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?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pictures Of The Day

The field heads into the first turn during the 88th $300,000 Black Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 18, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Shannon Casey, of Marshall, Va., watches the action at Pimlico Race Course, Friday, May 18, 2012, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Virginia-bred Bodemeister gets a bath prior to running in today's $1 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. (Patrick Smith/Reuters)
The field races down the backstretch during the 42nd Pimlico Special at Pimlico in Baltimore, May 18.  (Bill Frakes/Sports Illustrated)

Mike Hendrick, of Baltimore, moves through the grandstand area at Pimlico Race Course, Friday, May 18, 2012.  If you know Baltimore or Orioles baseball, you know his inspiration for the hat! (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Virginia's Bodemeister Morning Line Favorite For Preakness

By Jack Shinar/The

(Garry Jones/AP Photo)
(Virginia-bred) Bodemeister, runner-up in the Kentucky Derby, has been made the 8-5 morning line favorite for the Preakness Stakes on Saturday and will break from post 7.

Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another was made the 5-2 second choice. He breaks from post 9 in the field of 11 entered for the Preakness. Four of the top five finishers in the Derby are in the field. Six Derby contestants were entered for the second jewel of the Triple Crown with five newcomers.

Post positions were drawn Wednesday night at Pimlico Race Course, which hosts the 1 3/16-mile event for 3-year-olds that was inaugurated in 1873. The field is the smallest since 2007, when Curlin beat Derby winner Street Sense in a nine-horse field.

A win would give I'll Have Another a chance to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 in the Belmont Stakes on June 9.

With all the contenders drawing favorably in the relatively small field, there were few complaints from horsemen afterward.

Bodemeister, who was sent off the slight 4-1 favorite for the Derby, can give trainer Bob Baffert his sixth Preakness victory and his first since Lookin At Lucky won the race in 2010.

Baffert was not present at the draw but later said, "I think it's a good post. With him, anything in the middle would have been fine. In the Preakness, you just don't want to be stuck down on the inside, where you have to use your horse a little bit.
"The Derby winner drew well also. Everybody is in a good post."

Bodemeister set one of the quickest tempos in Kentucky Derby history (:22.32, :45.39, 1:09.80 for the first six furlongs) last Saturday with Mike Smith aboard and led by three lengths in the stretch. But he could not fend off the determined challenge from 15-1 shot I'll Have Another, who reeled in the leader under little known jockey Mario Gutierrez near the sixteenth pole and drew clear for a 1 1/2-length triumph.

The Southern California-based colts figure to dominate the Preakness wagering, though strong support can also be expected for Went the Day Well and Creative Cause, listed as 6-1 co-third choices on Pimlico oddsmaker Frank Carulli's morning line.

Bodemeister is expected to have a little easier time of it on the front end this time with less early speed in the lineup on a track that is considered kinder to front-runners than Churchill Downs. The early Preakness choice's biggest win came in the Arkansas Derby April 14 in front-running style by 9 1/2 lengths at Oaklawn Park for owners Zayat Stables and Mike and Tiffany Moreno.

To read more, click here

(Editor's Note: Bodemeister was bred in Virginia by Audley Farm in Berryville.  He was sold to his current owner at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale as part of Audley's annual yearling consignment.)

Pictures Of The Day

Runners kick up the heavy going at Chester racecourse on May 10, 2012 in Chester, England. (Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)
Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness Stakes hopeful I'll Have Another checks out the people watching him outside his barn at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md., Wednesday, May 16, 2012. The Preakness horse race will take place Saturday at Pimlico. (AP Photo/Garry Jones)
The field for Saturday’s Preakness, the second jewel in horse racing’s Triple Crown. (AP Photo/Garry Jones)

James Doyle riding Secret Witness (L, orange) win The William Birch & Sons Construction Stakes at York racecourse on May 16, 2012 in York, England.
(Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Incomplete Wins The 2012 Virginia Gold Cup

National Steeplechase Association: Robert A. Kinsley’s Incomplete pulled away from rival Bubble Economy and then turned back a late challenge from G’day G’day to win the 87th running of the $75,000 Virginia Gold Cup at Great Meadow race course in The Plains on Saturday, May 5.

