Flippant won the Virginia Oaks. Photo by The Racing Biz.

A change of tactics has become a successful strategy for jockey Rafael Bejarano with Flippant, the homebred of G. Watts Humphrey trained by Vicki Oliver. As Bejarano has learned, the farther back he can keep reasonably keep Flippant, the better she runs inside the quarter pole.

In Tuesday’s $150,000 Woodford Reserve Virginia Oaks, run prior to the $250,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby (G3), Bejarano galloped the grey three-year old filly in the final tandem up the backstretch behind ten horses. 

“The first time when I run her, I didn’t know too much about this horse,” recalled Bejarano, who’s now ridden the daughter of Tapit in her last four starts. “She always breaks too slow, so I try to rush her out at the beginning and she ran off. This is the kind of filly that likes to come from behind. She likes to get settled, get relaxed and have a good kick. I didn’t know that, so I learned my lesson. So, I told the trainer to let me ride her one more time because next time she’s going to win. Next time I rode her she won by four lengths. The next time she did it again.”

Bejarano simply applied those same tactics Tuesday, and the pace of the Virginia Oaks couldn’t have been better.

“So today my strategy was to have in her in a good position, pull right behind, and let he go her own speed, settle down a little bit and make her turn her foot from the three-eighths or half-mile [pole] and let her go when she is ready,” Bejarano added. “There was a lot of pace in this race, so it was good.”

Out of the turn, Bejarano guided Flippant wide and kicked clear in deep stretch to win by just over a length, resetting Film Maker’s track record at 1 ⅛ miles with a time of 1:46.47. Bejarano has won in Flippant’s last three starts, the two previous wins happening at Ellis Park.

Prior to winning the Virginia Derby, jockey Jose Ortiz and trainer Graham Motion teamed up on Tuned in the $150,000 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Old Nelson Stakes to begin the all turf stakes segment of the program. Prior to Colonial’s meet, Tuned had not won since October 2019 at Keeneland. Eight starts later, the five year old English bred mare by Toronado won an allowance opening weekend at Colonial Downs. 

Angling out of the final turn, Ortiz slingshot Tuned (8/5) six wide completing a last-to-first move in the seven-horse Old Nelson. Tuned, a homebred for Al Shaqab Racing, completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.00.

In the $100,000 Woodford’s Reserve Kitten’s Joy, jockey Aubrie Green went to the lead out of the gate and sustained Epic Luck (7/1) to a frontrunning score for trainer Lynn Ashby. Epic Luck is a Pennsylvania homebred for owners Mark Ashby and William Gotwals by Madefromlucky. In the two-year-old’s only previous start, Epic Luck won a $25,000 maiden optional claimer on the dirt at Delaware Park. Epic Luck covered the mile and a sixteenth in 1:43.74.

Afterwards, Florida bred Trust Our Journey won the $100,000 Exacta Systems Rosie’s Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.80 under a frontrunning ride by Julian Pimentel, holding off Tejano Twist at the wire. Trainer Carlos David trains the two-year-old colt by American Pharoah for Palm Beach Racing.