoy’s Joy.

“Eddie really wanted to run here,” Sciacca said. “Two months ago, he picked this spot out. He wanted to run here no matter what. We had a couple of bad breaks with her. A couple of times, things didn’t go right. But she got it all together today.”

Fazzone said the Cupecoy’s Joy was on his radar because of the New York-bred and New York-sired programs.

“I love it. It’s great,” Fazzone said. “When I buy the babies, I do the Virginia certified with the New York-bred. It’s the best racing going, the horses are great. The sire stakes here are nice.”

Bred in New York by Fedwell Farms, Dream Central returned $81.50 and earned $82,500 for her winning effort. Her record now stands at 1-0-1 from seven starts and purse earnings of $95,917. Her dam is the Deputy Wild Cat mare Dreamed to Dream.

Preparations Continue for Colonial Downs “More Racing, More Money” Opening Day on July 11

The 2022 thoroughbred racing season at Colonial Downs presented by Woodford Reserve is just around the corner and preparations are underway to make the “More Racing, More Money” 9-week meet in New Kent the best ever. 

An average of $625,000 in purse money — a record amount — will be distributed daily. A $3.5 million stakes schedule is highlighted by the 19th running of the Grade 3, $300,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby on September 6. Owner and trainer bonus incentives are a big highlight of the meet too. Owners will receive the greater of $1,000 or their share of purse money from each race while trainers will receive $300 per horse started. 

The season runs from July 11 – September 7 with racing every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 1:45 PM. Two non-betting steeplechase races will be held every Monday at 12:30 PM before the pari-mutuel card begins. 

Owners of Virginia-Bred and Virginia-Sired horses will earn a 50% bonus on 1st to 4th place finishes in all open races. Developers of Virginia-Certified horses will earn 25% more for wins in open races and Breeders of Virginia-bred horses will earn awards for all wins at Colonial, in addition to any win in North America.   

Opening day features four $125,000 stakes for Virginia-Bred/Sired horses — the Edward P. Evans, Punch Line, M. Tyson Gilpin and Brookmeade — while closing day provides a perfect bookend to the campaign with four $150,000 stakes for Virginia-restricted horses — the Meadow Stable, Camptown, Bert Allen and Nellie Mae Cox — along with the $125,000 Jamestown Stakes for 2-year-old Virginia-bred/sired freshmen.

Virginia Thoroughbred Association (VTA) members can enjoy action every day in the VTA’s Hospitality Sky Suite on the 4th floor (except Derby Day). On race days, VTA members can simply take an elevator to the 4th floor level and present member credentials to receive access to the suite. Light appetizers and beverages will be served, along with the best view in the house.

Three special event day celebrations will be held as well during the meet. The VTA/VAHBPA Opening Day Picnic will be held in the trackside General Admission Tent from 12:30 – 3:30 PM on July 11. A complimentary lunch will be served. A similar closing day luncheon will be held on September 7 — Virginia-Restricted Stakes Day — with a location still to be determined. Finally, a special Legislators Day event will take place on Virginia Derby Day. A $50 admission ticket will provide attendees access to the 4th floor level and a lunch on the track’s biggest day of the season. More details are available at

Stalls are currently being allocated and indications are that all 840 spaces in the barn area will be filled. New stables from Illinois include Larry Rivelli’s (80 horses), Chris Block’s (30 horses) along with outfits from trainers Tony Mitchell and Joel Campbell. Some of the top returning conditioners include Michelle Lovell, Michael Stidham, Phil Schoenthal, Mike Tomlinson and Susan Cooney among others.

Hamilton Smith was leading trainer at the 2021 Colonial Downs meet.

Colonial Downs and the Virginia HBPA will partner in an initiative to support the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA). Since 2019, both parties have pledged $15 per start at the Colonial meet to benefit TAA. A $50,000 check was presented to the TAA between races last September.   

