Summer Doldrums will have more than a rubber match with Strike a Deal when the two meet in the $1-million Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) July 21 at Colonial Downs. Not only will Summer Doldrums' trainer Rick Violette see his archrival, he will see the faces of past race victors.
Three-time Virginia Derby winning jockey Edgar Prado will be aboard Duveen trained by Dale Romans, who saddled 2004 winner, Kitten’s Joy. Trainer Todd Pletcher won the 2005 Turf Cup and Virginia Derby with English Channel and pitches Circular Quay, Top Cross, and Red Giant. Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Circular Quay was a late nomination to the Virginia Derby and installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite. Garrett Gomez returns as the rider for the first time since guiding him to second in the Bessemer Trust Breeder’s Cup Juvenile (gr. I). Gomez rode last year’s winner, Go Between.
Also running is Inca King, trained by Steve Asmussen, who beat Duveen in the Jefferson Cup (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs last month. Familiar Colonial Turf Cup starters Soldier’s Dancer and Love Dubai complete the 10-horse field with Blazing Dynamo, who has won his two turf starts at Belmont Park this spring.
Despite winning the first leg of the Jacob Investments $5-million Grand Slam of Grass, Violette’s Summer Doldrums is the third choice (7-2) in the morning line.
“He flies below radar,” said Violette. “He doesn’t show off. He’s not a real aggressive horse in the morning. He kind of does what he’s told. We’re as good as we were when we brought him down five weeks ago.”
Last month, after turning for home in the Turf Cup, jockey Jose Lezcano aboard Summer Doldrums got the jump on Strike a Deal, who ran even with the winner through the stretch.
Strike a Deal gets a new rider, Ramon Dominguez, who won the second Virginia Derby aboard Phi Beta Doc.
The second leg of the turf series, the Virginia Derby goes 1 1/4 miles-a sixteenth farther than the Turf Cup. The third leg of the Grand Slam is the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) Aug. 11 at Arlington Park, with the John Deere Breeder’s Cup Turf (gr. IT) against older horses guaranteeing a $5-million payout to the horse than sweeps the series.
The Field of the $1-million Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) at Colonial Downs:
1. Blazing Dynamo (Kent Desormeaux)
2. Strike a Deal (Ramon Dominguez)
3. Red Giant (Not Listed)
4. Circular Quay (Garrett Gomez)
5. Inca King (Shaun Bridgmohan)
6. Soldier’s Dancer (Cornelio Velasquez)
7. Duveen (Edgar Prado)
8. Love Dubai (Mark Guidry)
9. Summer Doldrums (Jose Lezcano)
10. Top Cross (Christopher DeCarlo)
There will be familiar markings in the $200,000 Virginia Oaks with $2-million Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner Dreaming of Anna returning to Virginia to face a dozen foes. Dreaming of Anna won the $60,000 Tippett Stakes at Colonial as a 2-year-old.
In the Oaks, Virginia-bred Christmas Kid will be making her first home state start for Virginia’s leading breeder Edward P. Evans. Bit of Whimsey, Silence Dogood, New Edition, Swingit, Bees, Ardnavagh, Lemonline, Super Slash, Snow Cone, Cabbage Key and Ciao fill the Oaks field.
The $60,000 Kitten’s Joy stakes has a field of 11 that includes Jungle Fighter, who won the $45,000 Old Nelson at Colonial Downs five weeks ago and Pass Play winner of four straight including the $60,000 Da Hoss Stakes at Colonial July 7th.
A little past the midway point of Colonial’s 40 day summer meet attendance and handle figures are mixed. Average daily attendance figures are up 18.3% over last year. Daily wagering on live racing at Colonial Downs is down 5.9% over last year.