VIRGINIA BREEDER WINS VIRGINIA OAKS WITH MARYLAND-BRED

Bill Backer is knowns a good thing when he sees or hears it.

During his 25-year career at the McCann-Erickson advertising agency, the Charleston, S.C., native created some of the most successful ad campaigns in history.

Backer’s musical training figured in Campbell Soup’s “Bring on the Campbell’s, Soup is Good Food,” Coca-Cola’s 1971 hilltop anthem, “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” and Coke’s “It’s the Real Thing” jingle and Miller Lite’s “Taste’s great/less filling celebrity “feud” series that ran for years and put Lite atop a new beer category.

While he lives in Virginia and operates Smitten Farm, near Middleburg, for years he has frequently foaled his mares in Maryland and he, his trainer Ham Smith and his horses are no strangers to the winner’s circle at Colonial Downs.

Backer had previously run homebreds in the big stakes at Colonial earning a nice purse or two, but Saturday had to be the most rewarding when four generations of Backer breeding found its way to that very same winner’s circle after winning the $150,000 Virginia Oaks Gr.III.

Backer’s Maryland-bred Blind Date rallied into contention at the top of the stretch and dueled furiously with Shared Account through the final sixteenth before prevailing by a head.

The victory marked the second straight stakes win on Saturday’s card for jockey Kent Desormeaux and Colonial Downs-based trainer Hamilton Smith, who teamed up to score one race earlier in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes with pacesetter Rockaby Bay.

Blind Date secured her first graded stakes win while covering 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.59 on turf rated as soft. Katara closed well under Alan Garcia to finish third, 2¼ lengths behind Shared Account.

Blind Date began her career with two wins in three starts before winning the restricted Hookedonthefeelin Stakes on April 18 and the Hilltop Stakes on May 15 at Pimlico Race Course in her first two attempts on turf. The Not For Love filly then stepped up to graded stakes company but finished a nonthreatening seventh in the Boiling Springs Stakes (G3) on June 27 at Monmouth Park.

Blind Date, whose career earnings now stand at $195,060, comes from an accomplished female family that Backer has developed since the 1970s.

Blind Date’s dam, Snit (by Fit to Fight), a second-generation stakes-winning Backer homebred, was one of his all-time best runners, winning or placing in eight stakes, including a victory in the Cotillion Handicap Gr.II.

Snit’s earlier foals include multiple stakes winner Sales Tax ($143,756), a 4-yearold daughter of High Yield, and stakes-placed Bitter Lemon ($140,421), a 5-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid.

Following her Oaks win, Backer declared Blind Date to be the “best of the line, by far.”

(Coady Photography)