“Colonial Downs is once again proud to support the TAA throughout our 2022 racing season,” said Jill Byrne, Colonial’s VP of Racing Operations. “The care of horses during and after their racing careers is of the upmost importance, and the work the TAA does to ensure that this is accomplished, is extraordinary. We are delighted to have the TAA back at Colonial Downs for Virginia Derby Day.” 

Training on the main track will be available every day but Thursday and turf training will be available on Wednesdays. A condition book is online at   

Fans will again enjoy free parking and free admission every day. Five different giveaway days are scheduled including a Secretariat T-Shirt on opening day and a camouflage hat on MATCH Series Day, August 16.  And for the first time in 21 years, Colonial Downs will race on Labor Day afternoon, giving families a chance to enjoy summer’s last holiday in an affordable and fun atmosphere. 

For bettors, Colonial will lower the takeout rate on its 50-cent Pick 5 wager to just 12% and the bet will offer a carryover provision for the first time. On days when nobody picks all 5 winners, 25% of the net pool will be paid to those who correctly select the most winners while the remaining 75% will be carried over to the following day’s program. Also new this year is a Monday Mid-Atlantic Pick-4 wager during the month of August that will feature two races each at both Colonial and Monmouth. 

VRC Gives Thumbs Up to Churchill Downs’ Acquisition of Colonial Downs


The following appeared at and was written by Nick Hahn.

Churchill Downs, Inc., the host of the first leg of the Triple Crown, collected their first jewel of the approvals it needs to take ownership of Colonial Downs at the June 8 Virginia Racing Commission meeting.

The Commission voted unanimously to approve the proposed Acquisition of Ownership Interest in Colonial, along with other associated properties, from Colonial parent Peninsula Pacific Entertainment to Churchill. The deal remains on schedule to close by the end of the year. Approvals in New York and Iowa are pending.

VRC Vice-Chairman Stuart Siegel presents a proclamation to outgoing VRC Chairman J. Sargeant Reynolds, Jr. at the June 8 VRC meeting.

“This will significantly expand the Churchill’s geographic diversity providing historical racing and entertainment,” Lou Frascogna, Churchill Downs Senior Counsel announced. 

Churchill Downs, which operates 3,000 historical horse racing (HHR) terminals in Kentucky, will add 2687 terminals in Virginia under the sale. Under Virginia law, the total number of terminals can rise to 5200 proportionate to potentially 52 days of live racing.

The agreement, announced in February and first discussed publicly at a commission meeting in April, came together quickly. CDI also operates Twin Spires ADW and 10 casinos that include 11,000 slots machines.

“A whole lot of very promising information comes forth, which we’re encouraged by,” said Stuart Siegel, the VRC vice-chair who led the meeting. “The idea of bringing prep races here and getting more horses from Kentucky, elsewhere, Maryland, Pennsylvania, wherever they may come from, that’s exciting for us.”

Siegel also praised the feature that increases races days along with HHR machines.

“Rather than seeing expense cuts here at the racetrack, we’re looking forward to additional investment in this facility and race days so we can attract the larger crowds and a growing handle,” he said, while also hinting at his preference of shifting race days and post times in future years to enhance live attendance.

Mike Zeigler, Churchill’s Senior Vice-President and General Manager, sought to ease earlier concerns of some Commissioners. Churchill owned and just last year closed Arlington Park near Chicago. It also owned the now-shuttered Calder Race Course in Florida.

Commissioner Reynolds served 12 years on the Virginia Racing Commission.

“Churchill’s properties are active stewards in their community, not just focused to Louisville,” said Zeigler. “If you look to each one of these properties, they are important parts of their community, [and] their team members are actively engaged.”

Jill Byrne, Vice-President of Racing Operations at Colonial Downs, worked for Churchill Downs earlier her career and with the completion of the sale would work for them once again. Charged with managing the upcoming meet, Byrne updated commissioners on the preparations. The backstretch opens June 27, with the first day of live racing set for July July 11.

Being one of the first meets to start after new Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) regulations go into effect, Byrne described the registration process as easy and said that outreach to arriving horsemen has been well underway.

