Jevian Toledo
Jevian Toledo won the Meadow Stable Stakes aboard Grateful Bred. Photo by Nick Hahn.

Not many names were more closely associated with the original incarnation of Colonial Downs than those of Bert Allen and Horacio Karamanos.

Allen, who passed away in 2011, was a longtime horseman in his own right. He owned, and son Ferris Allen trained, 1986 Preakness entrant Miracle Wood. He was also a strong advocate for the creation of what became Colonial Downs and was a presence, holding court, at virtually every day of live racing in those early years.

And Karamanos, of course, was one of the top pilots at Colonial in the early years, registering so many upsets in important races that then-on-air handicapper Derby Bill Watson dubbed him Special K.

So perhaps it was fitting, on an opening day that felt like one of the most important days in Colonial’s second incarnation, that it would be Karamanos who piloted winning runner Passion Play in the $100,000 Bert Allen Stakes over the Colonial turf.

“I expected my horse to win,” Karmanos said. “He took the lead easily.”

That he did.

Passion Play, a five-year-old Hold Me Back gelding, grabbed the lead by more than a length through an opening quarter-mile in 23.03 seconds, relaxed through a modest middle fraction that saw the half-mile tick by in 47.56, and then had plenty to go on to win by two lengths in 1:41.73 for 1 1/16 miles over firm turf.

“The pressers came late, but my horse gave me a nice kick,” Karamanos said.

Passion Play was bred in Virginia by Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Iselin, III, and is trained by Mary Eppler for owner Reiley McDonald. The win was his third from 20 career starts and pushed his career earnings to just shy of $200,000.

Passion Play returned $17.20 to win and topped an exacta, with Forloveofcountry in second, that paid $21.10 for a dollar. Favored Chess Chief, a Grade 2 winner on the main track, finished fourth and was never much involved in the first turf start of his career.

One race later, Grateful Bred powered home to win the $100,000 Meadow Stable Stakes for horses bred, sired, or certified in Virginia. The win was Grateful Bred’s fourth in six career turf starts.

It was also the first stakes win for trainer Madison Meyers.

“It means everything to us, it’s really exciting,” Meyers said. “We love Colonial Downs, and Mr. Keys, the owner, he lives in Virginia, he’s actually one of our neighbors. And we really like to support the program, so it’s pretty exciting.”

Off as the 2-1 favorite after the scratch of a.m. second choice Boldor and despite a 12-1 morning line, Grateful Bred was never far back under jockey Jevian Toledo, made a three-wide bid near the quarter-pole, and drew away to win in 1:02.45 for 5 ½ furlongs on the grass.

A homebred for Gordon Keys, Grateful Bred is a five-year-old, Maryland-bred gelding by Great Notion out of the Malibu Moon mare Malibu Moment. He’s won four of eight overall with earnings of $159,765.

NOTES Karamanos won the nightcap with a late rally to finish with a riding triple… In other stakes action, Virginia-bred Tasting the Stars, with Feargal Lynch up for John Kimmel, won the Nellie Mae Cos Stakes; and Puppymonkeybaby, with Toledo getting his second stakes win of the day, this for Sarah Nagle, won the M. Tyson Gilpin. Nagle and owner Big Lick Farm won twice on the day…