Colonial Downs Picks: Trio From Penn Mile Face Off Again in Virginia Derby

A field of 10 will head to the gate Saturday night in the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs (photo credit:

The top three finishers from the inaugural running of the Penn Mile will square off again on Saturday when a field of 10 head to the gate at Colonial Downs in the $500,000 Virginia Derby (G2).

The race is the marquee event of the meeting at the New Kent, Va. track and anchors an outstanding 12-race card that features four supporting stakes.

It does not seem like Colonial Downs has been around that long, but this will be the 16th running of the Virginia Derby, and the race quickly became a stellar race for three-year-olds on the turf. Among the previous winners are Kitten’s Joy, English Channel, and Gio Ponti.

Kitten’s Joy won the race in 2004 and will be well represented in this year’s running as three of his sons will be in action.

Wesley Ward will send out Redwood Kitten (10-1) who won the James Murphy at Pimlico in his last outing. Todd Pletcher, who has won this race twice (Red Giant in 2007 and English Channel in 2005) will saddle Charming Kitten (7-2) who was second in the Penn Mile.

Trainer Mike Maker will send out Fear the Kitten (15-1), who is winless in six starts this year on poly and dirt and is making his first career start on turf.

The card gets underway at 5:00 ET and also features the $150,000 Virginia Oaks (G3) for three-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

It is the final weekend of action at Belmont Park and Hollywood Park and there is no shortage of stakes action.

At Belmont Park a field of eight goes to the post in the $600,000 Man o’ War (G1) at 1 3/8 miles on turf. The morning line favorite is the Shug McGaughey trained Boisterous (9-5), who is coming off a victory in the Monmouth (G2) on June 9.

Hollywood Park has four stakes carded for the last Saturday of their meeting including the $350,000 American Oaks (G1) for three-year-old fillies.

The supporting features on an outstanding wagering card are the $200,000 A Gleam Handicap (G2) for older fillies and mares at seven furlongs and a pair of six furlong races for two-year-olds, the $150,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship and the $150,000 Landaluce for fillies.

Along with Arlington Million Preview Day and the $300,000 Delaware Oaks (G3) at Delaware Park, Saturday’s horse betting action makes for a great way to warm up for next week when both Del Mar and Saratoga open.

Let’s head out to Colonial Downs for Saturday’s featured race of the day:


Colonial Downs Race 7 The Virginia Derby (G2) Post time 8:12 ET

5 Jack Milton   4-1

9 Fear the Kitten   15-1

4 Rydilluc   9-5

3 Charming Kitten   7-2

Jack Milton is one of three in here exiting the inaugural running of the Penn  Mile at Penn National on June 1, running a good third to the morning line favorite here Rydilluc, beaten ¾ of a length for the top spot and getting beat out of the photo for the runner up spot by Charming Kitten. The Todd Pletcher trainee was up fairly close to the lead, came with a three wide bid and finished up well and looks as if he is going to be able to handle the extra ground here and turn the tables. Two back he won the Transylvania (G3) at Keeneland by a neck in a game effort in his stakes debut. The runner up Up With the Birds came out of that race to win the Marine at Woodbine and then run a good second in the Queen’s Plate. The third place finisher Redwood Kitten came out of the race to win the James Murphy at Pimlico in his next outing and is also in the field here. John Velazquez sticks here and this guy still looks as if he still has some upside. His is by War Front out of a Forty Nine mare that also dropped turf stakes winner Peace Preserver ($261,126).

Fear the Kitten is one of three “Kittens” in here by sire Kitten’s Joy, who won this race in 2004 and this colt is going to be the biggest price of the trio. He was claimed for just $40,000 in his debut away from trainer Wayne Catalano and owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. He landed with Mike Maker this year and went down the Triple Crown trail. He has won on poly and dirt and this is his turf debut. He certainly is bred to like grass, out of a Dynaformer mare that has dropped two other dirt winners but no turf winners to date. The colt is going to be running late and should get a good pace set up as there is enough early speed signed up in here.

Rydilluc is perfect in four starts on turf, winning the Penn Mile last out. His only losses where in his debut on dirt last fall and a fourth place finish on poly in the Blue Grass (G1) where he set the early fractions and did not have enough left late, weakening to finish fourth but only beaten 1 ¾ lengths for the top spot. The question is whether he is going to be able to handle the extra ground here and at a light price. He is out of the stakes winner Swift and Classy ($61,770) who was perfect in three starts winning the What a Summer at six furlongs in the last start of her abbreviated career. She has dropped four other winners including stakes winner Gold Wonder ($188,878). The colt is going to be tough here but is going to be a short price.


WIN: Jack Milton to win at 3-1 or better.

EXACTA: 5,9 / 3,4,5,9

TRIFECTA: 5,9 / 3,4,5,9 / 3,4,5,6,9



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