Ridden by Joey Elliott, Incomplete finished three-quarters of a length ahead of Magalen O. Bryant’s G’day G’day, who in turn was two lengths clear of Guts for Garters, who was a supplemental entry to the Virginia timber classic. Arcadia Stable’s Bubble Economy, who had won the 2010 Virginia Gold Cup en route to his third National Steeplechase Association timber championship, finished fourth, and Alfred C. Griffin Jr.’s Aero was fifth. The other two starters, Yin Yang and Voler Bar Nuit, were pulled up.

Irish-bred Guts for Garters set the pace in the middle stages of the race under Darren Nagle, while Incomplete and Bubble Economy stalked him. FOXY Stable’s Guts for Garters maintained his lead at the second to last fence, but Incomplete moved past him and set sail for the finish line. G’day G’day came flying at the end under Carl Rafter to grab the place spot as Guts for Garters held on for third. Incomplete ran the Virginia Gold Cup’s four miles in 8:38.80 on firm turf.
(Douglas Lees Photo)
Trained by Ann Stewart, Incomplete kept his perfect 2012 record intact with his second victory over the Great Meadow course in six months. He won the International Gold Cup at the Virginia course on Oct. 15 and then ran second in the New Jersey Hunt Cup at Far Hills a week later. He started the current season with a 1 3/4-length victory over Bubble Economy in the My Lady’s Manor in Monkton, Md., on April 15. Stewart said immediately after the race that the Virginia Gold Cup was his next target. The Virginia Gold Cup victory raised his 2012 earnings to $61,000.

G’day G’day entered the Virginia Gold Cup on a two-race winning streak. Trained by Doug Fout, he had won the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup on Nov. 6 and then claimed the Middleburg Hunt Cup over Aero, also trained by Fout, on April 21.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Happy Gold Cup!

(Douglas Lees)

(Mark Humphrey/AP Photo)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Come Early, Big Crowd Expected Tomorrow

(Photo courtesy of Commonwealth Event Blog)
As of 8:40 this morning, there were exactly two tailgate spots left for Saturday’s Virginia Gold Cup.  If you don’t have your tickets yet, you need to get moving NOW.

If you do, you might plan to go a little early.  

Yesterday, at a little league baseball game, a high ranking Gold Cup official told us (yes, all information exchanges between high ranking officials happen at baseball, lacrosse or soccer games at this time of  year!), that Saturday’s crowd would be the largest “post recession” crowd to date.

That’s awesome, and Great Meadow is designed to accommodate you and “50,000 of your closest friends.”

A great day and a big crowd makes for an awesome Gold Cup, but like all major events with a gigantic crowd, a little planning makes the day go smoother.  

So try to arrive a little early...

...And bring that sunscreen.

Pictures Of The Day

Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite Bodemeister gets some exercise at Churchill Downs where he is scheduled to race in Saturday's 138th Kentucky Derby.  Bodemeister was born in Virginia about 30 miles from the Virginia Gold Cup racecourse at Great Meadow.  (Elsa/Getty Images)
Horses jump the Tozer Road jump in Race Six the Flying Horse Bar and Brewery Grand Annual Steeplechase during the Warnambool Grand Annual Steeplechase at Warnambool Racing Club. (Mark Dadswell/Getty Images AsiaPac)
Robert Molloy riding Dinna Latar follows Awakening Dream ridden by Steven Pateman over the Tozer Road jump in Race Six the Flying Horse Bar and Brewery Grand Annual Steeplechase during the Warnambool Grand Annual Steeplechase. (Mark Dadswell/Getty Images AsiaPac)
Jockey Steven Pateman riding Palmero clears the second last on his way to winning Race One the Southern Resort 0-120 Hurdle during the Warnambool Grand Annual Steeplechase at Warnambool Racing Club on May 3, 2012 in Warrnambool, Australia.  (Mark Dadswell/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Water And Sunscreen

Repeat after us, water and sunscreen, water and sunscreen, water and sunscreen, water and sunscreen…

Got it.

No matter how fancy or simple your tailgate or your picnic, you need water and sunscreen.

Even if you are attending a catered party in a tent, you need sunscreen.

Have you been outside today?

Eight Ways To Pick A Gold Cup Winner

(NYRA Photo)
Most Virginia Gold Cup tailgates feature a friendly “game of skill” designed to exchange small monetary amounts between the participants.  The object of the exercise is to correctly pre-determine which horse will win a particular race and to pay an entry fee to enter the game of skill in the name of the chosen horse.

Some people might call this a pool, but since we don’t want to get sideways with the authorities, we will continue to call it a “game of skill.” 

Should such a game be conducted at your parking space, tailgate or tent, how would the non-equine aficionado know which horse might win a particular race?

