Mr. Buff Named Top 2019 Virginia-Bred/Sired Older Dirt Male; Awards Announced Daily Through April 7

With the annual Virginia Breeders Awards ceremony and Virginia Gold Cup Races pushed back to the weekend of June 19-20 at Great Meadow, we thought announcing a 2019 award winner each day over 14 consecutive days would be a nice way to bring good news to the Commonwealth’s equine community.

Visit this site often through April 7 — a different award winner will be revealed daily. We’ll also post it to the Virginia Thoroughbred Association’s facebook page, and a recap will appear in upcoming e-mail newsletters.

Today’s (March 30) award winner is — Top Virginia-Bred/Sired Older Dirt Male – Mr. Buff. The 6-year-old Virginia-Sired gelding won five black-type stakes in New York last year which helped cement his status as top contender in this category. The New York-bred is by Friend or Foe, who stands at Smallwood Farm in Crozet. Owned and bred by Chester and Mary Broman, Mr. Buff won the Jazil, Saginaw, Evan Shipman and Alex Robb Stakes along with the Empire Classic Handicap in 2019, all of which took place on the NYRA circuit. He also competed in a pair of Grade I’s — the Clark Stakes at Churchill and the Woodward at Saratoga — and bankrolled $455,750 for the year. The John Kimmel trainee is already 2-for-2 in 2020 and courtesy of a February 22 win in Aqueduct’s Haynesfield Stakes, saw his earnings soar into seven digit range, to $1,051,536. Mr. Buff is out of Speightful Affair by Speightstown.

Mr. Buff started off a successful 2019 campaign by winning the Jazil Stakes. Photo by Elsa Lorieul.

Top 2019 Virginia-Bred Older Turf Mare – Ferdinanda. The 5-year-old Giant’s Causeway mare bankrolled $141,460 last year from a pair of wins and three runner-up finishes in seven starts. Owned by Ann Backer and bred by her late husband’s (William) Revocable Estate, Ferdinanda won the Brookmeade Stakes at Colonial Downs by six lengths in September with Forest Boyce in the irons, and an allowance optional claimer at Gulfstream in April. Her second place finishes were at Saratoga, Belmont and Gulfstream. The Barclay Tagg trainee also competed in the Grade I Flower Bowl Invitational October 6 at Belmont where she was sixth. Overall, Ferdinanda has earned $282,700. She is out of the Came Home mare, My Mammy.

Ferdinanda captured the Brookmeade Stakes at Colonial Downs with jockey Forest Boyce up top. Photo courtesy of Coady Photography.

Top 2019 Virginia-Bred Over Fences – Dapper Dan. The 8-year-old gelding won $45,400 from eight starts in 2019 that included a win, a second and a trio of thirds. Bred by Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone, the son of Pleasantly Perfect captured the fall Steeplethon at Great Meadow during the International Gold Cup card and was runner-up in the spring race’s edition. Dapper Dan collected his thirds at Aiken, Pine Mountain and at the Middleburg Fall Races. The Neil Morris trainee is owned by Donna Rogers and is out of the War Chant mare, Wardrobe.

Dapper Dan navigates the water portion of the $40,000 Steeplethon at Great Meadow Oct. 26. Photo by Richard Clay.

2019 Virginia Owned Horse – Bellafina. The Kentucky-bred filly is owned by Virginia businessman Kaleem Shah who previously won this category in 2015 with Dortmund. Bellafina bankrolled $858,725 last year with a stellar campaign that included a trio of big stakes wins at Santa Anita — the Grade 2 Santa Ynez and Las Virgenes, and the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks. The now 4-year-old Quality Road filly also finished second in a pair of other Grade I events — the La Brea Stakes and Breeders Cup Filly/Mare Sprint. Out of the Malibu Moon mare, Akron Moon, Bellafina has six graded stakes wins overall with earnings of $1,446,725. She was 43rd in earnings last year among all competing horses. Shah co-owns his award winner with Mrs. John Magnier, Michel Tabor and Derrick Smith.

Bellafina won three graded stakes at Santa Anita in 2019. Photo courtesy of Santa Anita.

2019 Virginia Certified Male – So Street. The Maryland-bred gelding made 7 starts in 2019 and earned $158,933 in purse monies. The now 3-year-old son of Street Magician captured an allowance race on the Colonial Downs opening day program in August and sandwiched that between a waiver claiming win at Pimlico in May and a victory in the Howard County Stakes in September at Laurel. The Jamie Ness trainee was bred by Larry Johnson and is owned by Bunnymeade Racing, LLC. So Street is out of the Mr. Greeley mare, So Vain.

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

2019 Virginia Certified Filly – Dyna Passer. The Kentucky-bred filly, owned/bred by Woodslane Farm in The Plains, bankrolled $185,810 last year. As a 3-year-old, Dyna Passer won a maiden special weight at Belmont in May, was fifth in the Grade I Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes in July and finished third in the Jockey Club Oaks Invitational Stakes (black type) in September. The daughter of Lemon Drop Kid also scored a runner up and a trio of third pace finishes. To start 2020, Dyna Passer won an allowance optional claimer at Gulfstream March 22nd.

Dyna Passer had a maiden special weight win at Belmont on May 23. Photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese.