Virginia-bred River Date won for the third time in four starts this year in a $27,000 claiming race this past Friday at Aqueduct. Unusual? Not at all. Given the margin of victory other Virginia-breds had in their respective mid-November winning efforts, it was quite unusual.
The 4 year old son of Pioneerof the Nile romped to a 10 1/2 length, gate-to-wire victory. Every other Virginia-bred score was of the nail biting variety — either by a nose or a neck.
Bred by Henry Carroll, River Date was claimed out of the race by The Players Group after covering the one mile claiming race in 1:38.17. Original owners, Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Magic Cap Stables, will receive an additional 25% bonus though courtesy of the VTA/HBPA Mid-Atlantic incentive program. The victor has bankrolled $63,100 this year from the quartet of starts.
Awake The Day earned her first win of the year after a handful of runner-up finishes, and did so in upset fashion. The 4 year old daughter of More Than Ready, bred by Sam English and trained by Rob Bailes, was sent off at 42-1 in the $30,000, 5 1/2 furlong claiming sprint. Like River Date, she won in gate to wire fashion but held on by a nose to defeat fast closing Dancing Lucy and nine others. Out of the Not For Love mare, If Not for Lust, Awake The Day paid $87.60 to win and triggered a 1-5-7 trifecta payout of $5,421. Owner Sam English II will receive a 25% bonus for the triumph.
B.A. Messenger, a 4 year old Jump Start gelding making his first lifetime start, won by a neck Saturday at Charles Town. The Hugh McMahon trainee dueled in a match race of sorts through the stretch in the 4 1/2 furlong, $10,000 maiden claimer. After a battle with Street Magician, he crossed in :53.81 and was best of the seven entrants. The victor, out of Smart Kiss by Smart Strike, was bred by Carlos S.E. Moore and Gillian Gordon Moore and is owned by Larry Rabold.
Regal Force and Simmstown continued a string of close mid-November finishes with respective wins last week at Gulfstream and Parx. The former, bred by Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone, beat Zipi Zape by a head in a $15,000, one mile claiming race. Robbie Alvarado Jr. directed the effort in 1:38.98. 5-year-old Regal Force, now 3-for-6 this year, is by Bernstein out of Regal Approach by Thunder Gulch. The latter also was a head to the better in a $20,000 claiming sprint. Bred by the Audley Farm, Simmstown was outrun early but made a big run against ten others exiting the turn. The 8 year old Limehouse gelding, owned by the Ho Dee Boy Stable, has 7 “in the money” finishes in 9 starts this year.
Even several days prior, tight finishes continued to be the norm. My Vixen, owned and bred by Mary Slade, was best by a nose November 13th at Laurel while Money Tree, bred by Morgan’s Ford Farm, was best by a neck in his three horse photo a day prior at Penn National. The former, a 4 year old La Reine’s Terms filly, squeaked by I Dream Of Lois in her $22,000 one mile maiden claimer. She is out of Intriguing Story by Not For Love. The latter, a 6 year old Lawyer Ron gelding, beat Ramsey Branch and Tyzach in his $13,300, 5 1/2 furlong claimer. Money Tree is owned by Jagger Inc.