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?

Friday, May 15, 2009


What do the Virginia Gold Cup and infield party at the Preakness have in common. Well, not as much as you might think and the similarities draw smaller starting tomorrow.

Now, mind you, both have in common a great party, a great picnic and a great horse race, but after that the paths divide. To be politically correct, we’ll say it’s a matter of “style points.” However, another thing both events share is the tradition of B.Y.O.B.

While the Gold Cup is a bit more polished and sophisticated, the Preakness infield has long been famous for one of the biggest and most raucous parties in horse racing. Participants in this time honored tradition are worried that the glory days may be over. Gone are the morning lacrosse game and scaffolding which allowed those so inclined a view of more than the Preakness horses’ ears and the jockeys’ caps assuming they could scale their creation by late afternoon.

But the party has long been fueled by Pimlico’s policy of BYOB. Not anymore. Josh Bacott of the popular sport’s blog Joe Sports Fan had this to say:

For the first time in recent memory, those grizzled horse racing fans that make up the infield crowd at Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course on Preakness day will not be allowed to bring in their most effective handicapping tool: booze.
If the Preakness had one clear-cut advantage over its more famous counterpart in Kentucky, it was that those who chose to brave the infield in Pimlico were rewarded with a free pass to haul in as much alcohol as they could shove into a cooler. While both the Derby and the Preakness still managed to crank out their fair share of YouTube clips featuring the time-honored tradition of port-a-racing, it remained a safe bet to assume that the Preakness was topping the trifecta in the race to see which Triple Crown event could produce more drunken meatheads.

To read the blog post, click here.

Sometimes, the more things change, the more things don’t stay the same…

Monday, May 4, 2009


We're pretty sure there is a completely reasonable explanation for this but only the folks at Falcon Racing know what it is!

(Photo by Jamie Sneed via Amanda Choby/Facebook)


Nobody was complaining about the weather on Saturday simply because it wasn’t raining. Of course, it would be a bit better if it were seventy and sunny, but the clouds did nothing to deter the picnic, the party or the horse racing.

A balmy 60 degrees at 1:30 when the first race was run, the day made a perfect display of one of our favorite Virginia Gold Cup phenomenons. That would be the “I Bought This Outfit, I’m Gonna Wear It No Matter What The Weather” syndrome.

Kudos to the folks who stuck with their fashion choice, weather be damned. Sun dress, heels, sixty, cloudy – no problem, all ahead, full!

We couldn’t help but note that a lot of the locals went a bit more casual in anticipation of an afternoon rain, but all were delighted when the weather held.

Next year, we guarantee sunshine.

Photo by John Arundel -

Sunday, May 3, 2009


On paper, yesterday's $75,000 84th Virginia Gold Cup looked to be between two horses -- the 2007 winner Salmo and the 2008 winner Bubble Economy.

Out on the Great Meadow race course, the timber classic played out as anticipated as Salmo jumped beautifully and had enough left to hold off defending champion Bubble Economy down the stretch.

Salmo also won the race in 2007 when trained by Jack Fisher and ridden by Chip Miller. The 13-year-old son of Northern Baby gave owner Irv Naylor his third victory in the timber stakes. Erin Go Bragh was third.

Salmo was bred in Virginia by Sara and Bruce Collette of Pageland Farm in Casanova, VA. Coincidentally, the Collette's farm is next door to Spring Hill Farm where top three-year-old and injury Kentucky Derby contender Quality Road was born.

Irv Naylor owns the Gold Cup winner who is trained by Desmond Fogarty and who was ridden to victory by Darren Nagle.

For complete results of all the Gold Cup races, click here.

(Photo by Douglas Lees, 2007)

Friday, May 1, 2009


Well, it looks like the local weather wags have nailed the forecast pictured here, and it’s going to be another picture perfect day the 84th running of the Virginia Gold Cup.

Ok, “perfect” if the race was held in Charleston, SC…

In reality, the forecast is for lots of clouds, temps in the sixties and chance of showers, but who really cares?

Let’s talk about the weather basics. First off, it’s not cold and isn’t that the critical point?

Cold is bad, warm is good. It’s warm. Game over.

There have been plenty of Gold Cup races and Gold Cup picnics/parties held under some clouds, and, quite frankly, they can be the best ones. Certainly takes that smelly sunscreen out of play…
So dress appropriately, and come have fun!

All ahead, full!


Who knows?

Every year there are horses that we would categorize as “marginal” Kentucky Derby contenders. This year that group includes (in post position order):

WEST SIDE BERNIE (#1 – second to I Want Revenge. The winner fell down coming out of the gate, got blocked in once if not twice, and still beat him. Don’t think the extra furlong will help.)

ADVICE (#4 – Surprise winner of the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland is either improving daily or his Derby prep win was a fluke. Who knows? As Wayne Lukas once said “People have opinions, the horses have the facts.”

HOLD ME BACK (#5 – Has the connections and the pedigree and was second in the Blue Grass Stakes, a major Derby prep.)

REGAL RANSOM (#10 – Upset winner of the United Emirates Derby which means he’s the upset winner of the United Emirates Derby. Good luck figuring that out.)

CHOCOLATE CANDY (#13 – Second to Pioneerof The Nile in the Santa Anita Derby (polytrack), but has never run on good old fashioned dirt.

Which leads us to the real contenders, and they are horses who have either won or been closely placed in the major Kentucky Derby prep races. In post position order, they are:

MUSKET MAN (#2 – Second to I Want Revenge last out)

FRIESAN FIRE (#6 – Won three Derby prep stakes in Louisiana. Not great, but good enough)

PAPA CLEM (#7 – Won the Arkansas Derby)

GENERAL QUARTERS (#12 – Won the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland)

I WANT REVENGE (#13 – Won the Gotham Stakes by 8 ½ lengths and then won the Wood Memorial Stakes impressively after stumbling badly from the gate)

DUNKIRK (#15 – A $3.7 million yearling who ran an impressive second to Quality Road in the Florida Derby over a speed-favoring track most likely not to his liking.)

PIONEEROF THE NILE (#16 – Won the Santa Anita Derby - pictured)

Picks: Pioneerof The Nile, Dunkirk, Friesan Fire