Byrne added that the Colonial will be compliant with its “Project 21,” which raised the age of access to HHR machines from 18 to 21. The new state law that goes into effect July 1, only applies to portions of the facilities where HHR machines are offered.

Byrne reported on additional improvements to the racing surfaces, including the replacement outdated irrigation and expenditures of more than $250,000 since December for the turf course alone.

“All of these are important in how we maintain our track surfaces from the turf course to our mile-and-a-quarter dirt track,” said Byrne who also added a new water truck and tractor to the Colonial fleet.

One challenge to the upcoming meet – one common to businesses everywhere – is staffing, particularly for starters and outriders. The 27-day meet that historically draws large fields offers a minimum of $625,000 a day in purses and spans nine weeks, two weeks longer than in 2021.

“Don’t be surprised if you see me on a tractor out there,” joked Byrne.

Former chairman J. Sargeant Reynolds, on the commission during the closure and reopening of Colonial Downs during his 12-year service, was recognized with a special presentation nearing the conclusion of the meeting. A new chairman was not selected.

Listing of Hay & Feed Vendors for Upcoming Colonial Downs Racing Season

*Southern States in Gloucester (804-693-3411); MGR is Candace -delivers any day; $20 transaction/delivery fee

*Southern States in Richmond (804-747-9315); MGR is Luke; delivers on Monday/Tuesday; $75 transaction/delivery fee

*Twin Oaks Farm (804-815-6331); delivers any day; no transaction/delivery fee

*Hulbert Farm (804-513-9974); Harry is MGR; delivers any day; $2 transaction/delivery fee per bale; larger loads are negotiable

*Ashland Feed Store ( 804-798-8431); Danny is MGR; delivers any day of the week; no delivery fee

*Tractor Supply in Williamsburg (757-565-2786); MGR is Kelly; no delivery; order online and arrange delivery with 3rd party vendor ROADIE.

*CFC Farm & Home Center (540-229-5474); -feed only; will be on site taking on Monday for Tuesday delivery (no charge)

Top 19 Reasons Why Racing at Colonial Downs Is a “Must-Do” Summer Event


The highly anticipated summer thoroughbred racing season at Colonial Downs presented by Woodford Reserve kicks off July 11 and continues through September 7 with racing scheduled every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 1:45 PM. This season has expanded to 9 weeks, from 7 last year, and daily purse monies being offered will help ensure a full barn area, deep fields and great races for fans to enjoy and wager. An impressive slate of stakes races populates the calendar throughout, topped by high profile events like Virginia-Bred/Sired Stakes Day, MATCH Series Day, Virginia-Restricted Stakes Day and of course, New Kent County Virginia Derby Day.

Since 2022 marks the 19th running of the Virginia Derby, here is a list of 19 reasons— in no particular order — of why the 2022 Colonial Downs meet is a must-do event for horsemen and fans alike:

*More Days: 27 race days over 9 big weeks, every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 1:45 PM.

*More Money: Purses of over $600,000 per day; $60,000 Maiden races!

*More Races for Virginia Bred, Sired and Certified horses

                -VA Certified horses earn 25% more for wins in open races

                -VA Bred horses earn 50% more for 1st – 4th place in open races

*$1,000 Owner Award Bonus -all owners receive the greater of $1,000 or their share of purse money from the race

*$300 Trainer Award Bonus – All trainers receive $300 per horse started

*Horsemen’s 4th floor Suite at Colonial Downs – open every day (except Virginia Derby Day 9/6)

*Opening Day (July 11th) – free “We’re happy to be back at Colonial Downs Lunch” for all Horsemen and VTA members Noon – 3:00 PM in the General Admission tent

*New Kent County Virginia Derby Day Lunch (Sept. 6) with Legislators on the Colonial Downs 4th floor- $50 for all VTA members and horsemen

*Closing Day (Sept. 7) – Horsemen Appreciation Day – Free Lunch for VTA members and Horsemen (site TBD)

*Return of the $600,000 Mid Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series on August 16

*Debut of a new 1 ½ miles turf stakes – the $150,000 Colonial Cup on July 25

*Colonial Downs Online Handicapping Challenge – August 16 with 2 seats to the National Handicapping Championship (NHC) AND Breeders Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) up for grabs  

*Ever want to be a hot walker? Free 3-day “Intro to Horse Grooming” class July 6-8 from 9 AM – 12 Noon.

