American Sailor

Rain made a bold run, but in the end, the Secretariat turf course at Colonial Downs had enough – barely – to hold on.

Severe weather blew through New Kent, VA, midway through Monday afternoon, driving humans and horses for cover and forcing the track to cancel the fourth race – the Da Hoss Stakes – and the fifth.

But racing resumed for the last four races of the day, and remarkably enough, it did so on the turf, which after having been rated firm earlier in the day, was downgraded to good for the closing quartet of live races.

“I’ve been told it can handle a lot of rain and my hat’s off to it,” said jockey Chris Landeros. “I mean, it’s unbelievable. It’s crazy how much rain it took in the short amount of time, and, I mean, it’s great.”

Landeros enjoyed a profitable visit to New Kent Monday, winning the $100,000 Andy Guest Stakes aboard Violenza before running second in the $150,000 Buckland Stakes with a pickup mount, Kentucky Ghost, originally slated to have Rafael Bejarano up.

Both stakes came down to frantic finishes.

In the Andy Guest, Violenza came six wide for the drive and flying late to win by a neck over Mucha Mezquina, with 2-5 favorite Beantown Baby just another half-length back in third. Violenza’s late rally was nicely set up by wicked early fractions.

The two longshots who led at the first two calls – Lovielee (48-1) and Mudslide Wicked (63-1) – threw down an opening quarter-mile in 21.02 seconds, the half-mile rattled off in 43.95. That didn’t do any favors to the early running types, but it had Landeros and Sheldon Russell, who rode Mucha Mezquina, smiling. Those two runners were second-to-last and last in the early going, respectively.

“They were were flying pretty good the first quarter, and, you know, [trainer Ian Wilkes] and I, we kind of came up that she might have been a little better without rushing her the first quarter,” Landeros said. “It might be an advantage to her late in the race. It’s really proven, because today she really had a nice strong punch.”

Running time for the 5 ½ furlongs was 1:02.75, and Violenza paid $9.00 to win.

Violenza, a four-year-old Violence filly on the improve, earned the third win of her career, from 13 starts. The win pushed her earnings to $193,323. She’s a homebred for Randy Bloch, et. al.; she was taken to auction as a yearling but failed to meet her reserve price.

Closers had the edge in the featured Buckland Stakes, too, with Eons and Mychel Sanchez rallying from last to pip Kentucky Ghost – second-to-last early – by a head while 1 ¼ lengths clear of the show horse, the 6-5 favorite Pixelate, who’d passed on Saturday’s Grade 3 BWI Turf Cup for this spot.

Eons’s time for the nine furlongs, 1:48.14, established a Colonial Downs inner turf track record, besting the previous record of 1:48 3/5.

Bettors found Eons, an Arnaud Delacour trainee who hadn’t won since scoring in the 2019 Grade 3 Kent Stakes, only mildly interesting. He went off as the 5.60-1 fourth choice in the field of seven.

But Sanchez liked his mount’s chances just fine. He’d ridden Eons in his last start, when the Giant’s Causeway horse was a closing third despite a rough trip in the Prince George’s County Stakes at Pimlico.

“We got a rough, rough trip [in the PG County], and we only got beat like, a length-and-a-half,” Sanchez explained. “He was running hard, and so I definitely liked my chances.”

Eons, a homebred for Mark Grier, paid $13.20 to win. He now has five wins from 17 starts and earnings of $428,615.

Unhurried early, Eons began to run in earnest nearing the quarter-pole, came wide for the drive, and prevailed narrowly in the last jump.

“With all the rain that we got, it’s playing now for off-the-pace horses,” Sanchez said of the early deficit. “So even though I was a little bit off, I was really confident. He was really strong in the bit. I knew he was going to give me that strong kick.”