by Nick Hahn
Here’s a handicapping angle you can’t find in the program. How long has a horse been on the grounds prior to the race? In the Virginia Derby, recent history suggests early arrivals get a jump on the field. Last year Silver Max arrived on Wednesday evening prior to the contest. Paddy O’Prado ruled the stakes barn in his early week arrival in 2010. In fact, both Paddy O’Prado and Battle of Hastings (2009) arrived early in the week for both sides of their sweeps of the Colonial Turf Cup and Virginia Derby. On the contrary, in 2011, Air Support arrived, ran, won and departed in a 36-hour stopover when he nosed Banned at the wire. Banned was on the grounds for 5 days and went off the favorite, missing victory in the last stride. Still, though it may not mean as much in the Colonial Turf Cup where only older horses are involved, for 3 year old colts, it appears to be a useful angle.
With four days of racing left, the meet standings aren’t decided and won’t likely be until the conclusion of Saturday’s 12-race card. The “X-man” has a one win lead over “Special K” in the jockey standings — 23 to 22 — with Sheldon Russell at 16 and Richard Monterrey with 13. Hamilton Smith gathered wins in pairs last week and has emerged with nine wins, one ahead of Reid Nagle. Ferris Allen has steadily been finding the right spots and has 7 wins. Robbie Bailes has 6 wins with Dane Kobiskie Lilith Boucher and Karen Dennehy Godsey tied with 5. Nagle’s Big Lick remains the leading owner of the meet with 8 wins, while Larry Johnson has 6, including a pair last Saturday night prior to the Commonwealth Turf Festival.
|4||KARLUK WAY||Three familiar foes reunite at a mile and likely will all be watching each other. “Special K” leds the “Way”.|
|4||WORK IT OUT||Might be able to eliminate one or two, but the rest of the field is well balanced. Tara’s tearing it up.|
|1||COTURNIX||Nice mile and a half on the turf with s’chase angles abounding. Coturnix could become a CNL 3-timer.|
|1||THAT WAS FANTASTIC||Allen puts the lady bug on a likely miler. Djuric has had a solid meet and gets a 2nd start on Smithwick filly.|
|4||MISS NUNN FINER|
|3||CHOIR OF ANGELS||Another potential Colonial 3 time winner in “Choir”, rising quickly. “Togiak” will run better on the firmer going.|
|7||GRAND VIZIER||Race sets up well for KDG with Karamanos and blinkers. LJ’s 1st timer ready to take advantage.|
|5||HE’S MY BROTHER|
|6||ALTA BOY||Cooney’s gelding seeks the firmer going and benefits by losing a half furlong, might be alone on the lead.|
|3||USMC SEMPER FI|
|2||IMPERIAL EAGLE||Another 1 & 1/2 test, this time for maidens. Watch those steeplechase angles, not just on the horses.|
|4||BRIDGE STREET||Second start and switch to the “X-man” a good argument for Ham. Boyce mount could break through.|
|1||SPUNKY COUNTRY GAL|