*Daily Pick-5 wager with a low 12% takeout and a carryover!

*New Monday Mid-Atlantic Pick-4 wager featuring two races from Colonial Downs & two from Monmouth

*Colonial Downs presents Labor Day racing for the first time in 21 years — a great family outing opportunity!

*Free Parking & Free General admission EVERY race day!

*19th running of the $300,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby on September 6 with four stakes on the undercard including the Woodford Reserve Virginia Oaks.

*Secretariat T-Shirt Giveaway on opening day!

VTA Member Events at Colonial Downs Summer Season Announced

The highly anticipated “More Racing, More Money” thoroughbred racing season at Colonial Downs is right around the corner! The 9-week meet will run from July 11 thru September 7, with racing every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 1:45 PM. 

General admission and parking are free, but Virginia Thoroughbred Association (VTA) members can enjoy the action in the fourth floor VTA Sky Suite every racing day except Virginia Derby Day (September 6). On race days, VTA members can simply take an elevator to the 4th floor level and present your VTA card/credential at the podium to receive access to the suite. Light appetizers and beverages will be served, along with the best view in the house!

Three special event days will be held as well during the meet, two of which bookend the season — Virginia-Bred/Sired Stakes Day on July 11 (opening day) and Virginia-Restricted Stakes Day on September 7 (closing day). A special Legislators Day event on New Kent County Virginia Derby Day (September 6) will be held as well. Mark your calendar for these big three and keep checking for more details        

Virginia Breeder Jill Gordon-Moore has Witnessed Belmont Stakes History For 50 Years


When horses line up Saturday for the 154th running of the Belmont Stakes, Virginia Thoroughbred owner, breeders and trainer Jill Gordon-Moore will not be in attendance. On 17 occasions in the past 50 years though when a horse was vying for a Triple Crown championship, Moore was at Belmont Park cheering for the contenders and was fortunate enough to witness the last five Triple Crown winners cross the wire in New York.

Jill Gordon-Moore (left) with VTA Executive Director Debbie Easter at the Virginia Breeder’s Awards night in May. Moore’s Boldor was recognized as 2021 Virginia-Bred Sprint Champion.

Moore’s amazing run started with her first in-person Belmont in 1973 when Secretariat broke a 25-year Triple Crown drought and she hasn’t looked back since. She was there to see Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed a year later, then had to wait 37 years to see the next one. American Pharoah scored in 2015 and Justify most recently in 2018. In between, she saw a dozen contenders come up short — California Chrome, Big Brown, Smarty Jones, Funny Cide, War Emblem, Charismatic, Real Quiet, Silver Charm, Sunday Silence, Alysheba, Pleasant Colony and Spectacular Bid. 

Moore, a Past President of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association and former Board member of the Virginia Equine Alliance, grew up in Pennsylvania with five brothers and was always around ponies and horses. She tried a traditional education path but changed gears after just one year of college. “I found out from a friend of mine that you get paid money to ride horses fast at the racetrack,” she joked. “It was no contest from that point.”

Moore’s Boldor wins the 2019 Punch Line Stakes at Colonial Downs. The 6-year-old Munnings gelding won the 2021 Punch Line as well. (Coady Photography)

Moore left school and relocated to Delaware Park in 1969. “From there on, I worked for some incredible people and learned so much. There weren’t many girls around then so that closed a lot opportunities but opened up a lot of other ones.” 

