By Tod Marks
Ohrstrom, Valentine, Foley team up for thrilling maiden score
Hot jockey Barry Foley continued his winning ways in the first of two NSA jump races today at Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va.
Teaming up with owner Jacqueline Ohrstrom and trainer Richard Valentine, Foley notched his third win of the summer season, aboard Connagh’s Quay, a son of Flintshire, bred in Kentucky by Juddmonte.
For most of the 2 1/4-mile, $40,000 maiden hurdle restricted to four-year-olds, Connagh’s Quay sat in a stalking position, third behind Michael Smith’s Wrestlingwithrae (Tom Garner) and Buttonwood Farm’s Sa’ad (Parker Hendriks). The duo played cat and mouse, battling for the lead, until reaching the far turn the final time around the course.
Under Foley, Connagh’s Quay asserted himself heading into the final turn, moving quickly on the inside, and drawing clear in mid stretch by a wide margin nearing the final furlong.
That’s when Del Rio Racing’s Pacifist, ridden by Bernie Dalton for trainer-wife, Kate, made a big move on the outside, closing stoutly with every stride, coming up about a half-length short of Connagh’s Quay at the wire. South Branch Equine’s Robert’s Luxury, trained and ridden by Sean McDermott, put in a powerful effort, too, rallying strongly to finish behind Robert’s Luxury by a neck.
Foley has had a great summer season, winning three races, to date, including the Jonathan Kiser novice stakes on Howyabud at Saratoga on Aug. 3. In addition, he finished second, beaten a neck, by Down Royal in the Grade 1 AP Smithwick at Saratoga last month.
Who’s Counting, McDermott overpower field in handicap
Trainer-rider Sean McDermott, who finished a close third in the opener at Colonial Downs, got the job done in the second of two hurdle races on today’s card — a $35,000 handicap for horses rated at 115 or less — gliding off to an easy victory aboard South Branch Equine’s Who’s Counting.
Coming off a score in a starter allowance on the flat over Colonial’s turf course on July 18, the four-year-old Maryland-bred, was primed and ready to go in his third start over hurdles.
Under Jamie Bargary, Clarke Ohrstrom’s Mr. Bridger, trained by Laird George, took charge from the start of the 2 1/4-mile race over nine fences, with Paul and Molly Willis’ New Appointment (Parker Hendriks) in pursuit. For much of the going, the rest of the five-horse field was strung out.
Mr. Bridger maintained a commanding lead going up the backside the final time, widening his margin with every stride.
But that advantage started to shrink turning for home, as New Appointment and Who’s Counting menaced the leader. Without moving a muscle, McDermott guided Who’s Counting to the front, drawing off with complete authority while geared down by about four lengths. At the sixteenth pole, McDermott took a quick peek at the competition over his right shoulder, but by that time the race was pretty much over. Mr. Bridger hung tough and held off New Appointment for the place spot.
The replay of both races can be watched here: https://youtu.be/ydYutpLqoH0