War Dancer, ridden by Alan Garcia, rallied through the stretch and won a photo finish over a pair of rivals to capture Saturday’s $500,000 Virginia Derby Gr. 2 at Colonial Downs on closing night.
Trained by Ken McPeek for his Magdalena Racing, War Dancer caught and passed 3-1 second choice Charming Kitten with 100 yards to run and also held off the late running 7-2 third pick Jack Milton to win the 1 1/4-mile turf race for 3- year-olds
The pace was set by 14-1 longshot Redwood Kitten with 5-2 favorite Rydilluc pressing the leader from the outside. Charming Kitten was sitting off the pace with Jack Milton racing in mid-pack. Rydilluc, Charming Kitten and Jack Milton were the first three under the wire in last month’s Penn Mile.
War Dancer, who did not race as a two-year-old, gained ground around the final turn and joined the leaders at the top of the stretch. Sent off at 7-1, War Dancer was able to post a head victory over Charming Kitten who edged out Jack Milton for second.
Completing the order of finish were Draw Two, Redwood Kitten, Fear the Kitten, Readyshakego, Rydilluc, Gefest and Bethel.
The time over a ‘good’ turf course was 2:03.57.
War Dancer notched his first stakes victory and picked up $300,000 for the effort. Since making his debut at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 12, the colt has won three of seven starts for $433,569.
Six of his seven starts have been on turf. He was third in the American Turf at Churchill Downs on May 3 and second on June 15 in the Centaur Stakes at Indiana Downs. Garcia has been aboard the colt for all but one of the starts.
War Dancer returned $16.80, $7.40 and $4.40. Charming Kitten paid $4.40 and $2.80, and Jack Milton paid $3.80 to show.
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While Ken and Sarah Ramsey didn’t find the winner’s circle with any of the 15 progeny of Kitten’s Joy nominated to yesterday’s stakes at Colonial Downs, they did find their way there with Virginia-bred Thank You Marylou who won the won the $75,000 Tippett Stkes.
In other stakes races on the card, Virginia-based PTK won the $75,000 Chenery Stakes for two-year-olds with Kentucky-bred Silvertounguetommy. Sorbel Stables’ Al Qasr won the $75,000 Kitten’s Joy and longshot Nellie Cashman captured the $150,000 Virginia Oaks over oft-runner-up Praia.