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Running at 7-1 odds, the winner didn’t fully kick in until the last quarter of a mile, winning by a head.
Daniel Sangjib Min | Richmond Times-Dispatch
Alan Garcia on War Dancer (6) gives a thumbs up after winning the 16th Running of The Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs in New Kent on Saturday.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
NEW KENT — As War Dancer walked around the paddock Saturday at Colonial Downs just before the 16th running of the Virginia Derby , his eyes looked like he wondered why all the spectators’ eyes weren’t on him.
Soon they all would be.
In a photo finish, War Dancer and jockey Alan Garcia went 1 1⁄4 miles in 2:03.57 to win the $500,000 premier race at Colonial Downs. War Dancer is trained by Kenneth McPeek and owned by Magdalena Racing. He went off at 7-1 and paid $16.80.
Charming Kitten, ridden by Joel Rosario, finished second. John Velazquez rode Jack Milton to a third-place finish.
Redwood Kitten and jockey Shaun Bridgmohan showed the early speed, leading through the first mile with the favorite Rydilluc and jockey Edgar Prado just behind.
War Dancer sat in fourth at the mile mark, but dug in late and closed to win the Grade-II race by a head. Redwood Kitten ran out of gas and ended up finishing fifth.
It appeared Rydilluc would make a late run at the lead coming down the stretch, but gave way, got behind another horse and ended up finishing eighth.
“It’s a great day,” McPeek said. “It’s a great group of people who own this colt. They’ve been real patient with him and he’s obviously very very good. The farther he goes, the better. It was a thrilling race.”
War Dancer had never run a 1 1⁄4 -mile race before. He had won at 1 1⁄8 miles at Golf Stream Park in Florida on March 9 and at 1 1⁄ 16 miles at Keeneland race track in Kentucky on April 10. Garcia was the mount in both of those races.
“He ran a mile last time,” McPeek said.
War Dancer finished second in the Centaur Stakes at Indiana Downs on June 15, “which was really too short for him,” McPeek said. “The pace wasn’t right. He needs a little more ground, and the extra quarter of a mile was a big deal and we need a little pace in front of us. I think we got that too.”
It was Garcia’s second stakes win of the night. He rode Virginia-bred Thank You Marylou to a win in the Tippett Stakes three races earlier.
“I have a good feeling on every horse I ride for everybody,” Garcia said.
There were three other stakes races on the card Saturday aside from the Derby and Tippett Stakes. Garry Cruise rode Silvertonguedtommy to victory in the 16th running of The Chenery Stakes at 5 1⁄ 2 furlongs.
Al Qasr, ridden by Ben Creed, won the 11th running of The Kitten’s Joy stakes at 1 1⁄ 2 miles.
Nellie Cashman, ridden by Forest Boyce, won the 10th running of The Virginia Oaks (Grade III) in the other graded race of the evening, going 1 1⁄ 8 miles. Nellie Cashman went off at 19-1 and paid $41.60.
It was the first graded victory for Boyce.
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