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HRN Original Blog:
The Dark Horse

War Dancer Takes Photo in Spectacular Virginia Derby Finish

War Dancer 615 X 400 WC
Photo: Chris 'Dark Horse' Sorenson


On a hot and sticky night in New Kent County, Virginia, Kenny McPeek’s War Dancer split foes and edged out Charming Kitten and Jack Milton to take the Virginia Derby in 2:03 and 2/5 seconds at Colonial Downs.
















In the beginning of the race there was no twist to the plot as Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Redwood Kitten went out to the early lead. The lone gelding in the field was ahead by a length or so for most of the race with 5/2 favorite Rydilluc sitting back in second for the first mile. Redwood Kitten set some honest fractions of :24, :48.4, and 1:13.4 on the Secretariat turf course rated as good today after monsoon like conditions hit the track right before race one.

























The horses maintained position throughout the first mile then everything changed around the far turn. Redwood Kitten could not maintain the lead and faded to 5th. Rydilluc has nothing left in the gas tank and stopped, ultimately finishing 8th. However when it comes down to it, this was one of the more exciting stretch battles I’ve seen in a while.


War Dancer was three-wide for most of the race and floated into the four-path at the top of the stretch. Charming Kitten was making a strong move along the rail and just missed while Jack Milton closed hard on the outside after saving ground to create this amazing three-way photo finish! In the end it was War Dancer by a head. Charming Kitten finished second by a head over Jack Milton.


Jockey Alan Garcia noted after the race, “The horse had a good trip and he did all the right things. He won and that was the main thing.” Garcia also said that he “knew” he had the photo at the wire!


Trainer Kenny McPeek who had a tough run with Atigun in the Colonial Turf Cup earlier this year finally breaks through with War Dancer. “The ownership group is a good group of people and they were very patient with this colt.” And for his thoughts on War Dancer, “the mile was too short last time, and he also needs some pace to run at. We have been planning on running at the Virginia Derby for some time. It is an honor to win this race.” Seems like a great investment for $220,000!


McPeek also said that they will be looking towards the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park on Million Day if the horse comes out of the race ok. It’s quite possible that Charming Kitten will also head to the Secretariat Stakes.


War Dancer paid $16.80 to win.


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Older Comments about War Dancer Takes Photo in Spectacular Virginia Derby Finish...

There were quite a few thrilling finishes Sat. night, but the VA Derby was a hell of race!
Dang!! KNEW I should've bet this race! I had WD for the win!!
Chris, congrats on a great Colonial meet! I had 2 out of 3 in that pick 3.

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 (Whoa - it's me - the DARK HORSE)
Greetings and welcome to my "dark" blog!  I have been a fan of horse racing since I was about 12 years old.  Growing up in Minnesota, my dad would take me and my brothers to Canterbury Downs and I would practically beg to go every weekend!!  I made my first "big" score there hitting the win, place, and exacta in the same race at age 14 (pulled in $84 with horses named Railroad Red and Racers Dream!).  I even had a poster in my bedroom of Lost Code winning the 1987 St. Paul Derby!
While finishing school in Chicago, I spent every possible moment at Arlington Park with my dad.  We took the time to develop computer programs (on the ever popular Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS) to try to find patterns and handicap races more accurately.  My dad taught me a lot about handicapping races, paying particular attention to class moves!

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