Friday, September 11, 2009

Mixed-up Colonial card sounds like fun to me

Colonial Downs on Sunday will host a unique race card: Eight harness races over the main track, followed by a pair of steeplechase races with a turf allowance on the flat in-between.

The card begins at 1 p.m., with the harness races including a pair of first-leg divisions of the Emergency Squads of Virginia late-closer trotting series. The series continues every Sunday in September, leading up to a mile-and-a-quarter final on Oct. 4.

After the harness races conclude, a maiden-claiming race for steeplechasers will take place over the turf course. Augustin Stable's Beech Cay has been installed as the 6/5 morning-line favorite in an eight-horse field, with a $10,000 total purse on the line.

Next, a thoroughbred allowance for 3-year-olds and up will be held at 12 furlongs on the flat. A dozen are entered to run, perhaps with a walk-up start. Colonial reports the allowance flat race will start "in the same manner jumpers do." The early favorite at 3/1 is Jack Fisher's Seer, who is 2-for-2 lifetime at Colonial and a stakes-winner at Monmouth over jumps. 

Last on the card is another steeplechase race, a claimer with a $15,000 purse for a field of six. Arch Kinglsey's 7-year-old Sunshine Numbers is the 8/5 favorite on the morning line.

A betting oddity on the card will be the "Mixed Breed Pick-3," with bettors trying to hit the winner in Race 8 among harness horses, Race 9 over jumps and Race 10 on the flat.

This sounds like a fun day at the races. I've never attended harness racing, but would like to shake loose and get up to Colonial this fall and get my first up-close gander at the standardbreds. This would be a great opportunity -- although knee-deep grass in my back yard also beckons.

Making things more affordable, Colonial is offering a downloadable PDF coupon good for a quartet of admission tickets, four programs, four tip-sheets, four hot dogs, four soft drinks and two Mr. Potato Head racing figurines for a paltry $16. After opening weekend (when the deal is good on Saturday, that is, tomorrow, too) the package will apparently be available every Sunday through Nov. 1 -- so iff'n three "anybodies" want to join up with me some Sunday and cash in on the value, drop me a line.

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