The $90,000 Virginia Gold Cup headlines a nine-race program with purses totaling over $430,000 on Saturday, May 2nd. The Gold Cup is run at Great Meadow in Fauquier County and will host a mix of five steeplechase races and four flat races.
In response to the success of the flat races held at the Gold Cup course in the fall of 2014, the Race Committee expanded the opportunities for horsemen at the spring meet with an additional race. Like last year, the flat races included a preference for all Virginia-owned, bred or sired horses.
The Race Committee also modified the flat course which will see the horses start under the finish wire in front of the what is excepted to be another large Gold Cup crowd.
The flat races have full fields with 12 in each race with representation from some of the top flat and steeplechase trainers in the country including Jonathan Sheppard and Wesley Ward. Ward brings Jamestown Stakes winner Hooligan, bred by Audley Farm, to compete in the 1 1/4-mile allowance. Sheppard will run Sartorius and Surf’s Up on the flat.
The Equine Alliance is working for all of Virginia’s horsemen to develop new opportunities for your horses. We hope you are able to enjoy a great day at the Gold Cup on Saturday.
Other Virginia-breds will also carry the flag in stakes races across the country. Headlining the weekend of course is Virginia-bred Stellar Wind, bred by Keswick Stables and Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, who is the likely favorite for Friday’s Grade I Kentucky Oaks. The daughter of Curlin recorded her final breeze last Friday, working six furlongs April 24 in 1:12 4/5 for trainer John Sadler.
Stellar Wind romped by 5 1/4-lengths in the 1 1/16-mile Santa Anita Oaks in her most recent start, her second for current connections Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler–the 3-year-old began her career with owner Barbara Houck and trainer Donald Barr in Maryland, where in her second start she broke her maiden over a mile by the better part of 9 lengths. After that December victory, she was sold to her West Coast connections, immediately making good on the purchase with a 2 3/4-length victory in the Grade III Santa Ysabel over 1 1/16 miles.
Sadler believes the longer Oaks distance will be ideal for his charge.
“She really wants more distance,” Sadler told The Bloodhorse after the Santa Anita Oaks. “This horse has a tremendous amount of stamina. It worked well last time. She broke a little slow (in the Santa Ysabel) and settled off kind of a slow pace, and so today, I said, ‘I wouldn’t change anything. Do what you’ve been doing.’”
Also at Churchill, 2014 Virginia-bred Horse of the Year Thank You Marylou will contest the Grade I Humana Distaff on Saturday.
An earner of $437,457 for current connections Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Thank You Marylou last year won the Grade III Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Any Limit Stakes at Gulfstream. She was placed in the Grade I Central Bank Ashland Stakes, the Grade I Draft Kings Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, the Grade I La Brea Stakes and the Grade II Lexus Raven Run Stakes. This traveling filly has carrying the flag for the Old Dominion and for breeders Carter and Wick McNeely across the country in exciting races that included a 6 ½-length victory in the Dogwood. Out of the Menifee mare Menifeeque, Thank You Marylou has by far justified her $47,000 price tag as a yearling, and made good on the promise she showed when winning her debut in the Tippett Stakes at Colonial Downs by the better part of 4 lengths.
Middleburg, the 5-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid bred and owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bert Firestone, will contest the Grade III Fort Marcy Stakes at Belmont on Saturday for trainer Christophe Clement. Middleburg is coming off of a two-race win streak in allowance races at Gulfstream and Belmont. The Fort Marcy will be his stakes debut.
Meanwhile, the 3-year-old Lockport will contest the Parx Derby for current owners John Benson and Diane Day. Bred by Hart Farm, the son of Temple City is a winner of two for trainer Diane Day.