Red Velvet Cake is a treat for Cohens

November 16, 2003|by LARRY YANOS

Another Tri-State Futurity, another Cohen family victory.

Red Velvet Cake, a talented 2-year-old gelding owned by Al and Randy Cohen, won the Tri-State Futurity at the Charles Town Races & Slots.

It was the fifth time a horse from Hickory Plains Farm - near Monrovia, Md., in Frederick County - reached the winner's circle in the prestigious event.

"Years ago, my father (Al) was in partnership with Dr. Poirier and they raced under the name Entremont," Randy Cohen said. "They won it with Softly (1972), Cojak (1974) and Fight For Gold (1977). My father and I have won it most recently with Guru Dude (1992) and Red Velvet Cake (2003)."


Some of those wins have been dramatic.

"I remember the wins but I particularly recall Fight For Gold, who won a race in Maryland on a Wednesday and came back to Charles Town on Saturday to win the Tri-State Futurity," Al Cohen said.

The 2003 event was a $50,000-added test. Red Velvet Cake breezed to victory in the 7-furlong race.

The Tri-State Futurity premiered in 1962 and was once the richest 2-year-old race in the country.

Management at Charles Town Races & Slots, faced with the uncertainly of future thoroughbred racing, decided to stop the event in 1994 but it was placed back on the racing schedule in 2002.

"It's a true futurity," Charles Town director of racing Richard (Dickie) Moore said. "Horses from Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia are eligible and you actually must nominate the mare in foal."

There are various nominating fees to keep the prospective runners eligible but the money was well spent by the Cohen family.

There were more than 400 horses nominated for this year's futurity, including 20 from Hickory Plains Farm.

Changing course

Randy Cohen said Red Velvet Cake was a handful early in the year but was gelded and it made a big difference.

"Something had to be done," Cohen said. "We took him down to (Colonial Downs) and he threw (jockey) Ryan Foglesonger three times in the post parade, ran off and was scratched. The next time we ran him, he bolted on the turn and finished dead last."

It was decision time.

"We gelded him about 15 minutes after the race," Cohen said with a laugh. "It has made a world of difference. After a 6-to-7 week layoff, he came back and broke his maiden at Pimlico in September, winning easily. In his next start against winners in early October, he grabbed a big lead, became disinterested, and finished second."

Then it was on to Charles Town for the Tri-State Futurity and the victory under the guidance of jockey Anthony Mawing.

"Trainer Greg Smith took care of him at Charles Town and did a nice job prepping him for the race," Cohen said.

Greg's brother, Hamilton, trains many of the Cohen horses in Maryland.

"I think he has a nice future," Cohen said of Red Velvet Cake. "He's a big, powerful gelding and he will be a steady allowance horse. Time will tell just how good he will be."

Cohen is looking for a spot for Red Velvet Cake at either Charles Town or Pimlico.

Red Velvet Cake became the first winner for freshman sire Diamond, a son of Mr. Prospector standing at the Northview Stallion Farm.

Cohen is pleased with the success of his horses over the years.

"It is extremely hard to run an operation with homebreds. you need a lot of good help," Cohen said. "Our farm manager Seldon Jackson and the rest of the help do a great job. We have approximately 60 horses on the farm now, including 20 mares."

Pony Tales

  • Thursday's nasty weather played havoc with area racetracks.

    Laurel Park closed for the day because of high winds and Charles Town shut down after running just two races.

  • Joe Hirsch, the Daily Racing Form's award-winning executive columnist and the most accomplished turf writer in the history of Thoroughbred horse racing, will end his legendary 55-year career when he pens his final DRF column on Nov. 29.

    The "dean" of thoroughbred racing writers, Hirsch, 74, was the founder and first president of the National Turf Writers' Association and is the only American writer to win both the Eclipse Award for outstanding writing and the Lord Derby Award from the Horse Race Writers of Britain.

  • Heavy favorite for the steeplechase Eclipse Award, McDynamo will try to extend his winning streak to five in today's season-ending Colonial Cup at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C.

    A 6-year-old son of Dynaformer, McDynamo has ruled steeplechasing in 2003 with wins in the two richest Grade I races of the year (Keeneland's Royal Chase in April and the Breeders' Cup Steeplechase last month).

    Trained in Pennsylvania by Sanna Hendriks, McDynamo will try to add the historic Colonial Cup, a race worth $100,000 in purse money but millions in reputation.

    The race was the first six-figure steeplechase in U.S. history when it was founded in 1970, and has been won by three Hall of Famers and 13 champions. Furthermore, the race tests Thoroughbreds with a 2 3/4-mile distance and 17 natural brush fences. Springdale is the only course in the U.S. where no fence is jumped more than once.

    McDynamo, making his first start in the race, faces six rivals including three (runner-up Pelagos, Mulahen and Hotspur) who finished behind him in the Breeders' Cup. Stakes veterans Lord Zada and Al Skywalker also are in the field.

Larry Yanos is sports editor of The Daily Mail. He covers horse racing for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131 ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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