Banned One to Beat in Virginia Derby
Banned, who has prospered after being switched to grass racing after just one start on the main track, heads a field of 12 in the 14th running of the $600,000 Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) Saturday, July 16, at Colonial Downs. Banned and Air Support will carry high weight of 123 pounds
The 1 1/4 mile test for 3-year-olds will be contested over the Secretariat Turf Course as the eighth race of a 14-race evening card. The race, scheduled for 8:05 p.m. (EDT), will be the final leg of an All-Stakes Turf Pick-5
The 5-2 morning line favorite Banned shipped onto the Colonial backstretch last Thursday. A consecutive graded stakes winner, Banned leads the field with $297,576 in turf earnings from six grass starts.
By Kitten's Joy , winner of the 2004 Virginia Derby (then grade III) during his turf championship season, Banned is fresh off triumphs at Churchill Downs in the Jefferson Cup Stakes (gr. IIIT) June 18 and the American Turf Stakes (gr. IIT) in May. Jockey Jose Lezcano will ride for owner Glen Hill Farm and trainer Tom Proctor.
Second choice at 4-1 is Street Game, who has never finished worse than third in five turf starts. Trained by Phil Serpe for owner Flying Zee Stable, the Street Cry colt most recently dominated in the Hill Prince Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park by 7 1/4 lengths June 18. That win was preceded by a pair of victories, also at Belmont, including one by 10 3/4 lengths. Three-time Virginia Derby winning rider Edgar Prado will be in the irons.
Crimson China, the next choice at 5-1, is two-for-two on grass. Trained by Graham Motion for Team Valor International, the son of Giant's Causeway most recently captured the Lamplighter Stakes at Monmouth Park with a strong outside run. Julien Leparoux will ride.
Air Support, the fourth choice in the betting, is among the most battle tested, having competed in six straight graded turf stakes. The Smart Strike colt captured the Pilgrim Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont last October and the Transylvania Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland in April. Alex Solis will ride Air Support for breeder/owner Stuart Janney III and trainer Shug McGaughey.
King Congie, trained by Tom Albertrani for West Point Thoroughbreds, has crossed under the wire first in all three of his turf appearances. After winning the Tropical Park Derby on New Year’s Day, the Badge of Silver colt crossed the finish line first in the Hallandale Beach Stakes but was demoted to third for stretch interference. Most recently, King Congie finished seventh in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). John Velazquez has the riding duties.
Also in the field is Zayat Stables’ Benergy, trained by Dale Romans, who won the 2010 Virginia Derby with Paddy O'Prado . Corey Nakatani will ride the Tapit colt, who finished second to Banned in the Jefferson Cup.
Four horses share early odds of 15-1, including Callingahardten, who collected recent back-to-back wins in Kentucky; Newsdad, trained by three-time Virginia Derby-winning conditioner Bill Mott; Thirtyfirststreet, winner of the May 30 Lone Star Derby; and the Kathleen O’Connell-trained Watch Me Go, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II).
$600,000 Virginia Derby (gr. IIT, Race 8, 8:05 p.m. EDT), 3-year-olds, 1 1/4 miles turf
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