NICK’S PICKS, COLONIAL TURF CUP, JUNE 18TH

SOMETHING DIFFERENT
It’s an idea that has been around since the Virginia Derby was first run in October of 1998.  It’s going to be hard to justify returning the winner of one of the few Derbys run on turf to Colonial Downs.  When the purse of the Virginia Derby rose from $200,000 to $500,000 in 2002 the year Orchard Park won it, the profile of the its winner also rose. Colonial has needed a turf race for older horses for some time. 
Now in converting one of its “twin turf” races for three-year olds, past competitors have the opportunity to return.  Court Vision, who I wrote about on Wednesday, ran a thrilling race in 2008 against Gio Ponti has returned.  Gio Ponti, the only remaining Virginia Derby winner actively running, ran third last week in Belmont Park’s Manhattan.
In the month leading up to the Turf Cup, two horses that swept Colonial’s twin turf were injured on the racetrack.  Battle of Hastings (’09) in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby weekend and Paddy O’Prado (’10) in the Dixie at Pimlico on Preakness weekend.  All indicators point that they were both pointing to this race.  That’s racing. 
The 8-horse field that will enter the starting gate is challenging to separate with a defined favorite, Smart Bid (2-1) and at least four worthy contenders.  Also, today’s running is tonight’s running as post time is set for 7:55pm.  They will cross the wire about an hour before sunset. 
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I can make a General in five minutes but a good horse is hard to replace.” – Abraham Lincoln
RACING OF YORE VIRGINIA
The Colonial Turf Cup is now open to older horses and no three year olds are in today’s field.  But the list of previous Colonial Turf Cup winners were talented.  In 2005, Todd Pletcher trained English Channel won both the Turf Cup and the Virginia Derby bringing immediate life to the bonus series, “Grand Slam of Grass” Colonial had offered.  Johnny Velasquez rode that winner.  One of my favorite Turf Cup moments was in 2006 when Showing Up prevailed giving Roy and Gretchen Jackson a Saturday afternoon to smile in the midst of dealing with Barbaro’s Preakness injury.  Summer Doldrums won in 2007 by a slender nostril and Sailor’s Cap with Alan Garcia board won one of the soggiest races on record in 2008.  In 2009 Battle of Hastings won by a short nose, the same margin he managed in the Virginia Derby.  Paddy O’Prado impressively swept both races last year. 
MAKING RACING HAPPEN… 
….is Shelby Revere who has been a mutuel teller in the grandstand and lives in King and Queen County.  On a day like Colonial has today, tellers deal with larger crowds and new bettors.  Shelby has been punching tickets at Colonial since the grand opening in 1997.  She likes to read in her downtime and enjoys the Sandpiper Restaurant in Lancaster County, Virginia.  Be sure to thank Shelby and the many other tellers punching your winners today.
KNICKERING NICKS
EXOTIC PLAY OF THE DAY
RACE 6
$.50 PIC 3
ALL with 9 with 1,3,4,6
Costs $22