The answer is you wouldn’t – horses are unpredictable.  Steeplechase races are long and conducted over many large obstacles at a fairly high rate of speed. Suffice to say, things sometimes go wrong, so picking a winner is tricky.

That said, here are some tried and true systems, you can utilize come Saturday.

1. Choose your lucky number. How easy was that?

2. Clamp onto your favorite color.  Jockeys wear brightly colored shirts, called silks, provided by the horses' owners or the race organizers if the owner forgot to bring his silks. (Don’t giggle, it happens.) So choose a hue and hang on.

3. Identify an individual interest. That means look at the program and try to remember something – anything – from this same exercise at past Gold Cups you have attended.

4. Jump for the jockey you like best.  If you don’t know anything about these people, and you probably don’t, just pick a name that sounds like somebody that can bring home a winner.  Jockeys with words like “champ” or “winner” or “best” in their names are good choices.  Jockeys that go by “dude,” “loser” or “crash” aren’t so good.

5. Pick a catchy name.  Obviously, Bubble Economy has rung a bell for everybody over the past three years, so just look for names you can relate to or that seem to be speaking directly to you.  If you have a funky Aunt Betty and you see a horse named Funky Aunt Betty, that’s a sign.

6. Pick the horses pedigree.  If either the mom (dam) or dad (sire) sounds at all familiar, go for it.

7. Go with your gut. It’s not an exact science.  A bunch of horses and riders run around as fast as they can, jumping a bunch of jumps, occasionally ricocheting off one another and trying to get home first, so anything can happen and usually does.

8. Place a bet on every horse in the field.  Your friends won’t like it as it is selfish and boring and does not generate beneficial economic returns, but at least you can say you won!

Have fun!

Here’s The Skinny On The Horses Running In The $75,000 Virginia Gold Cup

INCOMPLETE (Douglas Lees Photo)
INCOMPLETE, 2001 b. g., Press Card--Sioux Lady, by Poker. Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Ann D. Stewart. Jockey: Joey Elliott. 2012 record: 1-1-0-0, $18,000. 2011 record: 5-1-2-0, $45,450. 3-1 odds. Started 2012 with 1 3/4-length victory in the My Lady's Manor in Monkton, Md., on April 14. Won 2011 International Gold Cup and finished second in the New Jersey Hunt Cup. Ran a good second in the 2011 Grand National but fell in the Maryland Hunt Cup.

BUBBLE ECONOMY, 1999 b. g., Rakeen--Buggels, by Vaal Reef. Owner: Arcadia Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie Dowling. 2012 record: 1-0-1-0, $5,400. 7-2 odds. Three-time timber champion (2004, 2008, 2010) returned after 23 months on the sidelines and finished second in the My Lady's Manor, beaten 1 3/4 lengths on April 14. Wrapped up most recent title with two wins in a week, in the 2010 Virginia Gold Cup and the Mason Houghland Memorial at the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville.

YIN YANG, 2002 ch. g., Not for Love--Say It's Cold, by Oh Say. Owner: NoGo Stable. Trainer: William Meister. Jockey: Christopher Read. 2011 record: 2-1-0-0, $6,000. 20-1 odds. Won 2011 John Rush Streett maiden timber but was pulled up in the Mason Houghland Memorial at Iroquois in Nashville. Late scratch from Grand National on April 21.

BUBBLE ECONOMY (Left) (Douglas Lees Photo)
AERO, 2005 b. g., Northern Spur (Ire)--Best Victory (Fr), by Cadoudal. Owner: Alfred C. Griffin Jr. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Jeff Murphy. 2012 record: 1-0-1-0, $3,600. 2011 record: 3-2-0-1, $28,000. 5-1 odds. Started 2012 season with second in the Middleburg Hunt Cup on April 21, beaten 6 3/4 lengths. Ran sparkling race in the National Sporting Library Chronicle Cup to win by six lengths at the Virginia Fall Races in Middleburg on Oct. 1 before second in International Gold Cup. Scored his maiden timber victory at Willowbrook Steeplechase in May.

GUTS FOR GARTERS (IRE), 2003 br. g., Presenting—Askynn, by Beau Sher. Owner: FOXY Stable. Trainer: Sanna Hendriks. Jockey: Darren Nagle. 2012 record: 2-0-1-0, $3,200. 20-1 odds. Finished a close second in the Bejamin H. Murray Memorial amateur allowance timber race at the Grand National on April 21. Started season with a fourth in the John Rush Streett Memorial amateur maiden timber at My Lady’s Manor on April 14. In a tough spot against a seasoned field.

