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, August 28, 2009


Virginians Jim Carter, and his wife Melinda, own Randleston Farm in Bluemont. They started out some years ago with the modest goal of maintaining a few broodmares, but, as often happens, the barn filled up with a string of flat runners and steeplechasers.

How fortuitous.

Yesterday, the Carters and Virginia-based trainer Jimmy Day of Berryville teamed up with Spy In The Sky and jockey Liam McVicar to upset the $100,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Gr.I at Saratoga.

In doing so, all they had to do was beat a bunch of stakes winners trained by some of the best trainers to ever saddle a jumper at the Spa (or anywhere else, for that matter). Rounding out the order of finish were Sermon of Love (Jonathan Sheppard), Dalucci (Janet Elliot), Swagger Stick (Jack Fisher), Mixed Up (Johathan Sheppard) and Slip Away (Tommy Voss). You Gold Cup fans know all about that Fisher guy...

Unfortunately, the victorious owner-trainer trio wasn’t there to witness the Grade I win, but if you heard an uproar coming from NW Virginia at around 2:10 p.m. yesterday, odds are it was the Carters and Days cheering him home via TVG. Was that “I Love New York” we heard wafting off the Blue Ridge and on down Piedmont way?

The 10 ¼ length victory paid $43.00 for the longest shot in the field as the 9-5 favorite Slip Away was pulled up and highweight Mixed Up struggled home last of five finishers.

McVicar, a Scottish-born apprentice who works for the Day stable in Virginia, said, “I didn’t want to hit the front too early because I had a ton of horse all the way around. I was trying to bring him back, hold him for 10 or 12 strides on the turn. Then it was time to kick on and win the race.”

(NYRA Photos)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Good news – only 73 more days until the International Gold Cup on October 17 at Great Meadow.

Until then, we will keep you up to date on some other horse races…some on the flat and some over jumps.

You may recall that prior to the spring Gold Cup, we were talking about a horse named Quality Road who was born just down the road from Great Meadow. He had a foot injury and missed the Kentucky Derby, but he’s back.

Back with a vengeance…


It didn't look like a track record, but it was...

And just when it appeared there wasn't a three-year-old in the country who could run with super-filly Rachel Alexandra, Edward P. Evans' Virginia-bred Quality Road returned from a four-month hiatus to register a record-setting 2 1/4-length victory over Capt. Candyman Can in Monday's $150,000 Amsterdam Stakes Gr.II at Saratoga.

Quality Road, the likely favorite in this year's Kentucky Derby before being sidelined by reoccurring quarter cracks, covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:13.45.

The timer stopped him at 1:07.22 for six furlongs, a time so fast that folks had to wonder if it was correct. The track record for six furlongs at Saratoga is a long-standing 1:08 by Virginia-connected Spanish Riddle. The officials went back and hand timed the race and confirmed the time.

His final time shattered the course record set by Topsider in 1979 by nearly a full second. Quality Road, by Elusive Quality out Kobla by Strawberry Road, who was transferred from trainer Jimmy Jerkens to Todd Pletcher's barn, set the record despite stumbling at the start and racing wide throughout the race.

Simply put, Quality Road, who is a very cool customer pre-race, is so fast he doesn't look fast.
"Any time you run a horse for the first time with his potential, you want everything to go well, and we were hoping he'd run just as well for us as he had for Jimmy," said Pletcher. "He stumbled at the start and it took him a while to recover and get the position we'd hoped he'd be in. From there, he got the trip.

"Racing wide was not a concern," Pletcher added, "because with a big horse and the long stride he has, you want to let him do his thing and not have anything get in his way."
Pletcher has said all along that he was using the Amsterdam as a stepping-stone to the Grade 1 Travers, and a potential matchup with Rachel Alexandra.

"I have tremendous respect for the filly, she's a phenomenon," said Pletcher, whose colt Munnings finished third to Rachel Alexandra the previous afternoon in the Haskell. "With a stable our size, chances are we're going to run into her somewhere along the line, and if we do, we'd like it to be with our best horse."