By Dave Zenner – Fields for five turf stakes that will showcase Virginia-bred, -sired and -certified horses are set to go Saturday, Sept. 2 in the Commonwealth Champions Day program at Colonial Downs. A total of $725,000 in purse money will be up for grabs between the five. Four of the $150,000 stakes – the Camptown, Bert Allen, Meadow Stable and Nellie Mae Cox – are open to horses in all three categories while the $125,000 Jamestown is sole for Virginia-bred and -sired 2-year-olds.
The top three finishers in the 2022 Camptown return as part of a full field of 12 fillies and mares in the 2023 edition which will be contested at 5½ furlongs. Defending champion recently was a close second in the Jameela Stakes at Laurel July 1 and The Very One Stakes at Pimlico May 19 for trainer Michael Trombetta.
DARRS Inc.’s Rambert finished second to Spun Glass in 2022 and has won two of three since in expanding on a consistent career. The Michael Stidham trainee has three wins and four seconds in eight starts. Mary Slade’s Island Philo, third in last year’s Camptown, leaves from gate position one in the rematch.
The runner-up in last year’s Nellie Mae Cox Stakes and the top three finishers from the current meet’s Brookmeade Stakes are in a field of twelve fillies and mares who will vie 1-1/16 miles in the Nellie Mae Cox.
O’Sullivan Farms’ Unruly Julie lost by a nose to Tass in a thrilling 2022 edition. The 7-year-old The Factor mare is conditioned by Javier Contreras and is fresh off a third-place finish in a $90,000 allowance at Colonial August 2.
Country Life Farm’s Galilei, Susan Moulton’s Tufani and Larry Johnson’s Continentalcongres finished one-two-three in the July 15 Brookmeade. Three-year-old Distorted Humor filly Tufani had back-to-back wins leading up to the Brookmeade while Continentalcongres powered home to an 11-length allowance score at Colonial three weeks afterwards.
Dewberry Thoroughbred’s Princess Theorem enters with the most stakes experience of the dozen. The 5-year-old Nyquist mare chocked up respective third- and fourth-place finishes in a pair of G3 stakes earlier this year in the Honey Fox at Gulfstream and the Galorette at Pimlico.
The Bert Allen Stakes attracted six entries including Jeremy Brooks’ Wow Whata Summer who won last year’s G2 Penn Mile Stakes and later competed in the G3 Virginia Derby where he finished ninth. The 4-year-old Summer Front gelding took fourth in Colonial’s Kitten’s Joy Stakes as a 2-year-old.
Also entered are a pair of horses which have racked up three wins each at Colonial – DARRS’ Palio and Reilley McDonald’s Passion Play. The former is fresh off a turf allowance win in New Kent August 2 while the latter captured the Allen Stakes in 2021. The Bert Allen will be contested 1-1/16 miles as the second race.
A field of seven older runners will battle in the Meadow Stable Stakes, a 5½-furlong sprint, including the top two finishers from the 2022 renewal –Boldor and trainer Madison Meyers’ Grateful Bred. The former is owned by Ed Orr and Susie Orr and has reached the winners circle in two other Virginia-bred stakes – the 2019 and 2021 editions of the Punch Line. The latter won the Meadow Stable Stakes in 2021 and was a runner-up in last year’s Van Clief.
Capping off the stakes five-pack is the Jamestown which has drawn eight 2-year-olds that include a mix of six fillies and two colts. Of the eight, two have reached the winners circle so far – Bird Mobberley’s Low Mileage and Mary Lightner’s Afterneath. The first, a Mineshaft filly, registered a maiden special weight victory on the dirt May 5 at Laurel while the latter won a maiden claiming race over Colonial’s turf August 11.