Peter Vegso's homebred Go Between won the 9th running of the $1 million Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) setting a track record of 1:59 3/5 and becoming only the second horse in the history of the 1 1/4-mile turf race to stop the clock in under two minutes.
Florida horseman Vegso and trainer Bill Mott won their third Virginia Derby. They teamed up in 2002 with Orchard Park and in 2003 with Silver Tree to win back-to-back runnings of Colonial's signature event with jockey Edgar Prado aboard. On Saturday, jockey Garrett Gomez had the assignment. Mott, who was not present for the first two wins, made sure he was there for the third.
"I didn't want to miss another one," said Mott after the race. "We started pointing him to this race last year."
Gomez, who rode Go Between to a third-place finish in the Turf Cup, was content on running the same race while sitting third. The race didn't change much for the first mile until Gomez led the Point Given
colt into the two path coming out of the turn and asked him for more run. Go Between responded powerfully.
"The race wasn't much different for him than last time, except this time when I pushed the button he quickened," said Gomez. "Last time, he was a little flat-footed."
As expected, Kip Deville set the pace. Unlike the $1 million Colonial Turf Cup over the same course three weeks ago, his margin on the backstretch was a length, not sixteen lengths.
Establishing fractions of :24 1/5 and :48 flat, jockey Rafael Bejarano's head clock moved much slower aboard Kip Deville than did Quincy Hamilton's three weeks ago. After stalking the pace near the rail after the leader completed six furlongs in 1:12 and the mile in 1:35 1/5, Go Between angled out a bit in upper stretch. He took the lead with a furlong to go and drew away under brisk urging.
Go Between prevailed by 1 3/4 lengths, paying $8.60, 4.20, and $3.40. Seaside Retreat, Patrick Husbands aboard, rallied for place, paying $7.60 and $5.40, with Spider Power and Jose Santos moving up for third, 1 1/4 lengths back, paying $6.40 to show.
Go Between is out of Mediation by Caerleon. He earned $600,000 for his third win and has now banked $852,340. He's never been off the board in nine starts. Go Between's biggest win prior to Saturday came in the 1 1/8-mile Palm Beach (gr. IIIT) on the Gulfstream Park turf March 12.
Vegso owns the company that publishes the "Chicken Soup" series of books.
Spider Power edged Manchu Prince by a head for third, with Proudinsky another head back in fifth. Then came Kip Deville, Roman Dynasty, Yate's Black Cat, Sir Classic Chris, and Readily. Ten 3-year-old colts started for the $1 million purse. Morning line favorite Steppenwolfer and Genre were scratched.
In the race prior, Aunt Henny needed every bit of the Secretariat Turf Course to capture the 3rd running of the $200,000 Virginia Oaks. The Virginia Oaks is for 3-year old fillies going 1 1/8 miles.
After a good start, Festival Queen and Art Show were co-pacesetters running the early quarters in :23 3/5 and 47 flat. Jockey Rafael Bejarano kept Aunt Henny on the rail along the backstretch and then drifted outside coming out of the turn to find room. May Night, with Robby Albarado aboard, ran in the back of the pack and drifted wide for the stretch run, just missing in a head bob at the wire.
As the favorite, Aunt Henny paid $4, $2.60, and $2.40. May Night placed for $4.40 and $3.20. Art Show was third, paying $4.40 to show.
Winning trainer Michael Matz was not in attendance for the Virginia Oaks, instead having entries at Delaware Park and watching over Barbaro at the New Bolton Center.