The $750,000 Virginia Derby (gr. IIIT) attracted 11 starters, including English Channel, the winner of the first leg of the $5-million "Grand Slam of Grass." Jockey John Velazquez returns to ride Todd Pletcher's $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup winner.
Rey de Café with Javier Castellano, Rush Bay with Robby Albarado, Spring House with Gary Stevens, and European Rebel Rebel with Jerry Bailey are among the 10 colts seeking to thwart English Channel's chance of capturing the inaugural Grand Slam.
The remaining legs in the "Grand Slam" series are the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Park, and the $2-million John Deere Breeder's Cup Turf (gr. IT) against older horses. English Channel hasn't been tested in his last three starts, winning all by at least three lengths.
The last three starts for Rey de Café have been much closer. The Kingamambo colt won his last two starts, the $100,000 Hill Prince (gr. IIIT) and the $100,000 Crown Royal American Turf (gr. IIIT) by a nose. Prior to those two starts, George "Rusty" Arnold's colt was caught at the wire to finish a neck behind Chattahoochee War and Guillaume Tell.
Chattahoochee War is one of two colts trained by Bobby Frankel entered in the Virginia Derby, along with Rebel Rebel, who will be making his first U.S. start. Bailey has been named the rider of the Irish-bred, who has been racing in England. Irish-bred Potaro won the Virginia Derby in 2001.
In Rush Bay's two turf starts, he finished second to Rey de Café in the Crown Royal American Turf and won the $100,000 Jefferson Cup (gr. III) in June. Albarado has been named the rider of the Cozzene
Stevens has been named as the rider of Spring House, who crossed the wire second behind Touched By Madness in his last two starts. Spring House was disqualified and placed third in the $500,000 Kent Breeder's Cup (gr. IIIT) at Delaware Park in June. He was also second in the $100,000 Jersey Derby. Stevens rode Spring House to a win at Churchill Downs in an allowance race on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) undercard.
Criminal Mind and Interpatation return to Colonial Downs after making their first starts at Colonial Downs in the Colonial Turf Cup.
# ENTRY JOCKEY TRAINER
(1) Rebel Rebel Jerry Bailey Robert Frankel
(2) Chattahoochee War TBA Robert Frankel
(3) Prince Rahy TBA Frank Alexander
(4) English Channel John Velazquez Todd Pletcher
(5) Crown Point Jose Espinoza David Donk
(6) Spring House Gary Stevens John Hennig
(7) Silver Whistle Ramon Dominguez William Mott
(8) Rush Bay Robby Albarado Thomas Amoss
(9) Interpatation Michael Luzzi Robert Barbara
(10) Rey de Café Javier Castellano George Arnold
(11) Criminal Mind Cornelio Velasquez Juan Serey
Saturday's "Virginia Million" at Colonial Downs also includes the $200,000 All Along Stakes (gr. IIIT) and the second running of the $200,000 Virginia Oaks.
Stevens has been named to ride Rich in Spirit in the Virginia Oaks and Stupendous Miss in the All Along. Bailey rides My Typhoon and Briviesca in the All Along. John Velazquez rides Dynamist in the Virginia Oaks and Path of Thunder in the All Along.