English Bee Wins NK VA Derby

ENGLISH BEE (inside) (Coady Photograpy)

NEW KENT, Va. (Aug. 31, 2019) – English Bee, who races in the colors of Calumet Farm, stalked  a pedestrian pace before overtaking front-running Credit Swap in mid-stretch, and held off a late rally from Jais’s Solitude to win the Grade III $250,000 New Kent Virginia Derby by a head. Jorge Vargas, Jr. was aboard the Graham Motion-trained son of 2005 Virginia Derby winner English Channel. English Bee covered a mile and an eighth over the Secretariat Turf Course in 1:52.94.

Credit Swap, ridden by Trevor McCarthy, set lethargic fractions of :26.40, :52.66, 1:18.29 and 1:41.74 before getting passed by the eventual winner. “I knew we were going kind of slow,” said Vargas, who was picking up his second stakes win of the night after capturing the Exacta Systems Rosie’s Stakes with Four Wheel Drive earlier in the evening. “He was comfortable, and he was taking me (along) pretty good. I knew I had a lot of horse. I could have gone whenever I wanted to. He was doing so good for this race. Graham (trainer Motion) had him perfect. In mid-stretch I really thought someone was going to close that much because we pretty were slow, but my horse dug in and fought to the end.”

“I’ve had a couple of tough beats (in this race) over the years,” said Motion. “This is a tough little horse. He’s really deserving. He always shows up. It’s great to be here with a big crowd on an exciting night. Great racing. He’s had a long season. He tries so hard. We might get one more race into him before the end of the year. He ran huge tonight.”

ENGLISH BEE (Coady Photography)

The Virginia Derby was the second stakes win for English Bee, who won the James W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico in May. The $150,000 winner’s share more than doubled his career earnings to $282,150 while bettering his overall mark to four wins, one second and one third from nine starts. He paid $6.00, $3.40 and $2.80 for the winning effort.

English Bee, a maiden winner over the Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs last September, added a Gulfstream turf optional claimer Jan. 19. After winning the Murphy, he finished 10th in the July 6 GI Belmont Derby and fourth in the Aug. 2 GII National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes last time out.

The chestnut colt stalked the pace through pedestrian splits and stuck his head in front of pace-setting Credit Swap at the top of the lane, only to have that foe battle back bravely along the rail. English Bee re-rallied to take the lead in deep stretch and held off the late-closing Jais’s Solitude ($3.40 and $3) with Credit Swap ($3.60) settling for third.


Tracksmith, Critical Data, Changi, Solidify and Shootin the Breeze completed the order of finish.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam presented the Virginia Derby trophy in the Winner’s Circle to the victorious connections.

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