07/10/2013 2:58PM

Colonial Downs: Virginia Derby filled with winning bloodline

Jenny Burgos
Redwood Kitten is one of three starters in Saturday’s Virginia Derby sired by the race’s 2004 winner, Kitten’s Joy.

Kitten’s Joy left his mark in the Virginia Derby on the expansive Colonial Downs turf course in 2004, rallying from 16 lengths back to win going away.

Nearly 10 years later, Kitten’s Joy still has a presence in the Virginia Derby, this time as a sire. Three of the 10 entrants in Saturday’s Grade 2, $500,000 Virginia Derby are offspring of Kitten’s Joy – Redwood Kitten, Charming Kitten, and Fear the Kitten.

Redwood Kitten and Charming Kitten are owned and were bred by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who stand Kitten’s Joy, while Fear the Kitten was bred by the Ramseys. Fear the Kitten is owned by Frank Irvin, who claimed him off the Ramseys for $40,000 last fall at Keeneland from his winning debut.

Although Kitten’s Joy may have strength in numbers, the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the Virginia Derby is Rydilluc, a perfect 4 for 4 on grass and a colt who won the inaugural $460,000 Penn Mile over Charming Kitten going a mile at Penn National June 1.

Regular jockey Edgar Prado returns in the irons aboard Rydilluc, who along with most of the field tries the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Virginia Derby for the first time.

Only two have raced 1 1/4 miles, with 7-2 morning-line second choice Charming Kitten finishing ninth in the Kentucky Derby on dirt, and longshot Readyshakego winning an entry-level allowance at 1 1/4 miles over the Colonial Downs turf course June 8.

Other notable Virginia Derby contenders include Jack Milton, third in the Penn Mile and the third choice on the morning line at 4-1; War Dancer, second in the swiftly run Centaur Stakes at Indiana Downs June 15; and Draw Two, who is coming off consecutive victories in New York about seven months apart.

Post time for the Virginia Derby is 8:12 p.m. Eastern.

Virginia Oaks tops undercard

Four other stakes races on grass precede the Virginia Derby, led by the Grade 3, $150,000 Virginia Oaks, which goes as the seventh race at 7:28 p.m.

Praia, twice second to Kitten’s Dumplings in stakes at Churchill Downs this spring, is the headliner of the Virginia Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race, with her chief opponents being Three Hearts, Hold Our Destiny, and Cat’s Holiday.

The $75,000 Chenery for 2-year-old males, the $75,000 Tippett for 2-year-old females, and the $75,000 Kitten’s Joy for marathoners at 1 1/2 miles make up the rest of the stakes.