(CLN PRESS RELEASE – 7/3/13) – Entries were drawn Wednesday for the third annual $250,000 Commonwealth Turf Festival, a series of five $50,000 Virginia-bred stakes races scheduled to be run as races 6 thru 10 this coming Saturday July 6th at Colonial Downs.
The Jamestown Stakes for 2 year olds kicks off the quintet. Long On Value, one of three horses entered that has a start under his belt, is the only one with a win. The Value Plus colt captured a maiden special weight race at Delaware Park June 10th over a wet dirt track. Sheldon Russell will be in the irons Saturday and will face a field of eight other freshmen in the 5 ½ furlong sprint.
Classy Zip, Miss Oil and Lion Down By Me bring three digit turf bankrolls into the twelve horse Oakley Stakes for fillies and mares. The consistent Classy Zip, trained by Hugh McMahon, has 13 “in the money” finishes from 17 life starts while Miss Oil, third in the 2012 Oakley, has 9 “top three” finishes in 12 outings at the New Kent oval. Lion Down By Me, fresh off a two length allowance win at Colonial June 16th, has finished first or second in all four of her Virginia starts.
The second and third place finishers in the 2012 Brookemeade Stakes have a rematch slated for that stakes’ 17th running Saturday. Kelly Green’s In The Rough, last year’s runner up who is set to depart from outside post 11, will face Cobbley’s Breeze, a 7 year old mare from the Karen Dennehy Godsey stable who will leave from post two. In the Rough, with the most turf earnings ($291,190) of any in filly or mare in the field, is fresh off an allowance win at Delaware June 13th. Cobbley’s Breeze on the other hand, makes her first in nearly a year.
The Bert Allen Stakes features six horses that battled in the 2012 Daniel Van Clief Stakes, including the top three finishers. Kathleen O’Connell’s Dannhauser came from last at the half a year ago to win the stakes by three-quarters of a length. The 5 year Johannesburg horse will be making his first start of the year. Powder Mountain, who came on strong in the stretch to take second last year, was fifth most recently in Colonial’s Da Hoss Stakes on June 22nd. Chris Crocker’s Chedi, who took third a year ago, will depart from the rail with jockey Garry Cruise up top. Other Van Clief Virginia-breds competing in the Allen stakes are Virginia Cavalier, Silver Tie Affair and Class Bopper.
The 14th running of the Punch Line Stakes rounds out the Virginia-bred offerings and even though it has the smallest field of the five, it features a trio of interesting candidates. Boltin Out has won back to back turf allowance starts at Colonial this meet and jockey Richard Monterrey goes for the hat trick up top from post position six. Deputy Fling, who has been stellar in six News Kent starts, won the 2011 Bet Allen Stakes and gets leading rider Horacio Karamanos. Jake Rattle N Roll lost the 2012 Punch Line by a neck to Staged Affair and rider Forest Boyce returns to the irons for the 8 year old Bop gelding. Bop won the Punch Line three straight years, from 2001-2003.
First post Saturday is 6 PM. There will be a free handicapping seminar from 4:30 – 5:30 PM on the first floor area featuring Chris Sorenson from Horse Racing Nation and Bobby Zen, author of several books on handicapping. The seminar will focus primarily on the five Virginia-bred stakes.