NICK’S PICKS, SATURDAY, JUNE 11TH AT COLONIAL DOWNS

THE TEST OF CHAMPIONS
It’s the rubber match between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, a contrast of styles.  One, Animal Kingdom, can be viscious in the stretch with his leaping, closing strides.  The other, Shackleford, chugs out sustainable quarters with a unrelenting consistency.  Somewhere between this irresistable force and immovable object lies the balance of the Belmont Stakes field.  Nehro, Santiva, Brilliant Speed, Stay Thirsty, Master of Hounds – all rested from their Kentucky Derby outing.   

Look for Shackleford to set the pace, perhaps accompanied by Prime Cut.  Of the previously mentioned colts, all except Stay Thirsty improved their position in the Derby through at least their last 3 points of call.  If its Animal Kingdom or Shackleford, then undoubtedly we will have a clear picture of the three-year old of the year.   But should it one of the others, then it will be fun deciding that distinction over the rest of the year, primarily at Saratoga.

In the race just prior to the Belmont Stakes, 2008 Virginia Derby winner Gio Ponti makes his first start in the United States this year.  Now a six-year old, Gio Ponti always runs a competitive race as his did in Dubai less than three months ago.  Remember, last year in the Manhattan he was upset by Virginia-bred Winchester.

QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Horse Sense is a thing a horse has to keep it from betting on people.” – W.C. Fields

RACING OF YORE VIRGINIA
“However the big horse chooses to dish it out this Saturday, the public expects him to get the job done.  I couldn’t agree more,” ends a column by  Whitney Tower in Sports Illustrated about Secretariat, the horse upon its June 11th cover.   Despite not seeing a Triple Crown winner in generations, Tower had little doubt on the performance he was about to witness.  That “Triple Threat” edition I purchased on eBay several years ago had yet to add the carnation to rose and black-eyed susan on its cover.  Did Big Red ever dish it out-thirty one lengths.  Virginia has bred many quality thoroughbreds since that performance in the Triple Crown since such as Pleasant Colony, Sea Hero, Hansel  and Colonial Affair.  None however, bred in Virginia or anywhere else  have matched the presence and legacy of Secretariat, foaled a half-hour up I-95 from Colonial Downs.   Belmont Stakes day will always be his day.


MAKING RACING HAPPEN…
 …is stakes coordinator, Shane Burke.  On the day where next Saturday’s Colonial Turf Cup nominations are released, Shane is manning the stakes desk as he has since Colonial’s grand opening in 1997.  Shane graduated high school in January of his senior year so he could work in racing.  Once working for D’Wayne Lukas at Los Alamitos, the Washington state native rode thoroughbreds and quarter horses including “Dash for Cash”.   His favorite Richmond restaurant is Havana69 in Shockhoe Bottom.

KNICKERING NICK’S
Exotic Play of the Day
Race 1 at Colonial Downs
$2 DAILY DOUBLE
1,11 with 1,2 7
Costs $12