Churchill Downs-based trainer Walter Bindner will decide in the next couple of days whether to ship Lakeside Farm's rapidly-improving Colonial Colony to New York for Saturday's Manhattan (gr. IT) at Belmont or stay home for the $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) June 14.A 5-year-old son of 1980 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Pleasant Colony, Bindner newest stable star has spent most of his career on the turf, but has run extremely well this year on the dirt.
"We'll make a decision on the Manhattan in the next few days," said Bindner. "If we don't go there, I'd say he'd probably be in the Stephen Foster."
Colonial Colony has been consistent, but unspectacular, through most of his career as he has fashioned a record of 3-4-5 in 19 races with earnings of $198,115. But, after sitting out the final six months of 2002, he has been a much better this year.
He opened the campaign with an allowance win over fellow Stephen Foster candidate Full Mandate at the Fair Grounds and followed that with a fast-closing fourth-place finish behind Colorful Tour and Crafty Shaw in the Razorback (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park. Next he lost by a neck to Fight for Ally in the National Jockey Club (gr. III) at Hawthorne and then ran fourth to likely Stephen Foster favorite Mineshaft over a "sloppy" track in the Pimlico Special (gr. I). That's four good performances in 2003 against top company at four different tracks.
"I thought he was a good horse from the day I first saw him," Bindner said. "We've always had in mind that he would be a better horse as he got older. We've been fortunate enough that the owner was good enough to stick with me and stick with the horse."
Although his four races this year have all been on the dirt, 11 of Colonial Colony's 19 races have come on turf, where he has a record of 2-3-2. Bindner sent him to the sidelines for a long rest after a poor effort in a turf allowance at Churchill last June. He has planned all along to return to the grass with Colonial Colony, and it might have happened in today's Louisville Handicap (gr. III) at Churchill Downs if not for the
"It was just a little close to having run hard against those good horses at Pimlico," Bindner said. "We want to see if, as he's getting older, he shows the same improvement on the grass as he has on the dirt."