Virginia Gold Cup Day. Real money on the line. 

Champion Doc Cebu tries to right the ship in the timber feature after a mistake dislodged Hadden Frost at My Lady's Manor to being the season. Optimus Prime tries to right the ship in the hurdle feature for slow-starting Ricky Hendriks and Ross Geraghty

As for last week, Tom continued to climb out of his slumber, nabbing four winners (Gibralfaro, Hanno, No Man's Land and Senior Senator) to open a one win lead on Joe (Hanno, No Man's Land, Senior Senator) while Sean picked three winners (Gibralfaro, No Man's Land, Senior Senator). Tom (12) over Joe (11) and Sean (10).  

Race 1. The Virginia Equine Alliance Maiden Hurdle. $40,000. 2 1/8 miles.|
Ovation for the Virginia Gold Cup for splitting the maiden, allowing 16 maiden hurdlers to compete over one of the sport’s best courses. Jump Ship nearly won (actually was briefly declared the winner) of the maiden at Camden, the Virginia-bred should improve from that effort. Jack Fisher is on a torrid run so far this year, he unveils Brianbakescookies for his hurdle debut. Jonathan Sheppard unveils Irish import Clondaw Camp, good luck finding form for the 4-year-old, they say he was impressive in a hurdle trial somewhere. 

  • Joe: Clondaw Camp, Jump Ship, Brianbakescookies.
  • Tom: Brianbakescookies, Jump Ship, End Of An Era.
  • Sean: Jump Ship, Brianbakescookies, Cuba Libre.

Race 2. The Steeplethon Stakes. Presented by M. C. Dean. $40,000. 3 miles.
Days Of Heaven relished the drop in class and foray over the varied obstacles at Middleburg, the fifth highest rated horse in the country should make it a quick double here. Mercoeur ran well at Middleburg behind Days Of Heaven but also has an entry at Winterthur. Katnap was flawless last year.

  • Joe: Days Of Heaven, Mercoeur, Just Wait And See.
  • Tom: Days Of Heaven, Mercoeur, Overwhelming.
  • Sean: Days Of Heaven, Mercoeur, Overwhelming.

Race 3. The Hogan Lovells Hurdle. Ratings Hurdle. $25,000. 2 1/8 miles.
Wide-open handicap attracts Pik Em and Ack Feisty, 2-3 at the Cup Runneth Over April 6. Veteran Manchurian High knocked off some rust with a fifth that day.

  • Joe: Ack Feisty, Pik Em, Flash Jackson.
  • Tom: Flash Jackson, Pik Em, Manchurian High.
  • Sean: Pik Em, Manchurian High, Flash Jackson.

Race 4. The Moody Aylor Memorial Hurdle, Presented by VGCA. $40,000. 2 1/8 miles.
The second division of the maiden displays the eclectic nature of steeplechasing as Grade 1 winning Lochte makes his hurdle debut against Sudden Victory, winner at 5 ½ furlongs at Finger Lakes, Other Cheek, making his 10th hurdle start and four others. Old class or new blood?

  • Joe: Lochte, Lost Story, All Out Of Aces.
  • Tom: Other Cheek, Lochte, Lost Story.
  • Sean: Lochte, Rashford’s Double, Other Cheek.

Race 5. The David Semmes Memorial. Presented by VHBPA. Hurdle Stakes. $75,000. 2 1/8 miles.
Ricky Hendriks is off to a slow start but it should jump back in the groove as Grade 1 stakes winner Optimus Prime makes his 2019 debut against five rivals. The French-bred 7-year-old is 3/5 on the morning line. You don’t see that too often. Hard-trying Invocation, winner of five races since coming here in 2016, makes his graded stakes debut for Billy Santoro.

  • Joe: Optimus Prime, Invocation, Sempre Medici.
  • Tom: Optimus Prime, Sempre Medici, Invocation.
  • Sean: Optimus Prime, Sempre Medici, Invocation.

Race 6. The Virginia Gold Cup. Presented by the Virginia Gold Cup Association. Timber Stakes. $100,000. 4 miles.
The big one. And, oh, what a big one this year. Champion Doc Cebu owns two wins in the International Gold Cup and takes his first crack at the Virginia Gold Cup. The champ’s prep did not go well as he made a mistake late and lost jockey Hadden Frost in the My Lady’s Manor. Did that shake their confidence? They’ll need to be at their best as they take on the Andi’amu, handy winner of the Middleburg Hunt Cup in April and the talented Le Chevalier.

