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.

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