English Bee buzzes to narrow Virginia Derby score
English Bee and Jorge Vargas, Jr. held off Jais’s Solitude to win the G3 Virginia Derby. Photo by Coady Photography.
English Bee, who races in the colors of Calumet Farm, stalked a pedestrian pace before overtaking front-running Credit Swap in mid-stretch, and held off a late rally from Jais’s Solitude to win the Grade III $250,000 New Kent Virginia Derby by a head. Jorge Vargas, Jr. was aboard the Graham Motion-trained son of 2005 Virginia Derby winner English Channel. English Bee covered a mile and an eighth over the Secretariat Turf Course in 1:52.94.
Credit Swap, ridden by Trevor McCarthy, set lethargic fractions of :26.40, :52.66, 1:18.29 and 1:41.74 before getting passed by the eventual winner. “I knew we were going kind of slow,” said Vargas, who was picking up his second stakes win of the night after capturing the Exacta Systems Rosie’s Stakes with Four Wheel Drive earlier in the evening. “He was comfortable, and he was taking me (along) pretty good. I knew I had a lot of horse. I could have gone whenever I wanted to. He was doing so good for this race. Graham (trainer Motion) had him perfect. In mid-stretch I really thought someone was going to close that much because we pretty were slow, but my horse dug in and fought to the end.”
“I’ve had a couple of tough beats (in this race) over the years,” said Motion. “This is a tough little horse. He’s really deserving. He always shows up. It’s great to be here with a big crowd on an exciting night. Great racing. He’s had a long season. He tries so hard. We might get one more race into him before the end of the year. He ran huge tonight.”
The Virginia Derby was the second stakes win for English Bee, who won the James W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico in May. The $150,000 winner’s share more than doubled his career earnings to $282,150 while bettering his overall mark to four wins, one second and one third from nine starts. He paid $6, $3.40 and $2.80.
Jais’s Solitude ($3.40 and $3) rallied from far back to get the place spot a half-length to the good of Credit Swap ($3.60). Tracksmith, Critical Data, Changi, Solidify and Shootin the Breeze completed the order of finish.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam presented the Virginia Derby trophy in the Winner’s Circle to the victorious connections.
One race earlier, Godolphin’s Carnival Colors rallied three-wide in the stretch and drew off to a 1¼-length score in the $150,000 Fasig-Tipton Virginia Oaks to give trainer Mike Stidham his second stakes tally of the night – earlier in the evening he won the $100,000 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Kitten’s Joy Stakes with Doc Boy. Forest Boyce was aboard the Distorted Humor filly who ran a mile and an eight in 1:48.83.
Forest Boyce rode the winner. She also was aboard Nellie Cashman in 2013 when that runner won the then-Grade 3 Virginia Oaks — the most recent prior running of the race at Colonial Downs.
In a pair of two-year-old stakes, first-time starter Four Wheel Drive for trainer Wesley Ward easily won the Exacta Systems Rosie’s Stakes, while Doc Boy rallied to win the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Kitten’s Joy Stakes, for Oaks-winning trainer Michael Stidham.
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