  • Joe: Andi’amu, Doc Cebu, Mystic Strike.
  • Tom: Doc Cebu, Andi’amu, Le Chevalier.
  • Sean: Doc Cebu, Andi’amu, Le Chevalier.

Race 7. The VHBPA Allowance Flat. $40,000. 1 1/2 miles.
First division of a lucrative allowance flat race, this one is wide open as quality hurdler Barnacle Bill preps for next week and 12-furlong turf winner Pitching makes his NSA debut.

  • Joe: My Own Lane, Include It, Barnacle Bill.
  • Tom: Barnacle Bill, Pitching, Deposit.
  • Sean: Deposit, Pitching, Barnacle Bill.

Race 8. The Secretariat. Allowance Flat. Presented by VHBPA. $40,000. 1 1/2 miles.
The second division of the allowance attracts several promising recruits, including Hyperlapse, Gostisbehere, Glad Moon and Colonel Moorhead. Beers on Sean if Gostisbehere wins. 

  • Joe: Gostisbehere, Abatement, Colonel Moorhead.
  • Tom: Gostisbehere, Colonel Moorhead, Abatement.
  • Sean: Gostisbehere, Glad Moon, Abatement.

Race 9. The Virginia-bred or Sired Flat. $35,000. 1 1/4 miles.
Whew, long, strong day of racing draws to a close. The getting-out stakes. Accountable has won two of these already while Speed Gracer makes his first foray into this sphere. Good to see Lacey Gaudet trying her hand here. 

  • Joe: Vincent Van Gogo, Accountable, Complete St.
  • Tom: Accountable, Complete St., Speed Gracer.
  • Sean: Speed Gracer, Accountable, Vincent Van Gogo.

WINTERTHUR RACES
Sunday, the racing goes to Delaware with a four-race card at the Winterthur Museum and Gardens just outside Wilmington. Post time is 2 p.m. and it’s a great place to tailgate, catch up and discuss Saturday’s Kentucky Derby and Virginia Gold Cup results.

Oh, and Winterthur gets MAJOR props for a sense of humor by putting a $41,000 purse on its feature the Winterthur Bowl. The race celebrated its 40th running last year, and the purse was elevated to $40,000. A year later, it’s $41,000. Bravo.

First race. $20,000 maiden timber going 3 1/4 miles. Ten runners line up and include point-to-point winner Royal Ruse, recent hurdle convert Second Amendment and the versatile Awesome Adrian – whose recent form includes starts over timber, over hurdles and on the flat at Delaware Park. Step up and take a swing.

  • Joe: Royal Ruse, Second Amendment, Mercoeur.
  • Tom: Mercoeur, Royal Ruse, Second Amendment.
  • Sean: Mercoeur, Royal Ruse, Awesome Adrian.

Second race. $41,000 Winterthur Bowl timber stakes going 3 1/4 miles. Just five line up in the feature, but they’re an accomplished bunch including last year’s winner Kings Apollo and the two-pronged entry of Two’s Company and Lemony Bay from Bruton Street-US and trainer Jack Fisher.

  • Joe: Kings Apollo, Two’s Company, Lemony Bay.
  • Tom: Lemony Bay, Two’s Company, Aquies.
  • Sean: Kings Apollo, Two’s Company, Lemony Bay.

Third race. $10,000 allowance timber for amateur/apprentice jockeys going 3 1/4 miles. Just four go here, and it’s the timber debut for Skylar McKenna (daughter of trainers Kathy Neilson and Todd McKenna) aboard Embarrassed. Pincer Movement won at Fair Hill Point-to-Point. Flaming Sword won in a dominant – yet green – performance in a similar race at the Grand National.

  • Joe: Flaming Sword, Pincer Movement, Embarrassed.
  • Tom: Flaming Sword, Embarrassed, Way Up High.
  • Sean: Flaming Sword, Pincer Movement, Embarrassed.

Fourth race. Training flat for amateur jockeys going 1 1/2 miles. Ricky Hendriks empties the barn with four of the seven entries including standout hurdler Caldbeck. He won twice over jumps last fall and makes his seasonal debut here in a tuneup for a likely start at Fair Hill. Teenager Tommy Fenwick makes his NSA debut as a jockey aboard Leopard Cat for trainer Willie Dowling. Name of the Day candidate Disobedience (by Street Cry out of Rosa Parks) is part of the Hendriks quartet.

  • Joe: Caldbeck, Swansea Mile, Leopard Cat.
  • Tom: Caldbeck, Swansea Mile, Be Counted.
  • Sean: Caldbeck, Swansea Mile, Leopard Cat.