Jumps: Three races launch Colonial season

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The rain should be gone. You can watch the Belmont Stakes. There’s jump racing and flat racing. It’s been almost a year. If you’re in Virginia Saturday evening, head to Colonial Downs for Opening Night.

Post time is 6 p.m. on a nine-race card, which kicks off with three steeplechase races and includes the track’s usual slate of opportunities on the turf. But first the jumpers, where the TIHR handicapping contest turns the page to summer racing. Joe leads with 29 winners, Sean and Tom are tied for second with 25 (from 101 races).

First Race. $20,000 maiden hurdle going 2 ¼ miles. Colonial jump races can be tricky to handicap as the turf course sometimes seems to favor front runners, who bounce along on the lead and never come back. Other times, the leaders go way too fast early and stop. This one is full of classy runners including three exiting a start at the Iroquois.

  • Joe: Wait Outside, Wildcatter, King Ting.
  • Sean: Wait Outside, Grand Tier, Wildcatter.
  • Tom: Kasari, Grand Tier, Wildcatter.

Second Race. Another $20,000 maiden hurdling going 2 ¼ miles. Another batch from the Iroquois (there were two maiden races there) and Fair Hill. Like the first, pretty wide open among a handful of major players.

  • Joe: Tempt Me Alex, Young Bohemian, Alfarabi.
  • Sean: Young Bohemian, Tempt Me Alex, Cognashene.
  • Tom: Tempt Me Alex, Cognashene, Puller.

Third Race. The feature on the day, the 17th running of the Zeke Ferguson Memorial. The stakes has been won by some big names over the years (Flat Top, Good Night Shirt, Moneytrain, Slip Away…) and brings a competitive field of 12 this time around. Also going 2 ¼ miles, the Ferguson can be fast and they’ll be running right along with the likes of Decoy Daddy, Wild For Gold, Slip Away, Rainiero and Black Quartz in the mix early. The set-up could help old pro Spy In The Sky, but his best efforts seem to come at Saratoga. Mr. Hot Stuff steps from novice to open company and will get the trip he wants too. Then again, Decoy Daddy (who packs 158 pounds; 6-20 more than his foes) has won two this year and hates to get passed. Fascinating race.

  • Joe: Mr. Hot Stuff, Decoy Daddy, Spy In The Sky.
  • Sean: Mr. Hot Stuff, Black Quartz, Decoy Daddy.
  • Tom: Mr. Hot Stuff, Decoy Daddy, Black Quartz