Heavy favorite Check the Label endured a well-ridden
last-to-first trip under jockey Ramon Dominguez to take the $150,000 Virginia
Oaks (Gr. III) on Saturday at Colonial Downs.
After breaking outward and lacking speed along the rail
through the opening furlongs, run in a time of 51.82 set by frontrunner Kilmore
Quay, Graham Motion’s Check the Label quickly advanced around the far turn before
splitting rivals at the three sixteenths pole to draw clear by 2 ¾ lengths
under mild urging. Kilmore Quay, who held clear past the eighth pole, finished
well for the place, with In the Rough running an even third in the one and one
eighth mile turf race for three year old fillies.
Said winning jockey Ramon Dominguez, “I wasn’t really
planning on being last and the circumstances led me to be where I was. I was
very happy with the way she (Check the Label) was taking me throughout the
whole race and I’m very impressed with the way she finished off, especially
after knowing that they wouldn’t last long in front.”
Graham Motion, who conditions the three year old Stormin’
Fever filly for owner Brereton C. Jones, held his breath through the opening
panels but was quickly relieved as the filly turned for home. “I couldn’t
believe, as far back as she was, how easily she won today in the end…she’s
definitely getting better and better every race.”
Motion hopes to take Check the Label, who most recently won
both the Grade III Appalachian and Grade II Sands Point, to the Grade I Queen
Elizabeth in the fall. “Mr. and Mrs. Jones are from Kentucky so that would be a nice place to
aim for,” said Motion.
Rounding out the field of the Virginia Oaks, which was run
in a time of 1:51.85, were Midway Holiday, Martita Sangrita, Jungle Tale,
Another Smokey, and Frances Gardner.
Preceding the Virginia Oaks was the $50,000 Kitten’s Joy and
two stakes races for two year old Thoroughbreds. Vanquisher and Rosemary
Homeister, Jr. took a thrilling Kitten’s Joy by a neck over Target Sighted and
March to Victory, while Winslet and Z Appeal won the Tippett and Chenery Stakes