In Virginia-bred races, connections “excited to watch it all”
by Frank Vespe
“For stakes races I go everywhere,” said Amy Moore Saturday afternoon after watching her stable’s star, Queen Caroline, win the Brookmeade Stakes at Laurel Park. “I’m new enough to the game, I’m still excited to watch it all.”
But that’s the point, isn’t it? Why own horses if not to be moved by their success?
And on a day when high-end connections grabbed two of the three graded stakes on offer — leading to empty post-race winner’s circles — it was the winning connections of the day’s five Virginia-bred or -sired races who spread some joy around Laurel Park.
Moore’s Queen Caroline, trained by Michael Matz and ridden by Feargal Lynch, who won four times today, powered to a 1 1/4 length victory as the 3-2 favorite in the $60,000 test. Running time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:40.94. Favored Armoire was second, almost two lengths in front of Secret or Not in third.
It snapped a three-race losing streak for Queen Caroline, a four-year-old Blame filly bred by Morgan’s Ford Farm. Her prior win had come here, also against Virginia-breds, in the Nellie Mae Cox Stakes back in June. But two back, as the favorite in the William M. Backer, Queen Caroline faltered to third behind Sweet Sandy and Armoire.
Today, however, there was no such trouble.
“I’m really pleased with the way she ran today. She had a good time and she was relaxed. That’s the old Queen Caroline,” said Moore, an attorney by trade.
Queen Caroline — who, in her last six races had, oddly enough, finished first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth — now has six wins from 16 career starts. The winner’s share pushed her career earnings to the $375,000 mark.
“It’s really nice to get back to the winner’s circle,” Moore observed.
Dave the lawyer had a similar feeling after watching his namesake horse — Lawyer Dave — close late in a mad scramble to win the $60,000 Punch Line Stakes by a head. Lawyer Dave, an eight-year-old Lawyer Ron gelding, was, at 11-1, the longest shot to win on the day.
“Steve (Hamilton) rode a great race,” Dave the lawyer — David Dobson — said after the race. “Carla (Morgan, the trainer) has been really keeping him tuned. He likes this track, he really does.”
It was Lawyer Dave’s 11th win in 60 career starts. Back in June, in the White Oak Farm, against similar, he had run second. Today, Cryptos’ Holiday was second, and Fly E Dubai held third. Favored Two Notch Road loomed a threat along the inside, couldn’t find racing room, and ended up sixth.
Dobson, who with his wife races as Lady Olivia at Northcliff LLC — Lady and Olivia having been dogs the couple once owned — bred Lawyer Dave and raced him during the early part of his career. But they lost him to a claim, for $12,500, in February 2015. But after he’d changed hands four more times, the Dobsons and trainer Carla Morgan grabbed him back last December, this time for just $5,000.
He returned to the races in June of this year and has not run for a tag since.
“I was sitting there at my computer one day and I saw hie was going to be running for a tag, and I called Carla and said we have to bring him back home because the whole point is to bring them back home,” Dobson explained. “When their competitive lives are a little bit gone, I always want to make sure we bring them back home. I don’t want them lost or going somewhere which is not good. Our philosophy has always been, if we breed them, if we foal them, if we train them and race them, they have a permanent home.”
That’s good news for Lawyer Dave, though it appears he won’t be needing to take advantage of it just this moment. The win was his first in stakes company.
“Dave has got a paddock right outside my office window,” Dobson said. “He’s vivacious.”
He’s not the only one.
Jill Gordon-Moore had a picture she wanted a reporter to see in the moments after the $60,000 Jamestown Stakes, for two-year-olds going 5 1/2 furlongs. It was of Yes to the Dress as a one-day old foal, motoring across the grassy fields at Corner Farm, the breeding farm she and her husband Ned operate in Berryville, VA. She seemed comfortable then, and she certainly was comfortable today, romping to a five-length victory in her first try on the green. It was a win perhaps foretold by the picture — and by her breeding.
“This is the 15th foal out of that mare (Chemise, by Secret Hello),” Gordon-Moore said. “She’s retired now, but the only one that hasn’t won yet is a three-year-old that was second a few months ago and we haven’t heard back from him.”
Racing for Its All About the Girls LLC and trained by Ron Moquett, Yes to the Dress broke her maiden in her third try at Delaware Park, on the dirt, prior to today’s race. Under Jose Lezcano this afternoon, she jumped to an immediate lead and never looked back, navigating the distance in 1:03.27 as much the best.
That made Jeff Wible and his wife Jennifer — both part of Its All About the Girls, which is managed by Anna Seitz and is “about broadening the ability to own racehorses to a large group of women and men, with the idea that we can have and we can win,” said Julie Chlopecki, also a member of the LLC — more than a little happy. Yes to the Dress is the first horse the couple, who live in Indiana, has owned.
“My grandfather was into horse racing several decades ago, and so I got interested a couple years ago,” explained Jeff Wible. “I didn’t know what to expect today. We just wanted to see a good race.”
They did that, as did Dobson and Moore, who summed up all the winners’ feelings.
“This race she ran beautifully and was ridden beautifully, and it was a great pleasure to watch,” she said.
NOTES In two other Virginia-bred stakes, Arnaud Delacour trainees took the money both times. Special Envoy, whom he trains for Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone, took the Bert Allen Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths as the overwhelming 1-9 favorite. It was his third straight win against Virginia-bred rivals… Exaggerated, a Blame mare he trains for Lael Stables, rolled to a two-length win in the Oakley Stakes. It was her first victory since she won the Giant’s Causeway at Keeneland in April 2016. She was sent off at 7-10 odds.