Cats Had Best Virginia Derby Seats

By Karen

Adele was right about watching the Virginia Derby on TV. As things turned out, I watched most of the race on TV myself, and I was at the track.

Interstate 64 was gridlocked much of the way to Colonial Downs, a drive that should have taken about 45 minutes but lasted 2 ¼ hours. The only obstacle seemed to be one state trooper car with flashing lights sitting beside this sign:

Virginia Derby

Use Caution

Expect Delays

Thoughtfully placed at the END of the bottleneck. After that, clear sailing, but my parents and I missed the first 5 races.

Then our reserved tickets were screwed up, so we got a complimentary bump “up” to the Jockey Club, which meant air-conditioned comfort and TVs everywhere, but no seat outside close to the action. We slipped outdoors for one race, but got caught inadvertently stealing somebody’s seats, so we slunk back indoors.

Jockey Julien Leparoux (who rode Fred’s favorite, General Quarters, in the Kentucky Derby) was on fire in Virginia. We watched him win 3 races in a row before Kent Desormeaux and Edgar Prado started riding to give him some competition.

Then Desormeaux seized the spotlight, winning 2 stakes races in a row. I felt very confident he’d ride Adele’s pick, Hold Me Back, to victory in the Virginia Derby. So did the crowd, because Hold Me Back became the favorite.

Adele was right about Straight Story’s Derby performance. He held the lead until Battle of Hastings came up from behind in the final paces and beat Straight by a nose — again.

Battle of Hastings beat Straight Story by a cat's whisker. (Photo - Joe Mahoney, Richmond times-Dispatch)

Battle of Hastings beat Straight Story by a cat's whisker. (Photo - Joe Mahoney, Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Hold Me Back came in a disappointing fifth.

Leaving Colonial Downs was painless in spite of the crowd, but the track needs to fix that sign saying, “Richmond, Center Lane.” It sends cars directly into a subdivision. We took Route 60 for half the trip home and hit no traffic.

So now I’ve visited Colonial Downs twice, getting trapped on I-64 both times. Being track-side is nice, but unless you watch the TV monitors instead of the horses themselves, you can never see all the exciting “jockeying” for position that goes on during the race. Just watching the horses streak across the finish line through a window is the pits.

The cats and I will be watching the next big race together.

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