07/18/2012 3:27PM

Virginia Derby draw: Silver Max a solid favorite at Colonial Downs

Four-Footed Fotos
Silver Max will be favored in Saturday night's Grade 2 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs.

Silver Max will put his five-race win streak on the line Saturday night when going postward as a solid favorite in the Grade  2, $600,000 Virginia Derby, the annual showcase race at Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va.

Silver Max, with Robby Albarado to ride, will break from post 7 when facing eight other 3-year-olds in the Virginia Derby, which goes at 1 1/4 miles on the expansive turf course at Colonial. Silver Max has never raced farther than 1 1/16 miles.

“I’m really confident Robby can get him relaxed and settled,” said Dale Romans, who trains the speedy Silver Max for Louisville, Ky., businessmen Mark Bacon and Dana Wells. “If the horse keeps running like he has been, we should be fine.”

Silver Max has been uncatchable since early March, when he won a Gulfstream Park allowance using a bold, front-running style. The son of Badge of Silver has accounted for four stakes since then, earning a 95 Beyer Speed Figure in every one in a statistical rarity.

Romans said Silver Max was scheduled to arrive Thursday at Colonial by van from his Churchill Downs base in Kentucky. He added if all goes well Saturday that he intends to run Silver Max back in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes on the Aug. 18 Arlington Million card at Arlington Park.

Summer Front, winner in 4 of 6 starts, was assigned post 5 as the top challenger to Silver Max. Ramon Dominguez has the call from trainer Christophe Clement aboard Summer Front, winner of the Grade 3 Hill Prince on the Belmont Park turf in his last out.

From the rail, and with jockeys, this is the Virginia Derby field: Optimizer, Horacio Karamanos; Finnegans Wake, Kent Desormeaux; Two Months Rent, Julian Pimentel; Coach Royal, Joe Rocco Jr.; Summer Front, Dominguez; Easy Crossing, Julien Leparoux; Silver Max, Albarado; Lucky Chappy, Alan Garcia; and Mr. Handsome, Sheldon Russell.

Colonial oddsmaker Keith Feustle said he planned to install Silver Max as the 7-5 favorite on the morning line, with Summer Front next at 5-2.

Colonial racing secretary Tyler Picklesimer said Albarado, besieged with legal problems in recent months in Kentucky, is “currently in good standing” with the Virginia Racing Commission and has been cleared to ride Saturday.

A blockbuster 14-race Saturday card begins at 5 p.m. Eastern, with the Virginia Derby, the ninth race, set for 8:38. The race will be shown live on HRTV.

Four other stakes are carded, led by the Grade 3, $150,000 Virginia Oaks (race 8) for 3-year-old fillies. Likely favorites in a field of seven are Zultanite, most recently second in the Grade  3 Boiling Springs at Monmouth Park, and Volcat, a last-out allowance winner at Churchill.

Three $50,000 races directly precede the two graded events: the Chenery (race 5), the Kitten’s Joy (race 6), and the Tippett (race 7).

This will be the 15th Virginia Derby at Colonial, which has aggressively marketed tailgating availability and a “party zone” to Richmond-area patrons for its biggest event of the year.