$500,000 purse raises Virginia Derby's profile

Race's 5th running draws big-name trainers, riders

Horse Racing

July 13, 2002|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

NEW KENT, Va. - Colonial Downs takes its annual bow on horse racing's national stage today with the fifth running of its marquee race, the Virginia Derby.

Situated between Richmond and Williamsburg, the summer track raised the purse of its Derby this year from $200,000 to $500,000. Half a million dollars have lured horses trained by Hall of Famers Neil Drysdale and Bill Mott and jockeys who swept the Triple Crown series.

Victor Espinoza, the California rider, piloted War Emblem to two-thirds of the Triple Crown: the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Espinoza will ride the Drysdale-trained Flying Dash in the Virginia Derby.

Edgar Prado, the former Maryland star, dashed War Emblem's Triple Crown hopes in the Belmont aboard long shot Sarava. Today, Prado will ride the Mott-trained Orchard Park at Colonial Downs.

Flying Dash at 7-5 in the morning line and Orchard Park at 8-5 head the field of seven 3-year-olds set to run 1 1/4 miles on turf. They boast big-name connections as well as imposing race records.

The German-bred Flying Dash, who raced as a 2-year-old in Europe, has finished first in both U.S. races this year for Drysdale. However, the colt was disqualified after easily winning the Grade III Hawthorne Derby when he was found to have raced on illegal drugs.

Drysdale, who initially was fined $2,500 and suspended 45 days, appealed the finding, and the Illinois Racing Board stayed the penalties pending further study.

Orchard Park, a Florida-bred son of Hennessy, won his last race, the Grade III Jefferson Cup on Churchill Downs turf, with an explosive five-wide move from last. He has won five of his last six races.

The only Maryland horse in the field is the Robbie Bailes-trained Root With Style. Bailes bought the Root Boy colt last month for a Virginian who wanted to run in his state's premier race.

NOTE: Xtra Heat heads a contingent of Laurel-based horses today in the "Summit of Speed" at Calder Race Course. The Laurel speedster will sprint six furlongs in the $400,000 Princess Rooney Handicap.

Willa On The Move, trained by Rodney Jenkins, and Nice Boots Baby, trained by Tony Dutrow, will compete in the Grade III Azalea Breeders' Cup.

Virginia Derby

Where: Colonial Downs, New Kent, Va.

When: Today, 5:42 p.m.

Purse: $500,000.

Distance: 1 1/4 miles on turf for 3-year-olds.

TV: ESPN2 on tape, 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The field

PP Horse Trainer Jockey Odds

1. Sunkosi Beau Greely undecided 15-1

2. Jeremiah Jack Tom Amoss Robby Albarado 8-1

3. Kris's Prayer Terri Pompay Horatio Karamonos 6-1

4. Touring England Victoria Oliver undecided 15-1

5. Orchard Park Bill Mott Edgar Prado 8-5

6. Flying Dash Neil Drysdale Victor Espinoza 7-5

7. Root With Style Robbie Bailes Phil Teator 20-1

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