Silver Max, Summer Front square off in Virginia Derby
In addition to the Hill Prince, Summer Front also registered stakes wins last season in the King Cugat at Aqueduct and the Dania Beach at Gulfstream. His first two starts this term were on the main track -- a second in the Grade 3 Lexington on Keeneland's Polytrack and an unplaced effort in the Grade 2 Peter Pan on the Belmont dirt.
Lucky Chappy, a stakes winner in Italy and multiple Grade 3-placed in the U.S., makes his return to action Saturday after nearly four months on the sidelines. The Team Valor-owned colt was last seen in Dubai, in the Group 2 U.A.E. Derby, where he failed to muster a rally in a seventh-place finish.
Optimizer, a son of grass champion and 2005 Virginia Derby winner English Channel, should fare better on his return to turf. A debut winner on the Saratoga grass last summer, he later finished a close second in the Grade 3 With Anticipation. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas kept the colt on the main track for his next 10 starts, with a second in the Grade 2 Rebel being his best finish. He was unplaced in all three legs of the Triple Crown this spring.
The remainder of the field, all of whom figure to be big longshots, include the multiple stakes-placed Easy Crossing and Mr. Handsome, and Grade 3-placed Finnegans Wake.
The Grade 3, $150,000 Virginia Oaks at nine furlongs on the turf features a field of seven three-year-old fillies, four of whom are exiting maiden wins. Zultanite figures to be a strong favorite off recent placings in the Grade 3 Boiling Springs and Grade 2 Sands Point.
The Saturday program also features three other $50,000 grass stakes: the Chenery for two-year-olds at 5 1/2 furlongs; the Tippett for juvenile fillies at 5 1/2 furlongs; and the Kitten's Joy for older horses at 1 1/16 miles.
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