All of the inside scoop on Virginia's biggest day of Steeplechase racing -- the Virginia Gold Cup. Hey, 50,000 of your closest friends can't be wrong! Do you have your tickets yet?

Sunday, May 6, 2007


Running and jumping on the lead for 4 miles, timber veteran Salmo won the $100,000 Virginia Gold Cup May 5 at Great Meadow. Salmo is a homegrown Virginia-bred produced by Sara Collette at her and husband Bruce’s Pageland Farm in Casanova. Salmo’s dam, Melanta by Vast Empire, is also a Pageland homebred.
The 11-year-old son of steeplechase sire Northern Baby went to the lead at the start, maintained the advantage with superb jumping over the 22-fence course and repelled a stiff challenge from VTA member Harold Via, Jr.’s Mr Bombastic in the stretch to win by a head. Chip Miller rode the winner for trainer Jack Fisher. Ghost Valley was third and Arthur “Nick” Arundel’s Seeyouattheevent was fourth.

The world's first timber race with a six-figure purse, the Gold Cup featured five major contenders in contention at the last fence. Salmo, Mr Bombastic, Ghost Valley, Bubble Economy and Seeyouattheevent were all in with a chance. Bubble Economy fell and Salmo and Mr Bombastic surged away toward the wire.

Colette produced Melantha from the *Zabeg mare Flower Bow. Flower Bow was the dam of 11 foals, eight to race and five winners including $72,488 winner North Station and $42,974 winner Fairfield Joe. Flower Bow was a half- sister to stakes winner Turma-Now who won the Arch Ward Stakes and placed in the Hyde Park Stakes and the Futurity Trial Stakes. The colt by Tooley also set a new track record at Gulfstream Park. The extended family incudes Grade 1 winner Wedge Shot and the stakes winners Pitching Wedge and Arctic Search.

Collette was there when Salmo was foaled. “He was enormous, but had this athletic coordination. I always had the feeling he was an extraordinary horse,” said Collette.

Salmo, aside from being by Northern Baby the sire of steeplechase champions Highland Bud and Warm Spell, never raced until he was a five-year-old in 2001. He only made three turf starts on the flat at Colonial Downs and Pimlico before setting his sights exclusively on the jump meets. He has always liked the course at Great Meadow, breaking his maiden there in 2003 as a seven-year-old. He also was third in the 2004 International Gold Cup to Chinese Whisper and Joe at Six.

Collette sold Salmo to Irv Naylor following his maiden victory at Great Meadow. Acting on the advice of Kasie Kinglsey, the mother of Naylor’s then trainer Arch Kingsley, Naylor paid what Collette called a huge price “since I really didn’t want to sell him.” Naylor agreed, and the rest is history.
Now under new silks, timber racing continues to agreed with the now 11-year-old Salmo. He won the Winterthur Bowl and the Radnor Hunt Cup in April and May of 2006, and he prepped for his Gold Cup win by running second to Ghost Valley in the Middleburg Hunt Cup at the Middleburg Spring Races at Glenwood Park this April.

“Everybody longs to win the Gold Cup,” Collette told the Fauquier Times-Democrat after the race. “He (Salmo) needs to be a happy horse to run his best, and I think Jack has him happy,” she added.

Saturday, May 5, 2007


What are you doing on the internet? There are only two places you should be today. One is pictured above -- the Gold Cup, and the other is pictured below -- the Kentucky Derby.
You need to get dressed, or you might miss something.

Friday, May 4, 2007


…you are in the wrong place.

How do you get to Great Meadow and the Virginia Gold Cup? From DC/Northern Virginia get on Interstate 66 and drive until you no longer see ANY buildings. We're talking NONE. Don't be scared, it's OK.

If you have a South Rail pass, get off at the Gainesville exit and take 29-211 to Warrenton. In Warrenton, turn right on 17 North. Go 8 miles and look for lots of policeman telling you where to park. You can’t miss. If you have a NORTH RAIL pass stay on 66 all the way to Exit28 Marshall. Take 17 south for 3 miles. You will be tempted to take Exit31 The Plains, but don’t. It doesn’t work.

