Seven Virginia Certified Horses Usher in New Year with Wins at Aqueduct & Laurel


Congratulations to seven Virginia-Certified horses that welcomed 2022 in with big wins at Laurel and Aqueduct over the 4-day holiday weekend period that ran from December 30 – January 2.

Serenade Soldier and Bustin Bay both scored at Aqueduct. The former, a 3-year-old War Dancer filly bred in New York, was best in a $43,000 maiden claiming race at 6 1/2 furlongs. She won by 3 3/4 lengths after going off at odds of 11-1 with Jose Lezcano in the irons. It was just her second career start. 

Serenade Soldier wins a $43,000 maiden claimer at Aqueduct on New Years Day (Coglianese Photography).

Bustin Bay prevailed for the second straight time and pushed her bankroll over the $160,000 mark with a victory in a $50,000 claiming race. The 4-year-old Bustin Bones filly dominated by 6 1/2 lengths in winning for the 4th time in her last 7 outings. The New York-bred finished six furlongs in 1:11.42.

Gifted Heart is one of five Certified horses that prevailed at Laurel. The 5-year-old Super Ninety Nine mare beat five others in a $36,053 starter optional claimer at 5 1/2 furlongs that pushed her career earnings to an impressive $246,395. The Phil Schoenthal trainee was ridden to victory by Victor Rosales.

Uncaptured Spirit got his first career win December 30 at Laurel (Jim McCue).

Uncaptured Spirit had a dominant $51,000 maiden special weight win in which jockey Carol Cedeno led the 3-year-old Uncaptured colt to a 7 3/4 margin over the runner-up. The Florida-bred, owned by Tag Stables LLC, paid $18.20. 

Lady Zeta also reached the winners circle for the first time in a $47,385 waiver maiden claiming event. The 3-year-old Midshipman filly, in her third career out, was a neck better at the wire after a tight duel in the last half of a 7-furlong race. The Maryland-bred is owned by Nick & Rosemary Trakadas and was ridden by Kevin Gomez. 

John The Bear’s win on New Years Day brought his career earnings to $69,000 (Jim McCue).

John The Bear collected his second career win in a $33,900 starter optional claimer at 6-furlongs. The 4-year-old son of The Factor was the betting choice of six and crossed 1 1/4 lengths the best in 1:11.61. The Kentucky-bred gelding was ridden by Jevian Toledo and is owned by the Euro Stable.

Rounding out the five is Alottahope, who previously finished second in the Maryland Juvenile Stakes and most recently captured a $57,600 allowance on New Years Day. The 3-year-old Editorial gelding won by 3 3/4 lengths and paid a handsome $24.60. Jose Lezcano led the effort up top and crossed the wire after 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.36.

Alottahope has 2 wins and a second from just 3 career starts (Jim McCue).

Owners of these winning horses each receive a 25% bonus on top of purse winnings courtesy of the VTA’s Certified Residency initiative, which rewards horses who are conceived and foaled outside Virginia, then are then raised a minimum of six months at a registered Virginia farm or training center before they begin competing. Program details are at