Grade 3 New Kent County Virginia Derby Attracts 47 Nominations

NEW KENT, Va. (Aug. 21, 2019) — Topped by horses from nationally prominent trainers like multiple Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher, Dale Romans, Graham Motion, Mike Maker, Dallas Stewart, Ian Wilkes and Joe Sharp, the return of the Grade III $250,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby attracted 47 three-year-olds. It’s sister race, the listed $150,000 Fasig-Tipton Virginia Oaks boasts 34 sophomore fillies nominated including those from the barns of Hall of Fame conditioners Shug McGaughey, Kiaran McLaughlin, Kenny McPeek, Brendan Walsh in addition to the Pletcher, Maker and Wilkes.

The New Kent County Virginia Derby and Fasig-Tipton Virginia Oaks headline a stakes laden card of racing on Saturday, August 31 at Colonial Downs  with the first race scheduled for 5 PM ET. Also to be run that evening are the Exacta Systems Rosie’s Stakes and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Kitten’s Joy, each of which carry a purse of $100,000.

Through the investment of the Colonial Downs Group, a subsidiary of Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, Colonial Downs has experienced a “Racing Revival for the 2019 season after a six-year hiatus.  This meeting the track is offering average daily purses of $500,000, which comprises an approximate $7.5 million in total purses allocated for the 15-day racing program.

“I’m really pleased how the nominations for Virginia Derby night stakes came up especially with the track reopeningafter six years,” said Allison DeLuca, Director of Racing and Racing Secretary for Colonial Downs. “We’ve gotten a great deal of support from horsemen from throughout the Mid-Atlantic, the Midwest and Florida.” 

Racing fans around the country can enjoy Derby Day action from Colonial Downs on TVG and via the Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN). Gabby Gaudet will broadcast on site from the New Kent track for TVG on the 30th & 31st.  HRRN will be broadcasting live from Colonial 8- 10 AM on the 31st and on Virginia Derby night. 

New Kent County Virginia Derby

The Elkstone Group’s Social Paranoia is one of two horses Pletcher nominated for the mile and one-eighth turf test. The son of Street Boss was runner-up in the Grade 1 $1 million Belmont Derby on July 6 and more recently ran a solid fourth – beaten only 2 ½ lengths – in the $1 million Saratoga Derby. Pletcher also nominated Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Robert LaPenta and Dixiana Farms’ Current, a graded stakes winner at two when he captured the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland.

Red Giant wins the 2007 Virginia Derby with Horacio Karamanos aboard. Photo courtesy of Coady Photography.

West Point Thoroughbreds and Peacock Stable’s Dabo, winner of the $75,000 Springfield Stakes and the $75,000 Bruce D Memorial at Arlington Park in his last two trips to the post is the more accomplished of the two nominated by Romans, a three-time winner of the Virginia Derby (2004 with Kitten’s Joy; 2010 with Paddy O Prado; and 2012 with Silver Max). 

Several Graded Stakes winners and Graded Stakes-placed horses are among those nominated including Mark Grier’s Eons, who captured the Grade 3 Kent Stakes at Delaware Park for trainer Arnaud Delacour; Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey’s Faraway Kitten, a Mike Maker trainee who won the Grade 3 American Derby at Arlington Park; and Live Oak Plantation’s Global Access, winner of the Grade 3 Marine Stakes at Woodbine. 

New Kent County, the Derby sponsor, has an English history that dates back 400 years. It is the second fastest growing locality in Virginia and is home to four golf courses, three wineries, three rivers and historic landmarks like St. Peter’s Parish Church, known as “The First Church of the First First-Lady.”

Fasig-Tipton Virginia Oaks 

Augustin Stable’s Varenka leads the list of 34 nominees for the mile and one-eighth Oaks. The Graham Motion-trained daughter of Ghostzapper took top honors in the Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga last time out. Motion also nominated the stakes-winning French-bred La Feve, who races for the partnership of Madaket Stables, Robert LaPenta, Lindy Farms and Team Hanley. The daughter of George Vancouver scored a three-quarter length victory in the $100,000 Duchess at Woodbine.

Other stakes-winning fillies nominated for the Oaks include Newtown Anner Stud’s Tasting the Stars, who garnered a tally in the $75,000 Just Jenda at Monmouth Park last out for trainer Mike Stidham, who also has $75,000 Hut Hut Stakes heroine Godolphin’s Classic Fit nominated; and Robert and Lawana Low’s She’sonthewarpath, the Steve Margolis-trained daughter of Declaration of War who was the winner of the $100,000 TaWee Stakes at Indiana Grand in July.

Fasig-Tipton, the Oaks sponsor, conducts three auctions annually in the Midlantic region and has a long history with the Virginia Thoroughbred industry. Overall, the company  operates twelve sales annually in four locations — Lexington (KY), Timonium (MD),  Saratoga Springs (NY) and at Gulfstream Park (FL).

Nominations also closed for a pair of two-year-old stakes on the Derby Day under card. 52 nominated for the Exacta Systems Rosie’s Stakes to be contested at 5 1/2 furlongs while 41 nominated for Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) Kitten’s Joy Stakes which will be run at the 1 1/16-mile distance. 

Graham Motion and Wesley Ward nominated a pair each in the sprint event and Todd Pletcher nominated four in the route stakes. Motion’s include King Of Egypt and Torres Del Paine while Ward’s include Zanno and Four Wheel Drive. Pletcher’s quartet includes Eagerly, Mystic Lancelot, No Word and Summer To Remember. Three horses nominated that have already won as two-year-olds at the current Colonial meet — So Street (Jamie Ness) in the former and Munn Passage (Michael Campbell) along with Virginia-bred Embolden (Michal Stidham) in the latter.   

Rosie’s Stakes sponsor Exacta Systems was founded in 2013 and specializes in fresh, innovative thinking and product development in the exciting new entertainment business known as Historical Horse Racing. The Exacta line of pari-mutuel horse racing game terminals are in use at all Rosie’s Gaming Emporium locations in Virginia. 

The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA), sponsor of the Kitten’s Joy Stakes, will be on site at Colonial Downs on Derby Day conducting “Best Turned Out Awards” in conjunction with the Virginia HBPA for all the stakes races.

A full list of nominations and past performance info is at Derby Day’s card will be drawn on Tuesday August 27th.