By Nick Hahn

A top ten look at three-year olds who have started on the turf in 2011, perhaps with thoughts of the $600,000 Virginia Derby (Grade 2) at Colonial Downs on July 16th.
 Three races at Keeneland this April-only one actually run on the turf-may have an impact over who sees the summer turf at Colonial this July in the Virginia Derby. Air Support won the Transylvania on the turf to begin Keeneland’s meet while Brilliant Speed and Derby Kitten won on the synthetic at Keeneland in the Toyota Bluegrass and Coolmore Lexington respectively. The next major turf stakes is the $200,000 American Turf at Churchill Downs on Friday, May 6th.
  1. KING CONGIE – I’m not willing to pull him off the top rung until he gets beaten on the turf. He was as game as any in the Bluegrass stretch run on synthetic when he finished third. Albertrani is on record that he is considering the turf this summer in either the Virginia Derby or the Secretariat Stakes or both.
  2. AIR SUPPORT –The Smart Strike-sired Transylvania winner bursts onto the scene with a win in the Transylvania Stakes in his first 2011 start. Despite only one recent start, this is Claude McGaughey-Stuart Janney colt has regularly seen some of the toughest competition such as Pluck, Soldat, Adirondack Summer and Great Mills.



  4. BRILLIANT SPEED – Bluegrass winner turned the tables on King Congie in the Bluegrass Stakes after the Hallendale Beach at Gulfstream Park where the stewards reversed the outcome. Thomas Albertrani trains two colts in my top three. He may be the most consistent colt on this list on the turf (or synthetic).
  5. ADIRONDACK SUMMER – Clement’s Thunder Gulch was flying in the Transylvania Stakes and simply ran out of racetrack. He’s nominated for the American Turf at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby weekend.
  6. GREAT MILLS He impressed in the Transylvania despite not winning for the first time in four starts. His Fairgrounds wins were over turf listed as firm, good and yielding. Running the extra furlong in the Transylvania starts but doesn’t end the answer to the distance question.
  7. TWINSPIRED – Michael Maker could be bringing another to Colonial Downs this summer. It’s been over a week since the Bluegrass and this Harlan’s Holiday colt still has yet to fade from the Keeneland rail.
  8. DERBY KITTEN – Nice Lexington win over the weekend may not be enough to put this Kitten’s Joy colt in the Kentucky Derby (24th in earnings) but was enough to be back on this list. The Ramsey’s know the way to Colonial Downs if the Triple Crown doesn’t work out. Showing Up won the Lexington, ran 4th in the Derby and won the Colonial Turf Cup in 2006.
  9. NEWSDAD -The pedigree (Arch out of out Stormtracer by Pulpit) suggests that he may improve later this summer for trainer Bill Mott. He outfinished some quality horses while running 4th in the turf loaded Bluegrass Stakes.
  10. SURREY STAR-The American Turf may be the 13th career start for the LaPuente winner at Santa Anita. This Irish-bred spent his two year old campaign racing in England. 
  11. POWHATAN COUNTY-A bit of a disappointing outcome in the Transylvania for the son of Fusaichi Pegasus who went three wide in the second turn. A quick google search shows that there is only one Powhatan County in the United States, here in Virginia, so the naming background is curious for this colt owned by Richlyn Farms, bred by Farnsworth Stables and trained by George Weaver.