For the first time ever, a Virginia-bred horse captured the Grade II, $400,000 Commonwealth Derby ironically, in a year the race was held outside of Virginia at Laurel Park in Maryland. The stakes was sponsored by the Virginia Equine Alliance.
One Go All Go, sent off at 35-1, pulled a stunning gate to wire upset in which jockey Ronald Hisby earned his first ever stakes win. The victory also gave trainer Pavel Matejka and McLean, Virginia based breeder Albert Coppola their biggest career victories too. Most of the public’s attention was on Force The Pass, a million dollar earning horse who was sent off as the 2-5 betting choice. The Alan Goldberg trainee was two starts removed from winning the Grade I Belmont Derby.
One Go All Go broke cleanly from post six and led by a two length margin at each respective quarter fraction. He stayed along the rail throughout the 1 1/8 miles turf contest and in deep stretch, faced challenges outside from fast closing runner-up Fundamental, Force The Pass and Great Dancer. The 3 year old Fairbanks colt held on though and crossed in 1:48.35, one full length over Fundamental. The winning bay colt, out of Ashleigh Run, by Marquetry, is owned by the Preston Stables, LLC and Prestonwood Racing, LLC
The winner was making his sixth career start and despite his modest lifetime bankroll of $37,565, came into the Derby fresh off his only appearance in 2015 — an allowance race at Indiana Downs on August 21st where he won but was disqualified. “We were looking to race again in a Indiana stakes race, but the horse ended up needing a little more time between starts so we opted for this,” said trainer Pavel Matejka, a Slovakian native. “The horse had a pair of dirt starts last fall and he just didn’t show the ability on that surface, so we switched him over to grass for the Indiana start.”
Breeder Albert Coppola’s earlier brush with fame came in 1982 when his father’s horse Runaway Groom won the Travers Stakes and in doing so, beat the respective Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont winners that year, all of whom competed in the Travers. “My father purchased him as yearling,” said Coppola, “So he didn’t breed him. That’s what makes today’s win so special. It’s very surprising and gratifying to know we bred the winner of the Commonwealth Derby.”
Coppola’s Drumlanrig farm is in Upperville and is part of a neighborhood where Scottish named farms prevail. “We’ve had the lineage of that horse on our farm on the mother’s side for three generations now,” added Coppola.
One Go All Go coming down the lane
Jockey, Ronald Hisby enjoys his first stakes win