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Paddy O'Prado wins the Grade 2 Virginia Derby (Updated)

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Paddy O'Prado, using a powerful inside move along the final turn, easily dispatched of his rivals in today's Grade 2 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs. (Chart)

In other action:

Workin for Hops won the American Derby at Arlington Park. (Chart)
Tuscan Evening (IRE) won the Modesty Handicap. (Chart)
Rahystrada won the Arlington Handicap. (Chart)
Sweet August Moon upset Free Flying Soul to win the A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park. (Check)
Skipshot upset Sidney's Candy in the Swaps Stakes. (Chart)
Check the Label won the Virginia Oaks at Colonial. (Chart)
Stradivinsky won the Jaipur Stakes. (Chart)
Life At Ten won the Delaware Handicap. (Chart)
Treat Gently (GB) won the Robert G. Dick Memorial. (Chart)
A.U. Miner won the Greenwood Cup at Philadelphia Park. (Chart)

I'll have more on the Virginia Derby and all of today's stakes action later on.

Some thoughts on yesterday's stakes action:

  • I mentioned this earlier in the week but I think it bears repeating after yesterday's Virginia Derby: I think Dale Romans has done a fantastic job with Paddy O'Prado these past four to five months.  How many trainers would take a horse that ran as well as Paddy did in the Derby and have the discipline to put him back on grass following the Triple Crown?  A lot of trainers (and/or owners) would have elected to take the more lucrative route through the summer races for three year olds: Haskell, Travers, and the Breeders' Cup Classic.  Even with Paddy's poor performance in the Preakness, many would elect to throw that race out and stay on the dirt.  Romans, to his credit, recognized that Paddy has a much brighter future on the lawn than on the dirt.

    It might be a little early to state this but I truly believe that if Paddy can continue to be on a roll through the rest of 2010 (and maybe comes through with a solid performance in the Breeders' Cup Turf), he could be the champion three year old.  This, of course, depends greatly on what Super Saver and Lookin At Lucky do the rest of the year, but it's certainly plausible that Paddy will have the more sparkling resume at the end of the year.
  • Speaking of yesterday's Virginia Derby, has anyone seen Stately Victor?  To be fair to this colt, the pace ended up a lot slower than what I had expected going in thanks in part to the scratch of the 6 Formulaforsuccess, but Stately Victor still came up with a big zero.

    I didn't care for Stately Victor much during the Triple Crown season as I just didn't think he was going to excel running on dirt but when his connections switched him back to the lawn I figured that we'd see improved performances.  However, his flop in yesterday's race indicates a couple of things to me.  First, as reader JP Fanshawe noted in the comments yesterday, he's a horse that is completely dependent on a fast pace.  Second, he might be a borderline Graded stakes animal at this time.  

    The only two horses Stately Victor was able to finish ahead of in yesterday's Virginia Derby was a horse that won broke his maiden in a $16k event last time out and a horse that had just finished 2nd in a N2L $30k claimer.  Hardly an impressive feat.
  • Yesterday's Colonial Downs turf course was simply punishing for any horse on the lead and it seemed to get more punishing as the day wore on.  The speed, however, didn't fall apart in deep stretch, it just wasn't able to hold on even with a slow pace in many of the events.  Of the fourteen races on the card, only two were won in wire-to-wire fashion: Early Star in race 3 (N1X Allowance) and Baltimore Belle in race 5 (N1X Allowance for fillies & mares).

    Below is a quick summary of where the half mile leader finished for each race yesterday at Colonial Downs:

    Race

    ½ leader finish

    1

    4th

    2

    7th

    3

    1st

    4

    4th

    5

    1st

    6

    2nd

    7

    3rd

    8

    7th

    9

    4th

    10

    2nd

    11

    2nd

    12

    4th

    13

    3rd

    14

    2nd


  • I'm not sure what to make of yesterday's Swaps Stakes and Skipshot's lunging upset of 1/5 Sidney's Candy.  I think we can look at this as either a) Sidney's Candy needing a race after taking two months off following the Derby, or b) Skipshot simply being the better horse.  It's probably a little bit of both.

    Regardless of whether Sidney's Candy needed a race or not, I still don't see this colt as a horse that wants a mile and a quarter so I think it's unlikely he's going to make any waves in the Classic division.  Fortunately for Sidney's Candy, there are lots of graded stakes races at a mile and a sixteenth and a mile and an eighth.
  • Dean's Kitten ran a lot better in yesterday's American Derby but he was no match for Workin For Hops, who easily won this race after stalking the early lead.  Workin For Hops will likely face off against Paddy O'Prado in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes on Arlington Million day.
  • Based on what I saw from General Quarters in the Arlington Handicap, it will be difficult to make a case for that horse in the Arlington Million as anything other than a long shot.  He didn't have the greatest of trips as he was caught wide going into both turns, but the Million field will likely be a lot tougher than what he faced on Saturday and he didn't show much to indicate he'd be able to step up his game to that level.  

    Another result of General Quarters performance in the Arlington Handicap is my downgrading of the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic from the Derby undercard.  Since that race, only two horses have come back to win: 6th place finisher Al Khali (a OC75k/N4Y race at Belmont) and Wise River (a listed stake at Lone Star).  The rest of the field has come up with a big zero since the first Saturday in May.  

    It's possible a bunch of these horses will start to perform at a high level, but it's also likely that the Turf Classic just wasn't that strong of a race this year.

    Below is a quick chart illustrating the record of the Turf Classic field since that race.

    Finish

    Horse

    Record

    Best Finish

    1

    General Quarters

    2-0-0-1

    3rd G1 Stephen Foster

    2

    Court Vision

    1-0-0-0

    6th G1 Manhattan

    3

    Loup Breton (IRE)

    1-0-0-0

    4th G1 Whittingham

    4

    Battle of Hastings (GB)

    1-0-0-0

    5th G1 Whittingham

    5

    Blues Street

    1-0-0-0

    8th G2 Monmouth

    6

    Al Khali

    2-1-0-0

    1st OC75k/N$Y @ Bel

    7

    Yate's Black Cat

    1-0-0-0

    4th Opening Verse @ CD

    8

    Wise River

    2-1-0-0

    1st Dallas Turf

    9

    Pop Tart

    2-0-0-0

    4th G2 Firecracker