Catching My Eye: Closing Day at Colonial Downs

September 12th, 2023

The $500,000 Grade 3 Virginia Derby

Shug sure has got a good one in his barn. Integration. And he’s just getting warmed up. 

Integration came flying down the center of the track to get the best of Program Trading in Saturday’s $500,000 Grade 3 New Kent County Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs.  Covering the 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.41 over a firm outer turf course, the three-year-old trained by Shug McGaughey set a new track record, .06 seconds faster than Flippant’s effort set Aug. 31, 2021.

This was Integration’s second start. 

Under jockey Kendrick Carmouche, the three-year-old Quality Road colt relaxed nicely staying two-wide near the back as Runaway Storm blitzed through early fractions of :22.80 and :46.80. The 3-5 favorite Program Trading got the first jump on the leader in the homestretch, but having followed him throughout, Integration shot by with a perfectly-timed move to put 1 1/4 lengths between him and the Chad Brown trainee.

After earning an 86 Brisnet Speed figure when winning by over six lengths at 1 1/16 miles on debut four weeks prior at Colonial Downs, Integration made a solid step forward in terms of figures with a 95 in Saturday’s derby.

Undefeated in three starts, take nothing away from Program Trading, who ran well in defeat tending to the early pace through the first call before settling in midpack and coming with a game late run.

Likewise, the third-place finisher, Runaway Storm. Trained by Ethan West, this Midnight Storm gelding set sprinter’s fractions and never threw in the towel. That being said, at times the Colonial Downs turf course develops a heavy speed bias, and that was definitely the case on Saturday. 

The $250,000 Virginia Oaks

What a resilient effort by SJB Stable’s Thirty Thou Kelvin. Trained by John Terranova II, the Bolt d’Oro filly dug deep to come back on, winning the $250,000 Woodford Reserve Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs by a neck. 

Under Trevor McCarthy, Thirty Thou Kelvin broke with alacrity and took command with seven behind her, most immediately being Alpha Bella, who bided her time as the two fillies held their positions through both turns. As the field began breathing down their necks, Alpha Bella got the first jump and seemed to put the leader away, but resiliently Thirty Thou Kelvin found more along the rail to come back in triumph, holding off Root Cause by a neck. It was another neck back to Alpha Bella.

Again, the front was the position to hold on Saturday’s track, so keep that in mind with this filly going forward, and maybe the 2-1 morning line favorite trained by Todd Pletcher hung, but hearing McCarthy talk after the race, he said she waited on her competition and was roused by the challenge. Two points slower than her effort in the Wonder Again (G2), Thirty Thou Kelvin earned an 88 Brisnet Speed figure in Saturday’s Oaks.

The $150,000 Da Hoss Stakes

In the first of the day’s stakes events, Nobals was all guts winning the $150,000 Korbel Da Hoss Stakes by a head. Trainer Larry Rivelli gave the call to jockey Pablo Morales, who guided the gelded son of Noble Mission under different tactics than instructed. But did he have a choice with how quickly the fontrunner got after it?

We’ve seen some mighty efforts from Nobals on the lead, but on Saturday, it was the eclectic three-year-old Souper Quest who was able to outbreak Nobals and hold him and others at bay through the deep stretch. In his first stakes and only his fourth start, the Mark Casse trainee is a serious horse, there’s no doubt given the way he dug in when challenged by Alogon and Nobals.

But Nobals would not be denied. After spinning his wheels at the top of the stretch, he found a new gear and kicked forward with the tenacity of a champion. The win was his ninth in 17 starts, and the four-year-old is sitting at the edge of $1 million in lifetime earnings.

$125,000 Rosie’s Stakes

Wow, did Paco Lopez have a rocket underneath him in Saturday’s $125,000 Exacta Systems Rosie’s Stakes for juveniles. No Nay Mets (Ire) tallied his third stakes victory when going 5 1/2 furlongs against 10 other two-year-olds. The son of No Nay Never shot to the front, withstood early pressure from King Konte, and pulled away with ease to win under wraps by 3 1/4 lengths over Toupie

Paco rode the colt for trainer George Weaver, who sprinted the distance in 1:02.03 and earned an 85 Brisnet Speed figure. Don’t be fooled by the dip from the 93 he earned in July’s Tyro at Monmouth. At the top of the stretch, Paco was looking behind him to see how much he had to get into his horse and his assessment was correct — No Nay Mets could gallop home faster than the others could sprint. Watch out for this one.