07/13/2011 3:40PM

Colonial Downs: Banned heads deep Virginia Derby

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Justin N. Lane
Banned heads a field of 12 in Saturday's Grade 2, $600,000 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs.

Coming off two graded stakes victories utilizing distinctively different running styles, Banned heads a field of 12 3-year-old turf runners that were entered Wednesday for a contentious renewal of Saturday’s Grade 2, $600,000 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs.

The Virginia Derby, run at 1 1/4 miles, tops a 14-race card that begins at 5 p.m. The Virginia Derby will go as the eighth race, with a post of 8:05 p.m.

Banned, a son of 2004 Virginia Derby winner Kitten’s Joy, came from 12 lengths back to win the Grade 2 American Turf over 11 opponents at Churchill Downs on May 6. Six weeks later, in the Grade 3 Jefferson Cup also at Churchill, Banned was within two lengths of the lead in a four-horse field and won by two.

“There was 10 lengths difference in the pace, so there was 10 lengths difference with where he was at,” said Tom Proctor, who trains Banned for Glen Hill Farm. “You don’t want to be 10 lengths out of it when they go 49 and change. That’s also [a product of] not getting covered up. Hopefully, he’ll get a spot and be comfortable, and when the running starts he’ll be ready to go.”

Banned will break from post 7 under Jose Lezcano.

Banned and his 11 rivals in the Virginia Derby will have to answer the distance question as they all will be trying 1 1/4 miles for the first time.

Proctor shipped Banned to Colonial Downs in time to get acclimated to the heat of Virginia, and he even got a workout over the turf course, going six furlongs in 1:16.60 on Sunday.

Three of the biggest threats are Street Game, Air Support, and King Congie. Street Game is a New York-bred son of Street Cry who has gone 3 for 3 since trainer Phil Serpe added blinkers, including a 7 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Hill Prince at Belmont on June 18. Street Game is owned by Flying Zee Stables, whose owner Carl Lizza Jr., died July 8.

Air Support, trained by Shug McGaughey, finished second to Street Game in the Hill Prince and was third to Banned in the American Turf. He began his 3-year-old season with a victory in the Grade 3 Transylvania at Keeneland.

King Congie has finished first in all three of his turf starts, but was disqualified for interference in the Hallandale Beach at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 6. Since then, he was beaten a head by Brilliant Speed in the Blue Grass Stakes on Polytrack and, most recently, finished seventh in the Preakness Stakes.

The Derby field, from the rail out, is: Callingahardten (Kent Desormeaux), Air Support (Alex Solis), Newsdad (Alan Garcia), Street Game (Edgar Prado), Casino Host (Chris DeCarlo), Thirtyfirststreet (Chris Landeros), Banned (Jose Lezcano), Crimson China (Julien Leparoux), The Waco Kid (Wilmer Galviz), King Congie (John Velazquez), Benergy (Corey Nakatani), and Watch Me Go (Luis Garcia).

Dynamic Holiday returns in Oaks

Dynamic Holiday, who reeled off three stakes victories in the first 82 days of the year, returns from a freshening in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Virginia Oaks at 1 1/8 miles.

Dynamic Holiday, trained by Graham Motion for George Strawbridge’s Augustin Stable, won the Tropical Park Oaks at Calder, the Florida Oaks at Tampa, and the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes to begin her 3-year-old campaign. Overall, she was won four straight dating back to a nose victory over Sassy’s Dream in a maiden race at Keeneland on Oct. 22.

Sassy’s Dream is among the seven opponents Dynamic Holiday will face in the Oaks, which is scheduled as the race before the Derby. Others entered include Summer Savory, Mystical Star, Wyomia, Pink Pallet, Smart Sting, and Excited.