07/14/2011 3:43PM

Colonial Downs: Dynamic Holiday may go favored in Virginia Oaks


Dynamic Holiday hasn’t been favored in any of her three starts during 2011, but bettors may be getting the idea now. Unbeaten in those three races, all stakes, Dynamic Holiday could wind up a narrow favorite over Excited in the Grade 3, $150,000 Virginia Oaks on Saturday at Colonial Downs.

The filly’s obvious ability alone will earn her many backers, and there is also the Graham Motion factor in play. Motion’s horses have taken ample wagering action in their occasional Colonial appearances this year, and for good reason. From six starts at the meet, Motion has three wins, a second, and two thirds. His recent record in graded stakes races is similarly encouraging, a 21-percent win rate and a $3.26 return on investment.

Dynamic Holiday has one of those graded stakes wins, having captured the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream Park on March  13, her most recent performance. That race marked Dynamic Holiday’s first try at the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Virginia Oaks, and probably was the best performance of her career. Dynamic Holiday has been working steadily at the Fair Hill training center, and jockey Julien Leparoux won the Tropical Park Oaks with her on Jan. 1.

Excited will take her share of betting as well, with popular connections Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez behind her. Excited, a Giant’s Causeway filly, won the Hilltop at Pimlico and finished second in the Regret at Churchill in her two most recent races, but she has lost ground from the stretch call to the finish in both her tries over 1 1/8 miles, and two other fillies, Smart Sting and Summer Savory, have appeal at longer odds.

Smart Sting is a daughter of Perfect Sting, an excellent turf mare who excelled at longer distances, and could improve in her first race beyond 1 1/16 miles. She has two wins and two thirds from her four-start career, and prepped for Saturday’s race by facing older horses in a Woodbine allowance.

Summer Savory is 2 for 2 since being switched to turf racing this summer at Arlington Park, and she held her own in a July 3 grass workout with the colt Willcox Inn, who easily won the American Derby last weekend at Arlington.

Also in the field is Wyomia, who finished second in the Grade 1 Ashland earlier this year. Wyomia, however, has shown little spark in two grass races.

Three stakes on undercard

Rounding out Virginia Derby day are three $50,000 turf stakes, the Tippett and the Chenery for 2-year-olds, and the Kitten’s Joy for older horses.

Motion and Leparoux have the morning-line favorite in the Kitten’s Joy, Cherokee Artist, but his credentials don’t seem quite as solid as Dynamic Holiday’s. Six-year-old Cherokee Artist hasn’t won since last July and has found the winner’s circle just once the last two calendar years.

Woodbine shipper Rules of Honor won’t go postward at anything like his 20-1 morning-line odds, but is worth a look at a decent price. Action Andy almost stole the Da Hoss Stakes over this course when stretched out from sprints in his most recent start, and he will have a clear early lead again Saturday.

The Tippett, at 5 1/2 furlongs for males, and the Chenery, at the same turf distance for fillies, are inscrutable. Jonmil Johnny won a turf-sprint maiden race at Churchill last out and may be favored in the Chenery for Leparoux and trainer Mike Maker. Five of the 12 fillies in the Tippett are maidens, three of them unraced. Putthebabiesdown and Embracing Hearts performed decently in maiden turf races.