(NEW KENT, VA — 7/20/2023) — A pair of $150,000 Open Turf Sprint Stakes with respective twelve and ten horse fields will highlight Colonial Downs’ second week of racing on the Saturday July 22 card. The Andy Guest Stakes will feature fillies and mares three-and-up while the Van Clief will showcase males three-and-up. Both will be contested at 5½ furlongs and will be run consecutively as races five and six, kicking off the first two legs of the fifty-cent Late Pick-5 which has a low 12% takeout rate.
M and W Stables’ Train to Artemus is early 2-1 favorite in the Andy Guest Stakes for trainer Kelly Breen. The 5-year-old Tapizar mare is 7-for-10 on turf and has won three of the last five stakes she has competed in. She prevailed most recently in the Goodwood at Monmouth and The Very One at Pimlico and back on February 18, captured the Lightning City Stakes at Tampa. Emisael Jaramillo will ride.
DARRS Inc.’s Rambert is second early pick and will look to take a step forward Saturday after two second place stakes finishes in New Kent — in the 2022 Camptown and 2021 Keswick Stakes. The 4-year-old Declaration of War filly broke her maiden at Colonial last summer and is looking to extend a current two-race win streak from turf scores at Meadowlands and Delaware Park. Trained by Michael Stidham and ridden by Mychel Sanchez, the filly is owned by Colonial’s all-time leader in that category, David Ross.
Larry Johnson’s Can’t Buy Love will get attention courtesy of three recent stakes placed outings. The 5-year-old Twirling Candy mare was runner-up to Train to Artemus in the Goodwood and had respectable thirds in the Floral Park at Aqueduct and Sensible Lady Turf Dash Stakes at Pimlico. With $292,311 in earnings, the Michael Trombetta trainee will be ridden by Horacio Karamanos.
Elizabeth Merryman’s consistent 4-year-old gelding Witty is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the Van Clief. The son of Great Notion has five wins and five runner-up finishes from 14 career starts, good for earnings of $357,460. The McLane Hendriks trainee was second July 1 in the Laurel Dash and in his other most recent stakes outing, took a respectable fifth in the Page McKenney Handicap at Parx. Carol Cedeno will ride Witty from post three.
George Sharp’s Front Run the Fed, winner of the 2022 Van Clief, returns to defend his title and faces a deep field. The 7-year-old Fed Biz horse won by a head last year and since then, has competed in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile and in the Jaipur Stakes at Belmont. The Caio Caramori trainee, with a bankroll of $639,182, also took a respectable fourth last fall in the Grade 2 Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs. David Cabrera will ride the third early favorite Saturday.
A trio of competitors, each with bankrolls of over $650,000, will try to stop the Van Clief champ from repeating. Calumet Farm’s Gear Jockey, second early pick at 4-1, is just $3,029 shy of breaking the $1 million mark in earnings. The 6-year-old Twirling Candy horse has Grade 1 experience with a sixth in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and a tenth in last year’s Jaipur. The George Arnold trainee, who has not competed since November, will have Feargal Lynch in the irons. He sports $996,971 in lifetime earnings.
Golden Kernel Racing Stable’s Yes I Am Free has twelve career victories including back-to-back winning efforts in the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint the last two years. Trainer Laura Cazares’s 7-year-old Uncaptured gelding has been rolling nicely in 2023, finishing either first or second in all five outings. Two of those were close seconds — by a neck in the Mighty Beau Stakes at Ellis Park and by one-half length in the Silks Run Stakes at Gulfstream. Emisael Jaramillo has the mount.
William Branch’s 7-year-old Artie Schiller gelding Carotari brings a wealth of turf experience and success into the Van Clief. Trainer Brian Lynch’s charge has 16 “in-the-money” scores from 22 grass starts and earnings of $524,303. Carotari has faced Yes I Am Free twice recently — in the Silks Run and the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint — and finished one spot behind Cazares’s gelding each time. Colby Hernandez will ride from post 9.
The Colonial Downs summer season continues through September 9 with racing every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 1:30 PM.