Also, be advised that Nissan Pavilion in Bristow is hosting the WMZQ Fest 2007 on the same day. That means more traffic in Gainesville, so plan accordingly. If you take a wrong turn and see LOTS of cowboy hats, you are in the wrong place.

Drive safely, and we will see you tomorrow.


By now you should have figured out what you are going to wear...

Here is one last minute tip: DON'T WEAR THIS. For starters, who knew they even made black metalic duct tape? Secondly, the taped-up face is gonna scare, your friends, your date, your spouse, Homeland Security, you name it.

Bad idea, OK?

Finally, your tan lines are going to make you look like a Haloween pumpkin.

Get back in your closet and try again.

Thursday, May 3, 2007


Here's how we handicap the 82nd running of the $100,000 Virginia Gold Cup (for recreational purposes only, of course):

3 to 1 – GHOST VALLEY –This one comes from the First Family of jump racing being owned by George Strawbridge’s Augustin Stable. Sanna Hendriks trains. Career earnings over timber $77,400. Ghost Valley, pictured right, has made 18 starts over timber and been in the money all but once. He most recently won the Middleburg Hunt Cup. October 2006, he won the Gold Cup’s sister race, the $50,000 International Gold Cup.

4 to 1 – BUBBLE ECONOMY – Does Saluter ring any bells? How about Jack Fisher? Bubble Economy has lifetime earnings of $127,000. He won the Little Grand National last time out on April 21 by 3.5 lengths. Prior to that, he was second in the My Lady’s Manor a week earlier, and back in March he won the open timber race at Green Spring.

5 to 1 – NO FAST MOVES – The Kinross-Morris combo wins jump races like Tiger Woods wins golf tournies. No Fast Moves ($42,900) was second in his only 2007 prep race at the Fairfax Point-to-Point beaten four lengths by Fields of Omagh. Last year at Iroquois, he was second in a $75,000 timber stake, and the race prior to that he was second in the My Lady’s Manor. He likes to be second.

7 to 1 – MR. BOMBASTIC (GER) – Nizza pferd! Mr. Bobastic has won $58,300 and was recently third to Fappa Fire and Bubble Economy at My Lady’s Manor. One week earlier, he won the Lady Rider Timber race at Elkridge-Harford Point-to-Point. In his last start of 2006, Mr. Bombastic won the New Jersey Hunt Cup at Far Hills. Question is can he win this far below the Mason-Dixon line? Jack Fisher trains.

10 to 1 – FIELDS OF OMAGH – He doesn’t like his races to close together. He won the International Gold Cup in 2005, but then only wandered out of his stable three times in 2006. Ah heck, he just needed some rest. After a cushy five plus months off, Fields of Omagh ($43,800) got his game on and won the open timber race at the Fairfax Hunt Point-to-Point three weeks ago. He is owned and trained by Randy Rouse who knows his stuff.

12 to 1 – SALMO – Salmo ($49,900), pictured right, is another Jack Fisher trainee. He was recently second to Bubble Economy at Middleburg. Last year, he won the Radnor Hunt Cup.

12 to 1 – IRON COUNTRY XMAS – Iron Country Xmas is trained by Doug Fout, and he has won $30,900. ICX was third in The My Lady Manor Stakes and prior to that he won the open Rokeby Bowl at Piedmont. Prior to that, he was on vacation for almost three years. Nice work if you can get it.

15 to 1 – FAPPA FIRE – Last time out Fappa Fire ($29,000), pictured left, beats Bubble Economy, so why doesn’t he have better odds? Excellent question, grasshopper. Seems as Fappa Fire beat Bubble Economy over three miles, but the experts think he won’t cotton to that last mile of the four mile Gold Cup. Sort of like Rosie to Donald Trump, if you get my meaning?

30 to 1 – THE REST OF THE FIELD -- ROSBRIAN, SEEYOUATTHEEVEN, PATRIOT’S PATH, MR. LIBERATOR and J. ALFRED PRUFROCK – Rosbrian ($81,150) hasn’t won yet this year, but was third in the open timber race at Green Spring. Seeyouattheevent ($13,500) has only been out once in 2007, finishing third in a $20,000 timber allowance at the Carolina Cup races. He won two timber races last spring for trainer Jack Fisher and owner Arthur Arundel. Both of those boys know their way around the Gold Cup course, so don’t be fooled.

