An opening day crowd of 2,638 watched eleven races at Colonial Downs Saturday including the feature, the John D. Marsh Stakes won by Elusive Gift (photo – Coady Photography). The $50,000 John D. Marsh Stakes is for Virginia-breds going 5 & ½ furlongs on the turf. Elusive Gift piloted by Horatio Karamanos, (“Special K”) stalked two lengths behind pacestter Tomas who set a quick opening quarter mile fraction in 21& 3/5th seconds. Elusive Gift took the lead shortly before coming out of the turn and generating his own two length lead at the quarter pole. Sheldon Russell aboard Frisky Thunder owned by Crozet’s Braeburn Farm charged after the favored leader closing the margin to a neck at the wire. Elusive Gift is trained by Tony Dutrow and bred by Edward Evans.

The John D. Marsh Stakes is named after a former Virginia Thoroughbred Association president and strong advocate of pari-mutuel racing in Virginia. Marsh also bred Majesty’s Prince at his Virginia farm, and raced him in prestigious turf stakes winning the Man O’War, Sword Dancer and Rothmans International at Woodbine…twice each. If Majesty’s Prince’s earnings that exceeded $2 million dollars in the early eighties weren’t enough, he was also a successful stallion in Kentucky.

In other racing action, Go For Gold won the first race of the meet with Malcolm Frankin aboard for trainer Hubert Cave. Apprentice rider Tadious Simpson shocked handicappers by winning the 2nd and 3rd race with longshots Martins Point (the 2006 Punch Line Stakes winner) and Miss Oil. Miss Oil is owned and bred by Mary T. O’Brien. However, the breeding of Miss Oil was arranged by Dr. Olive Britt (pictured), the veternarian of Secretariat. Three days before her passing in 2006, Britt was given a necklace by an equestrian team engraved with “Miss Oil”, a nickname given to her. O’Brien was wearing the necklace in Colonial’s winner’s circle Saturday afternoon. Britt passed before Miss Oil was foaled and never saw the filly.

Jockey Ryan Fogelsonger reportly suffered a broken collar bone when he was involved in a spill in the fifth race. Whatadance clipped heels turning for home. Fogelsonger left the track in ambulance. Whatadance was reigned on the backstretch of the turf course and led up the gap. It was Fogelsonger’s only mount on the day. As a result of interference on the first turn, Stonestreet Star was disqualified making Father U the winner.

Jockey Luis Garcia won three races in a row beginning in the sixth aboard Quechee, Diamond David and Vamos a Ver. Diamond David is owned by Mechanicsville resident Marshall Dowell and trained by Robbie Bailes. Vamos A Ver’s win was at a mile and a quarter and his Smart Strike breeding could make him a Colonial Turf Cup and/or Virginia Derby nominee.

Sheldon Russell delivered a win on Virginia-bred Complete Zen adding 60% to the winner’s share of the $22,300 purse for Mede Cahaba Stables and trainer Lilith Boucher in the ninth race. In the finale, Eric Coamacho also delivered a Virginia-bred winner aboard Monavista for Audley Farm Stable. Monavista is trained by Ferris Allen.