After leaving Delaware, she spent 10 years in New York where she got to work for her mentor, Mack Miller. Moore galloped horses in the morning then performed duties on the front side in operations and marketing and was even hired to produce television pieces on trainers and jockeys for legendary on-air racing personality Harvey Pack. She traveled all over the country with horses during that time too. “I always consider that I went to the University of Belmont Park. That was my higher education after one year in college.”  

After galloping horses for 12 years, she switched gears again. “I decided to hang up my tack before it got hung up for me,” she said. “I saw too many of my friends get hurt. I decided I wanted to work on a farm instead.”

Spending time with Miller got her interested in pedigree and the breeding aspect of the business. “Horses that came through his barn were exceptional and he used to quiz me on their breeding.”

Through a friend of a friend, Moore landed a job in Maryland at Sunset Hill Farm, opened a farm in Pennsylvania after, then was hired by Audley Farm in Berryville, Virginia where she spent seven years.  

“The land was so good in that area that Ned (her husband) and I bought a small farm on the back side of Audley and have been there for 21 years since.”

At times, they have had as many as 20 horses on site but currently are down to 10. “Being so small, we have to do all the work ourselves,” said Moore. “We put in all the sweat equity and that’s how we made the equation work. Ideally, we’d like to phase out even a little more but nothing happens in a hurry.”         

The racing fan in Moore though has led to wonderful Belmont Day memories. Of the five Triple Crown winners she has seen, Moore did not hesitate when asked if one stands out from the others. 

Secretariat shown in the 1973 Belmont Stakes. Photo courtesy of AP.

“Secretariat’s,” she quickly replied. “The whole building vibrated that day. It was the weirdest sensation. After he crossed the finish line, all hell broke loose. It was an atmospheric afternoon. It was a race that just knocked your socks off. It gave you goosebumps and you still feel them years after. I watched that horse gallop a lot and knew he was something special. He was an awesome creature to look at and just had an aura about him.”

Moore was based at Belmont Park until 1982 so her commute to see Seattle Slew’s and Affirmed’s Triple Crown triumphs was non-existent. 

“I worked as an occasional freelancer exercise rider for Billy Turner (Seatle Slew’s trainer) and was good friends with his wife Paula. I sat with her during the race and just remember the smiles on everyone’s faces afterwards. Smiles, smiles and more smiles. I went back to the barn after the race,” she added. “There was just a sense of excitement being around that horse. The next morning, Billy pulled his shoes off and turned him out in the round pen. I have pictures of him with his back feet up above the six-foot pen. He was an intense horse though. You just got that vibe around him.

“Affirmed was intense in a different way,” Moore said, referencing the ’78 champ. “You knew he was going to get it done but he was generally laid back. I remember seeing him stand at the gap one morning while he was waiting for the harrows to pass by. His head was down, his lip was drooping and his eyes were closed. It almost looked like he was asleep.”

Penny Chenery is shown with Secretariat.

Once Moore left New York, she had to plan out road trips to Belmont every time a Triple Crown hopeful was slated for the June renewal. “I figured I better keep my record intact as an excuse to keep going back to New York and visit friends. It was one of those things that became a thing.”

American Pharoah’s Belmont win came after a 37-year gap in Crown champions. “There was such a buildup to that race as everybody knows. I got lucky — I knew a friend who had a box in the front row so I was able to join her. The noise from that race was just amazing. The minute the horses broke from the gate, which was right in front of our seats, people started screaming. And the screaming only got louder and louder for the entire 1-½ miles. That was really exciting. That win took the pressure off. Some people thought there might not be another Triple Crown winner.” 

Three years later, lightning struck again with Justify. “That was just a very, very good horse race,” shared Moore. “A lot of people were happy to see a really good horse run and win, but it didn’t have the intensity of American Pharoah’s race. It was nice though to see what a good horse can do. And I got my lucky seat out front again!”

After 80-1 upset winner Rich Strike won the 2022 Kentucky Derby May 7, Moore called Robin Richards — her traveling companion who also is a past VTA President — and told her to mark down the June 11 Belmont date for a potential road trip to New York. That trip has been rescheduled for 2023.