Patriot's Path has one third in five career starts and $5,350 in earnings. His entry into a $100,000 race is a reach. But his trainer, Bruce Haynes, is no dummy, so the wager is he thinks he will like the distance and the going. Mr. Liberator ($9,000) is another with limited experience. However, this one has at least won a race – the $15,000 maiden timber at My Lady’s Manor. Owner, trainer and rider Conrad Somers has decided to take a swing at the big boys with J. Alfred Prufrock. “J. Al”, as his friends call him, is undefeated in 2007 going three for three. He won the Amateur Highweight Timber race at My Lady’s Manor as well as the Heavy Weight Timber races at Brandywine Hills and Cheshire Point-to-points. Maybe J. Al has a little “Rudy” in him, who knows?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


10. I can’t believe you told me to wear these high heels.
9. I left the car right here…
8. Man, I wish I had a golf cart – they’re chick magnets!
7. Nice hat!
6. The brown horse won the race! (Oh yeah, they’re all brown.)
5. What time is kick off?
4. Gold Cup? I thought this was the Virginia audition for American Idol?
3. I don’t need sunblock. I NEVER get burned.
2. That jockey is cute! Which one? The thin one. (Oh yeah, they’re all thin.)

...and the number one thing you might overhear at Saturday's Virginia Gold Cup:

1. Is that a horse in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


Quick question: How many places can you wear an extravagant hat without looking really silly? As a matter fact, how many parties can you wear a hat to period – and we’re not talking about the batting helmet with a beer can on either side!

The Virginia Gold Cup, like that little race down in Kentucky on the same day – what’s the name of that thing? Oh yeah, the Kentucky Derby, that’s it…Like the Kentucky Derby, the Gold Cup has become a place where hats are considered an important part of the fashion parade. Almost everybody has a hat they never wear because they haven’t found the right opportunity. Eureka! Opportunity found.

So get in that closet and locate that great hat you’ve been saving for a special event, or head out on an expedition in search of a nouveau chapeau. Think outside the hat box, and go for it.

Don’t be shy. Enter the Hat Contest held on Members Hill at 2:15. We know what you’re thinking, “How will I get there if I’m at a tailgate on the North or South Rail, and how will I remember 2:15?” No problem, the ticket takers at Members Hill will let any and all Hat Contest contestants up to Members Hill at the appropriate time. No special ticket required.

As far as remembering the time, you have two options. You can listen to the P.A. announcer, and he will tell you when to come to Members Hill for the contest. Your other option is to write it on your hand, maybe in a foreign language just to be festive. For example, take a Sharpie and across the back of your hand write in French “2:15 Concours de Chapeau.” Or how about in German “2:15 Hutwettbewerb” or in Italian “2:15 Concorso del Cappello.” Look, if you're going for the ultimate conversation starter or reminder go exotic, how about: “2:15 состязание шлема” (Russian) or “2:15 帽子のコンテスト”(Japanese).

The contest has several categories – best looking, most outrageous, etc. No, we don't know what #46 was thinking when he got dressed. Who knows?

There’s even a category for kids. If you win, you get a nice prize from Leesburg Premium Outlets.

So grab that great hat, and we will see you on Saturday.


Please help.

While doing research for the post above, we made an unfortunate discovery of a group of hat models, several of which are pictured here. It seems as though these poor waif-like creatures are in desperate need of 1) some food, 2) some sun, and 3) some help with their makeup. If you visit web pages that sell these hats, you will see hundreds of these pale, pencil thin, hard working models.

Should you see any of these poor unfortunates ladies wandering about on Saturday at the Gold Cup, please take a moment to stop and give them 1) a ham biscuit, and 2) some eyeliner and lipstick.

It’s frightening to think about how many pizzas have gone to waste just so this mannequinesque group can remain gainfully employed.