Robb to send four to Colonial Downs stakes

Tuesday brings a pair of dirt stakes for juveniles at Colonial Downs, and no trainer will have more chances to get the money than will John Robb.

Robb, the longtime Maryland fixture who doesn’t typically race much at Colonial, his stock tending more towards dirt than turf, will send four horses on the trek to New Kent. Given the trainer’s success with juveniles, none of them would be a shock.

Both races, the Hickory Tree for two-year-olds and the Keswick for juvenile fillies, will be contested at five furlongs on the main track. Both have a $150,000 purse and are for Virginia-bred, -sired, or-certified horses.

The Hickory Tree has drawn a field of eight, with the Mike Maker-trained Simply Super the 9-5 morning line favorite. The Super Saver colt won at first asking at Keeneland in April but has been up the track in two subsequent stakes tries, including last out in the Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs. Horacio Karamanos will ride.

Also in the Hickory Tree is Heldish (7-2), trained by Brittany Russell. The Great Notion colt won at first asking at Laurel Park July 1.

Robb’s duo includes both the most experienced horse in the race and the least. Both are homebreds for Robb and his wife Gina, who race as No Guts No Glory Farm.

The latter is Bandits Heart. The unraced Mosler colt is a half-brother to $800,000 earner Anna’s Bandit and will have Robb’s go-to rider Xavier Perez in the irons.

“He’s a very large horse, so I’ve had to take my time to get him here,” Robb said on Off to the Races Radio August 6. “We’re taking advantage of the Virginia certified races, which the races comes up easier than normal. So I had to make a choice: either running maiden special at Laurel for $50,000 or there for $150,000, and I don’t think there’s a whole lot of difference between the two competition-wise.”

Bandits Heart (12-1) has been training forwardly at Laurel and worked five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 on July 24. That was the second-fastest of 10 works at the distance that day.

“He can run a little bit, no question about it,” Robb said.

General J R (5-1), Robb’s other entrant in the Hickory Tree, has made four starts and finished second in three of them. Christian Olmo will ride.

The Hickory Tree takes place as the fifth race, and two races later, the fillies will take center stage in the Keswick.

The Mike Trombetta-trained Naval Empire, a winner at first asking over the strip, is the 3-1 morning line choice. The Empire Maker filly, a homebred for R. Larry Johnson, will have Victor Carrasco in the irons.

Robb counters once again with the race’s most experienced horse in Cocktail Dreaming (7-2), alongside one-time starter Genieinabridle (8-1).

Cocktail Dreaming, with three starts under her belt, put it all together to graduate last out June 19 with Christian Olmo, who has the return mount, up. Cocktail Dreaming, by Bourbon Courage, is also a No Guts No Glory homebred.

“She started early, has already won, and has plenty of experience,” Robb said. “She can go to the front or come from off of it.”

Robb will give a leg up to Xavier Perez on Genieinabridle, who ran second in her career debut July 15 at Laurel. Mens Grille Racing bought her as a yearling for $55,000.