Medaglia d'Oro heads a group of 57 early nominees for the fifth running of the $500,000 Virginia Derby, which will be contested at 1 1/4 miles over Colonial Downs' Secretariat Turf Course on July 13.
Medaglia d'Oro won the San Felipe Stakes (gr.II) over Siphonic. The Bobby Frankel trainee was a game second to Buddha in the Wood Memorial (gr. I). Sent off as the co-second choice in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Medaglia d'Oro endured a troubled trip on his way to a fourth-place finish, finished eighth in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), and wound up finishing a strong second to Sarava in the Belmont Stakes (gr. 1).
Frankel also nominated French-bred Inesperado, Chiselling, and True Phenomenon, who was a stakes winner in France.
Graded stakes winner Windward Passage has also been nominated to the Virginia Derby. Windward Passage won the Rebel Stakes in March and finished third in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) in April. He subsequently was fourth in the $500,000 Lone Star Derby, and trainer Steve Asmussen will try the colt on turf.
Trainer H. Graham Motion has nominated Equality and The Sewickley Kid. Grade III stakes winner Equality is reminiscent of Motion's Bay Eagle, who finished second in last year's Virginia Derby. Both ran poorly in the Preakness for the Maryland-based trainer and plans were made to switch each to the turf.
Artax Too is another Triple Crown contender on the nomination list. Bred in Virginia by Audley Farm, Artax Too won an allowance at Belmont in his only turf start.
Jeremiah Jack recently defeated older horses in a 1 1/16-miles Churchill Downs allowance in his turf debut. The Patton colt earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure for that effort. The Tom Amoss trainee was also a stakes winner on the dirt at two.
Todd Pletcher leads all trainers with five nominations. His top gun is Smoked Em, who beat Magic Wiesner by two lengths in the latter's prep for the Preakness, the $125,000 Federico Tesio Stakes. Pletcher's other nominees are Fisher Pond, Veracus, Youghal Bay, and Seattle Glory.
The Thoroughbred Corp. has two nominees. D. Wayne Lukas trainee February Storm was third in the Woodlawn Stakes on the Preakness undercard. Johar, trained by Richard Mandella, was second in the $100,000 Will Rogers Stakes (gr. III). Johar is out of champion turf female Windsharp.
Jersey Derby (gr. III) winner Emergency Status is one of five runners from that $100,000 race to be nominated to the Virginia Derby. Third-place finisher Rapadash, fourth-placed Touring England, and beaten favorite Run to Victory join the list.
Lord Juban has dominated the 3-year-old turf races in Florida for trainer Tim Ritvo. The Lord Avie colt has won the Simply Majestic Stakes, the Fabulous Frolic Stakes, and the Caltech Handicap in his last three starts.
Political Attack is another nominee who has done well in Florida, winning the Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT) and the Mecke Stakes over the winter
Virginia trainer Rodney Jenkins has nominated undefeated Running Tide, whose latest score came in the $75,000 Legal Light Stakes at Delaware Park. Running Tide is four-for-four lifetime.
Irish-bred Azillion was imported to the U.S. after his 2-year-old year. He seemed to run well on the dirt and was beaten only a neck by Perfect Drift in the Spiral Stakes (gr. II).
Colonial Downs opens for live racing on June 21 and will run through July 23 on a Friday through Tuesday schedule