December 6, 2022

Ortiz bags five at Colonial including Virginia Derby with Capensis

Capensis wins the 2022 Virginia Derby (Coady Photography)

Capensis was one of the more inexperienced runners among a field of 10 in Tuesday’s $305,000 Virginia Derby (G3). That didn’t dissuade the betting public, which made the gray son of Tapit the 8-5 favorite. Nor did it stop him from winning, and in a fairly professional manner at that.

Sweeping into contention from midpack in upper stretch, Capensis drove clear to a two-length win under Irad Ortiz Jr., who celebrated a five-win day at Colonial Downs Tuesday.

“I had a great trip,” Ortiz said. “I had great position, nobody outside of me. At the three-eighths pole…he jumped at the bit. I knew I had a good chance to run them down.”

Capensis returned $5.20 after completing 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:48.15. Finishing second was 38-1 outsider California Frolic, who had a neck on Limited Liability. It was a similar margin back to Unanimous Consent in fourth.

Todd Pletcher trains Capensis for a partnership of heavy hitters that includes Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Robert LaPenta, Gainesway Stable, Winchell Thoroughbreds, and breeder Stonestreet Stables.

Capensis made a belated debut on July 2 at Belmont Park, but dazzled when scoring by five lengths. His follow-up was less stellar, though, a sixth-place finish against older rivals in an entry-level allowance at Saratoga as the even-money favorite.

Bred in Kentucky sold for $2 million at Keeneland September, Capensis is  out of Santa Margarita (G1) winner Tara’s Tango, an Unbridled’s Song half-sister to King’s Bishop (G1) hero Visionaire and Grade 3 winners Scarlet Strike and Madison’s Luna.

Ortiz’s fourth winner on the program came aboard Spirit and Glory in the $209,000 Virginia Oaks. Sent off at 8-1, Spirit and Glory rallied from 12th to win by 1 1/4 lengths over 31-1 longshot Sparkle Blue. Candy Light finished third, while the favored Surprisingly finished seventh in the field of 14.

Owned by Michael Nentwig, Michael Dubb, Beast Mode Racing, John Rochfort, and trainer Robert Falcone Jr., Spirit and Glory covered nine furlongs on the turf in 1:48.25.

The Irish-bred daughter of Cotai Glory is now 2-for-3 since her arrival in the U.S. An upset winner of her U.S. debut in a June 16 allowance at Belmont, she entered the Virginia Oaks off a seventh-place finish in the Lake George (G3) at Saratoga.