Dewberry Thoroughbred, LLC’s Princess Theorem met Larry Johnson and RDM Racing Stable’s No Mo Lady at the top of the stretch, battled momentarily then pulled away in the final eighth of a mile to win the $100,000 Van Clief Stakes for Virginia-restricted horses Monday at Colonial Downs.
In two previous turf starts, the 3-year-old Nyquist filly had respective third and fifth-place finishes at Churchill and Fair Grounds but on Monday, the Brendan Walsh trainee completed a comeback at 1 1/16th miles on grass quite nicely. Racing sixth at the quarter and at the half in a nine-horse field, jockey Joe Rocco Jr. assumed he would be closer to the lead at that point, so he had to switch strategies on the fly.
“They went pretty fast early,” he said. “I rode my horse away from the gate and thought I’d be stalking Pletcher’s horse (Apurate). I thought he’d be in front and I’d get a comfortable spot there, but they just went too fast. So I took a little hold and tried to tuck her in. They were pretty bunched up going into the turn and two of the horses to beat were to my inside and right in front of me so I saw that as an opportunity to make an early move, pass a couple dead horses and then be able to go in and tighten it up on the horses to beat. I think that’s what was able to get us to first.”
Tasting the Stars, who was 5-for-7 entering the stakes, was the horse next to Rocco’s and No Mo Lady, with a $233,000 bankroll, was next to him. “Those were two of the three to beat,” he added. “I saw the opportunity to get better position on them before the turn so we didn’t have to go too wide. Brendan gave me a lot of filly to ride. She’s very nice.”
With a 1 3/4 length win, Princess Theorem earned her second victory in six starts overall and pushed her bankroll to $125,382. Ther Brendan Walsh trainee is out of the Street Cry mare, Princess Haya. No Mo Lady finished second and Susan Cooney’s Fionnbharr took third.
Colonial Downs continues its season on Tuesday with a nine-race card beginning at 1:45 PM. The meet continues until September 1 with racing every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 1:45 PM. New Kent County Virginia Derby Day is Tuesday August 31.