Virginia’s Certified Residency program took another big step forward last year, paying out a record $1.77 million in rewards versus $1.35 a year prior despite a Covid-19 pandemic that limited racing opportunities in spring and saw reduced purse levels in some cases.
A total of 486 wins in 2020 came from 328 individual horses, versus respective numbers of 338 and 212 in the prior.
“These are exciting times to do business in Virginia,” said VTA Executive Director Debbie Easter. “This is the most lucrative of the three year-round incentive programs we offer. Despite the issues everyone faced in a challenging year, we still distributed almost $1.8 million in residency awards. And we expect that to grow that to $3.1 million in 2021. Historical horse racing revenues have just started kicking in as well so there is lots of growth still to come. It’s exciting,” she added. “Doing business in Virginia really pays right now.”
The average Certified win award was $3,644. 173 bonuses went to 4-year-old horses, 257 to 3-year-olds and 56 to 2-year-olds. 225 of the 486 wins came in West Virginia, tops among the Mid-Atlantic states. 104 came in Pennsylvania, 87 in Maryland, 36 in New York, 19 in Delaware, 10 in New Jersey and 5 in Virginia, but the 2020 Colonial Downs meet was cancelled after six days to Covid-related issues.
Top owner from bonus monies paid out was Taylor Mountain Farm, with $80,1260. They had six horses earn multiple awards topped by Rush to the Castle with four. The 5-year-old Windsor Castle gelding won four straight allowance races at Charles Town. Their College Kid, with three wins, scored in back-to-back Charles Town allowance races in October while Sweetin Bread had three too including an allowance score. Candyforacause, Hero’s Man and Lufty’s Kisses won two each.
Runner-up John Casey bankrolled $62,658 in bonuses led by Coach Rube, a 4-year-old Windsor Castle filly who had four wins at Charles Town. Three of those came in consecutive allowance events during August and September. Casey’s Love Happy and Take Time each won three while Fancy Castle, Wish in the Castle, and Feisty and Sassy collected a pair.
Four stakes wins by Maryland-bred Street Lute pushed Lucky 7 Stables’ reward total to $46,000, third best among recipients. After breaking her maiden September 7 at Delaware, the 3-year-old Street Magician filly won the Small Wonder Stakes there, then captured the Gin Talking, Sweet Halo and Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship Stakes at Laurel. She was one of four Virginia-certified horses to win five races last year.
Huntertown Farm’s Star of Night was the winningest Certified horse with six, all at Charles Town, which resulted in $43,488 in bonus monies. The 4-year-old Creative Cause filly was 6-for-7 in 2020 and her only blemish was in an allowance race where she lost by a head. She finished the year with three stakes victories in the Sylvia Bishop Memorial, West Virginia Tourism Office Breeders Classic and My Sister Pearl Stakes.
O’Sullivan Farms finished fifth in the bonus standings courtesy of a big year from their 5-year-old Midshipman mare, Dubai Was Lit. The consistent West Virginia-bred, responsible for much of the $41,818 in awards, won a four-pack of allowance races at Charles Town, and finished second in another four.
The rest of the top ten owners, by earnings, includes Larry Johnson ($38,975), Corrales Racing ($26,653), Nancy Heil ($26,237), Javier Contreras ($23,531) and James Wolf ($21,506). Both O’Sullivan Farms and Larry Johnson had other partnerships that produced wins and bonuses on top of their individual totals.
Other Certified horses that won $100,000 stakes, and capped $10,000 awards, include Larry Johnson’s Never Enough Time, who won a pair — the Alma North at Laurel and Skipat at Pimlico. Corrales Racing’s Air Token won five races, highlighted by Laurel’s Concern Stakes. Others at Laurel included Karan’s Notion in the Maryland Million Sprint Handicap for Nancy Heil, and Miss Leslie in the Anne Arundel County Stakes for BB Horses. Eddie F’s Racing’s Chowda captured the Gander Stakes at Aqueduct.
Two others earned a capped award from maiden special weight wins in New York. A One A Racing’s Apurate was best October 22 at Belmont while Woodslane Farm’s Wolfie’s Dynaghost crossed first November 14 at Aqueduct.
Joining Street Lute and Air Token with five wins each were Ronney Brown & John Cefalu’s Bold Valor and Robert Cole’s Sniff. The victories all came at Charles Town except Sniff’s most recent, which was at Mountaineer.
For more details on the lucrative Residency program, visit vabred.org.