Sailor's Cap Notches Runaway Win at Rain-Soaked, Grade III Colonial Turf Cup

By John Scheinman
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, June 23, 2008

NEW KENT, Va., June 21 -- Editor's Note: Because of a computer error, the story about Saturday's race at Colonial Downs that appeared in the Sunday, June 22, Sports section referred to last year's race. The correct story appears below.

When the rains came in waves Saturday, accompanied by thunder and lightning, the owners in the Team Valor International syndicate at Colonial Downs couldn't have been happier.

In a field of 3-year-olds either untested on turf or unproven on soft ground, Team Valor's Sailor's Cap stood out, having run two straight powerful races on yielding courses in his most recent starts. The crowd of 4,557 at the track, which enjoyed sunshine most of the afternoon, sought cover inside the grandstand and bet Sailor's Cap down to 3-1 favoritism to win the Grade III $600,000 Colonial Turf Cup.

With a swift, sweeping move five wide on the far turn, Sailor's Cap delivered under jockey Alan Garcia, pulling away in the stretch to easily win the first leg of the Grand Slam of Grass series by 6 3/4 lengths.

Before the race, Colonial Downs General Manager Ian Woolnough asked the jockeys if they thought the soaked turf course was still safe for racing. Garcia, who is based in New York, couldn't wait to get out there.

"I was confident," said Garcia, who rode Da' Tara to an upset victory two weeks ago in the Belmont Stakes. "The owners said he loved that kind of soft course."

After Sailor's Cap had won the 1 3/16 -mile race in 2 minutes 4.42 seconds, the partners in the colt's ownership submitted to a drenching to collect the trophy in the winner's circle.

"It was worth it to get soaked like this," said Nick Benmeir, whose group took down the first prize of $360,000. "The wetter it got, the more we liked it. The last two times he ran were on wet tracks, and he was brilliant. We had the rider we wanted, and he was brilliant."

Even with the purse for the Colonial Turf Cup reduced from $750,000 this year, the race attracted several noted 3-year-olds, including Lane's End Stakes winner Adriano; Court Vision, part-owned by IEAH Stables, the team behind Big Brown; and Preakness entrant Kentucky Bear.

When the gate opened, jockey Elvis Trujillo sent Kentucky Bear, in his first start on grass, to the lead, and they opened up a 4 1/2 -length gap on Nistle's Crunch after a half-mile in a slow 50.91 seconds.

Garcia, meantime, decided the horse to follow was the second favorite, Adriano, who broke sharply from the gate under jockey Edgar Prado.

When the field reached the far turn, Prado moved with Adriano, and Garcia knew it was time to go with Sailor's Cap.

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