Art Fan Leads All the Way in First Virginia Oaks

William M. Backer's Art Fan registered an authoritative front-running score in the inaugural running of the $200,000 Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs on Saturday July 10.

Art Fan covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.41 on an officially firm, but somewhat slow, turf course. Art Fan paid $13.00 to win as the fourth choice in the six horse field.

Art Fan broke alertly under Ryan Fogelsonger, Colonial's leading rider. Fogelsonger took her to the lead and coaxed her into a slow relaxed pace, cutting the opening fractions in :25.58 and :50.58. Vous raced two wide in second to apply minimal pressure to Art Fan as 4-5 favorite Galloping Gal tracked in third on the rail.

As they hit the stretch, Art Fan put Vous away and opened up a four-length lead. Edgar Prado put Galloping Gal under a drive, and the favorite cut into Art Fan's lead but was never a serious threat. Art Fan drew off to a 1 1/2-length victory over Galloping Gal. Vous held for a clear third, another 3 1/2 lengths back.

The Oaks was Art Fan's first stakes victory. The Lear Fan filly had just missed by three-quarters of a length in her last two attempts. Hamilton Smith, Colonial's leading trainer in 1998, 2002 and 2003, trains Art Fan.

(Chart, Equibase)