AER) (L) (Susan M. Carter Photo)
VOLER BAR NUIT, 2001 ch. g., Lord Concorde--Don't Ask, by Don's Choice. Owner: Mrs. William D. Class Jr. Trainer: William Meister. Jockey: James Slater. 2012 record: 1-0-0-1, $1,000. 2011 record: 2-0-1-0, $1,350. 15-1 odds. Started 2012 with a third-place finish in the John Rush Streett at My Lady's Manor. Finished second in 2011 John D. Schapiro Memorial at My Lady's Manor. Late scratch from the Maryland Hunt Cup.

G’DAY G’DAY, 2003 b. g., Eastern Echo--Say Farewell, by Second Bar. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Carl Rafter. 2012 record: 1-1-0-0, $12,000. 2011 record: 5-1-1-1, $32,300. 4-1 odds. Strong start to the 2012 campaign with 6 3/4-length victory in the Middleburg Hunt Cup on April 21. Closed 2011 with a win in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. Made up ground to be third in the International Gold Cup on Oct. 15. Homebred finished second to Aero in National Sporting Museum Chronicle Cup at Virginia Fall Races on Oct. 1.

Pictures Of The Day - Kentucky Derby Favorites

Bodemeister takes a spin on Thursday morning in preparation for the 138th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Dullahan trains in preparation for the 138th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Elsa/Getty Images)
Exercise rider Hector Ramos takes Kentucky Derby entrant Gemologist for a workout at Churchill Downs Thursday, May 3, 2012, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Hansen trains on the track in preparation for the 138th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Union Rags trains on the track in preparation for the 138th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Local Horse Kentucky Derby Early Favorite

Bodemeister, who was born in nearby Berryville, Virginia is the "morning line" favorite for Saturday's Kentucky Derby.  Set your DVR.

Breaking from the No.6 post position -- the same post as the last Virginia-bred Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero did in 1993 -- Virginia-bred Bodemeister is the 4-1 morning line for Saturday’s 138th Kentucky Derby.  Bodemeister was bred by Audley Farm in Berryville.

Veteran jockey Mike Smith will ride.  Smith won the Derby on 50-1 shot Giacomo in 2005.

Bodemeister earned the nod from Churchill downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia based on his post position and his impressive 9 1/2  length win in the Arkansas Derby.  Many felt Bedemiester’s win in Little Rock was the most dominating performance of the Derby prep races. 

Union Rags (No.4 post) was a close second choice at 9-2 in a full field of 20 horses. He is trained by Michael Matz, who won the Derby in 2006 with Barbaro.

Wood Memorial winner Gemologist was the third choice at 6-1 and drew the No. 15 post. 
Blue Grass winner Dullahan was the 8-1 fourth choice. He got the No. 5 post, drawing the loudest cheers from his connections.

Two California horses, Creative Cause and Santa Anita Derby winner I'll Have Another, were listed at 12-1.

Hansen, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner, and Daddy Long Legs have the most graded stakes earnings in the field. Hansen leads the list with more than $1.5 million, while Daddy Long Legs has $1.2 million.

If all 20 horses start, the $2,219,600 purse would be the richest since 2005, when the Derby first became a guaranteed $2 million event. The winner earns $1,459,600. Post time is 6:24 p.m. EDT.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bubble Economy Goes For Virginia Gold Cup Triple

From National  Arcadia Stable’s Bubble Economy will be seeking his third victory in the $75,000 Virginia Gold Cup when he starts in the classic four-mile timber steeplechase race on Saturday, May 5. The 87th running of the Virginia Gold Cup will be the highlight of a gala six-race program at Great Meadows in The Plains. First post time is 1:30 p.m.
BUBBLE ECONOMY (Douglas Lees Photo)
The Virginia Gold Cup brings together the top two finishers in Maryland’s first timber classic, the My Lady’s Manor on April 14. Robert A. Kinsley’s Incomplete finished 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Bubble Economy, who was making his first start in 23 months.

Both are veterans of the Great Meadow course. Trained by Ann Stewart, Incomplete won the 2011 International Gold Cup by 2 3/4 lengths on Oct. 15 and finished second in the New Jersey Hunt Cup a week later. Joey Elliott will be aboard for the Virginia Gold Cup.

