Late nominations for the Virginia Derby that is run on July 15 close Monday, July 3. The twin 3-year old turf races kick off the first two "bases" of Jacobs Investments $5 million Grand Slam of Grass. Should there be a single winner of the Colonial Turf Cup and the Virginia Derby, the series would guarantee a $5 million payout should that exceptional horse win the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Park and the $3 million dollar John Deere Breeder's Cup Turf (gr IT) against older horses, resulting in a bonus of $2 million.
Colonial Downs' early closing of their twin million dollar 3-year old turf races -- the Colonial Turf Cup and the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) --have drawn 107 nominations, including Barbaro, Bluegrass Cat and Steppenwolfer, top three finishers in the Kentucky Derby Presneted by Yum! Brands (gr. I).Other Kentucky Derby starters that have been nominated are Showing Up (6th in the Derby), Deputy Glitters (8th), Seaside Retreat (10th) and Storm Treasure (11th). Of the Kentucky Derby starters that have been nominated, only Barbaro has started on the turf more than once, winning his first three races on the turf before switching to the dirt for the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III).The nominations also include the top five finishers in the $100,000 Early Times American Turf (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs -- Stream Cat, Go Between, Gaelic Storm, Giant Basil and Tahoe Warrior.Owner Peter Vegso hopes to reunite the repeat Virginia Derby winning combination of trainer Bill Mott and jockey Edgar Prado with the nomination of Go Between. The trio teamed up to win back-to-back running of the Virginia Derby in 2002 (Orchard Park) and 2003 (Silver Tree).Rock Lobster, winner of the $75,000 Woodlawn Stakes winner at Pimlico on May 6, has also been nominated. English Channel won the Woodlawn prior to winning last summer's inaugural Colonial Turf Cup and Virginia Derby.Nominee Chin High won the Transylvania Stakes (gr. IIIT) with odds greater than 68-1 before returning to the dirt in an eighth place finish in the $325,000 Lexington Stakes (gr. II). Other 3-year-old turf stakes winners that have been nominated include To Sender (Hill Rise at Santa Anita) and Can't Beat It (Hallandale Beach at Gulfstream).Nominees for the Virginia Derby are also nominated to the $1 million Colonial Turf Cup run on June 24, making it an unlikely start for Barbaro.