Great Meadow: Virginia Gold Cup and Commonwealth Cup picks

May 2nd, 2024

A great day of racing over fences is on the agenda at Great Meadow this Saturday. The historic Virginia Gold Cup is the co-feature alongside the Commonwealth Cup (G1).

Let’s analyze both races:

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Race 5: Commonwealth Cup (3:10 p.m. ET)

The inaugural running of the Commonwealth Cup has attracted 10 horses to race 2 1/8 miles over hurdles. A case can be made for plenty of horses to factor, but we’ll throw our support behind #4 Awakened (3-1), winner of the 2 3/8-mile Jonathan Sheppard H. (G1) at Saratoga last summer.

Awakened was beaten in his lone previous start at Great Meadow, finishing third in the 2 1/8-mile David L. "Zeke" Ferguson Memorial (G2) last October, but he gained a lot of ground as the race went on and was beaten only five lengths by three-time Grade 1 winner Snap Decision.

Awakened kicked off 2024 with a respectable effort in the 2 1/2-mile Temple Gwathmey (G2) last month, finishing third behind Snap Decision and two-time Grade 1 winner Noah and the Ark. The competition looks a bit easier in the Commonwealth Cup, opening the door for Awakened to pick up a second Grade 1 win of his own.

#3 West Newton (4-1), runner-up in last year’s Ferguson Memorial, is another logical contender. So is the Grade 1-placed #1 Historic Heart (10-1). Even #8 Welshman (10-1) could get involved after winning the 2 1/8-mile David Semmes Memorial (G2) at Great Meadow last year.

Let’s bet Awakened to win and play him over West Newton, Historic Heart, and Welshman in the exacta:

  • $20 to win on #4 Awakened
  • $4 Exacta: 4 with 3
  • $3 Exacta: 4 with 1,8 ($6)
    Total: $30

Race 6: Virginia Gold Cup (3:50 p.m. ET)

Five horses are set to race four miles over timber fences in the Virginia Gold Cup, which dates to 1922. The field is led by #5 Schoodic (4-5), a 14-year-old veteran whose 9-4-2-1 lifetime record at Great Meadow includes a 5 3/4-length win in the 2021 Virginia Gold Cup and a runner-up finish in the 2022 edition.

Schoodic returns to the Virginia Gold Cup in hot form. Last fall, he won the National Sporting Library and Museum Cup before taking the International Gold Cup Timber S. at Great Meadow by 6 1/4 lengths. And he kicked off 2024 with a gate-to-wire score in the 3 1/4-mile Middleburg Hunt Cup, a perfect prep for the Virginia Gold Cup. Schoodic has every chance to record a fourth straight victory under jockey Graham Watters, who has been aboard for each of Schoodic’s last three wins. Watters is one of the top jockeys at Great Meadow, compiling a 19-8-4-4 (42%) record during the last three days of racing over this course.

We’ll key Schoodic on top of exacta and trifecta tickets using #2 Rhythmia (3-1) and #3 Bogey’s Image (6-1) underneath. Rhythmia has won three of his last four starts, most recently trouncing a three-mile allowance over timber by 10 lengths. But five starts back, Rhythmia was beaten seven lengths by Bogey’s Image in a three-mile maiden special weight over timbers. Bogey’s Image has only run once since then, wiring an allowance over timbers last month by 35 1/4 lengths, so he still has upside and may outrun expectations as the fourth choice on the morning line.

  • $10 Exacta: 5 with 2,3 ($20)
  • $5 Trifecta: 5 with 2,3 with 2,3 ($10)
    Total: $30

Good luck!