Bubble Economy has won three National Steeplechase Association timber championships, in 2004, 2008, and 2010. In the latter two years, his championship campaign included victories in the Virginia Gold Cup.

He went to the sidelines after winning the 2010 Mason Houghland Memorial at the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville one week after his Virginia Gold Cup triumph. He came back well in the My Lady’s Manor, and trainer Jack Fisher named Willie Dowling to ride.
Also in the highly competitive Virginia Cup field is Magalen O. Bryant’s G’day G’day, who kicked off his 2012 season with a 6 3/4-length victory in the Middleburg Hunt Cup on April 21. Trained in Middleburg by Doug Fout, G’day G’day closed out the 2011 season with a score in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup against top-quality competition. Carl Rafter has the mount.

Fout also will saddle Alfred C. Griffin Jr.’s Aero, who finished second in the Middleburg Hunt Cup. Last fall, Aero scored a sparkling victory in the National Sporting Museum Chronicle Cup at the Virginia Fall Races in Middleburg before finishing second to Incomplete in the International Gold Cup. Jeff Murphy will ride Aero.
AERO (left) (Douglas Lees Photo)
Veteran timber trainer William Meister entered NoGo Stable’s Yin Yang and Mrs. William D. Class Jr.’s Voler Bar Nuit. Yin Yang would be making his first start of the year, and Voler Bar Nuit has had one outing, a third in the John Rush Streett Memorial amateur maiden timber race at My Lady’s Manor in Monkton. Christopher Read was named aboard Yin Yang, and James Slater will ride Voler Bar Nuit.

Two-time champion trainer Sanna N. Hendriks entered FOXY Stable’s Guts for Garters. The Irish-bred gelding has had two starts this year, a fourth in the Streett followed by a close second in the Benjamin H. Murray Memorial amateur allowance timber race at the Grand National meet in Butler, Md. Darren Nagle was named to ride.

To see all the day's entries, click here.

What Not To Wear, Part 43 (Chartreuse)

At this point, we really shouldn’t need to tell you this, but…
(Mark Nolan/Getty Images)
That said, maybe the crazy lip gloss is sunscreen?  That makes some sense…

Here, models pose backstage ahead of the Magdalena Veleveska show on day two of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia Spring/Summer 2012/13 at the Australia National Maritime Museum on May 1, 2012 in Sydney, Australia.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tommy Lee Jones Wins First Ian Milne Award

No, not the Men In Black version of Tommy Lee Jones, the famous horse guy.

Our Tommy Lee Jones, who has been misidentified for his movie star namesake more than once, tells some good stories about disappointed folks who thought he was that Tommy Lee Jones over the phone, but a different one when he appeared in person...
DORIS, TOMMY LEE and DIANE JONES (Randy Chappell/Facebook)
That said, the famous equine Tommy Lee Jones was recently awarded the first "Ian Milne Award,” a prestigious award honoring professional huntsmen who have been recognized by their peers as exceptional contributors to the sport of foxhunting.  

Way to go, Tommy Lee!

The award was presented by the Masters of Foxhounds Association on Saturday, April 21, 2012 at the Biennial Staff Seminar dinner. Jones has hunted the hounds of the Casanova Hunt with distinction since 1970.

Jones also breeds, owns and trains thoroughbreds from his family’s New Hope Farm. In the heyday of the yearling market, Jones showed yearlings for the likes of Spendthrift Farm and Clay Camp as well.

Along with his wife Diane, Jones also manages the Upperville Colt and Horse Show and the Warrenton Horse Show.  Diane is also the Executive Director of the Virginia Gold Cup.

The award is named for the late Ian Milne, who was the popular huntsman for the Fairfax Hunt (VA).
JONES AT WORK (Randy Chappell/Facebook)

Douglas Lees' Maryland Hunt Cup Photos

The third fence of the Maryland Hunt Cup left to right: Battle Op, Bon Caddo, And The Eagle Flys, Professor Maxwell (white blaze), Haddix (partially obscurred), Private Attack and Volle Nolle.
The thirteenth fence of theMaryland Hunt cup left to right:  And The Eagle Flys (Billy Meister, up), Battle Op (Connor Hankin, up) and Fort Henry(Jackson Roberts, up).
Private Atttack falls in front of the eventual winner Twill Do.
Twill Do and Battle Op battle down the stretch.
Twill Do edges out Battle Op for the win.  

All photos by Douglas Lees.