Madaket Stables LLC’s Wootton Asset rated off the pace before making the winning move turning for home on his way to a ¾-length victory in the Grade III $250,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby presented by Woodford Reserve on Tuesday at Colonial Downs.
Jose Ortiz, Jr. guided the Graham Motion trainee over the mile and an eighth on firm turf in 1:46.79, 32/100 off the course mark set in the Virginia Oaks one race prior. Motion won his second straight Virginia Derby — he scored with English Bee in 2019. The stakes was not held last year.
The race was not without its drama as Fernando De La Cruz, rider of runner-up Slicked Back, lodged a claim of foul alleging interference on the final turn but after examination by the stewards, the result was allowed to stand.
“I knew what I was doing out there. Fernando was running out of horse at the 3/8-pole,” Ortiz said of the foul claim. “He didn’t have enough horse to keep me in there so I just went on. I never made contact with him. If we did it was very slight brush. My trip was great. My position on the backside is where I won the race. I just had a lot of horse. He did his job. The horse moved very smooth on the grass. I really like this turf course.”
Winning trainer Graham Motion added: “Jose was pretty confident (that the result would stand). He just had a lot of horse. He’s a cool horse and he finally got his good ground. He hasn’t done much wrong since he’s been here. He came to this country to run on firm ground which is what he got today.”
Earning his first victory in the United States and his third in nine starts overall, Wootten Asset more than doubled his career earnings to $250,245.
It was another 1¾ lengths back to third-place finisher It Can Be Done, who was followed home by Hidden Enemy, Experienced, Indian Lake, Draft Capital, Doubleoseven, Eye of the Cat and Search for Truth.
Wootton Asset was second choice in the wagering and paid $11.20, $6 and $4. Slicked Back returned $13 and $8.60. It Can Be Done paid $5.60.
FLIPPANT FLIES TO OAKS VICTORY
G. Watts Humphrey, Jr.’s Flippant emerged from behind a wall of horses to find clear running in the stretch to win the Woodford Reserve Virginia Oaks by 1¼ lengths over Invincible Gal. Rafael Bejarano was aboard the Vicki Oliver-trained daughter of Tapit who set a course record 1:46.47 for the mile and an eighth over firm turf.
The win was the second straight stakes score for the 3-year-old filly who captured the Dueling Grounds Oaks Preview Stakes last out at Ellis Park and was her third in seven starts overall.
“The first time I rode her I didn’t know a lot about her,” Bejarano said. “This is the kind of filly that likes to come from behind. She likes to get settled and relax. She has a better turn of foot. I learned my lesson. My strategy was to have her in a good position right behind the speed to make one move from the 3/8 or ½-mile, wherever she was ready. There was a lot of pace in my race which was good. I had to wait a little in the stretch and when I was clear she came flying.”
Invincible Gal rallied five-wide in the lane to move into contention but was overtaken by the winner inside the finial 100 yards.
Jockey Jose Ortiz, Jr., who rode the runner-up, said, “I followed Joe (jockey Rocco who rode third-place finisher Gold For Kitten) and I was in a great spot. He moved and I went on with my filly but the winner came flying. She was much the best. I was on the second the best horse.”
Double Blessed, Line Dancing, Adelaide Miss, Out of Sorts, Zeyaraat, Time for Glory, Por Que No, Funwhileitlasted and Belle Belisa rounded out the line-up.
The Oaks score was worth $90,000 to the connections of Flippant whose bankroll now stands at $205,109. Dispatched as the 2-1 choice in the 12-horse field, she returned $6.60, $3.80 and $2.60. Invincible Gal paid $3.80 and $3.20. Gold for Kitten brought back $5.20 to show.
COLONIAL DOWNS SETS NEW ALL SOURCES HANDLE RECORD ON VIRGINIA DERBY DAY
New Kent County Virginia Derby Day set a new all-source handle record of $4,875,792, bettering the old record of $4,469,223 set on July 19, 2008 – the date of Gio Ponti’s victory in that year’s Virginia Derby.
“I’d like to thank the fans, horsemen and our great staff for tremendous support today,” said Jill Byrne, VP of Racing Operations. “To generate an all- time record handle in just our third year since racing returned to Colonial Downs is quite an accomplishment.”