Wehrman sees progress at Colonial Downs

August 20, 2006|by LARRY YANOS

On Virginia Derby Day at Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va., I spotted a familiar face - racing secretary Randy Wehrman.

The veteran racing official, who served in a similar capacity at Charles Town Races & Slots from 1997-99, just completed his first year at the thoroughbred racetrack outside of Richmond.

He was pleased with the overall situation.

"Things went great," Wehrman said. "We had a good meet, attracted mostly full fields, and I think both the management and horsemen were pleased."

A native of Alexandria, Ky., Wehrman has been involved with horse racing most of his adult life.

"When I was in college in the University of Kentucky, I worked at a harness meet in Lexington (the Red Mile as an identifier) and then in 1983 I went to Latonia Race Course in Florence, Ky. - now known as Turfway Park - where I was a patrol judge and claims clerk," Wehrman said. "Since that time, I've worked at Keeneland, Kentucky Downs, Penn National (nine years as an assistant racing secretary) and Charles Town."


Wehrman served as a stakes coordinator at Turfway Park in 2002 and joined the racing secretary's office staff at Keeneland in Lexington in the fall of 2004.

"What a beautiful place, some great horse racing, a very classy facility," Wehman said of Keeneland.

Wehrman didn't know the Colonial Downs position was available until last fall.

"I came up to Virginia in the fall do get some R and R and do some hunting and some friends told me about the Colonial Downs situation," Wehrman said. "I sent in a resume, had an interview and was hired. It's been great. We attracted more horses this year - helped by the fact I knew folks in Kentucky and Florida - and it was just an overall terrific meet."

Wehrman had his first condition book ready by St. Patrick's Day - the earliest condition book ever written at the Virginia racetrack.

The veteran racing official saw progress from Day 1.

"This year, I think we put a new spin on the climate of horse racing at Colonial. It was very encouraging," Wehrman said. "There was more interest and more competition. Getting horses from the likes of Florida and Kentucky really helped. I think our off-track handle was up over 15 percent."

Racing returns

Live thoroughbred racing returned to Maryland last Wednesday after a nine-week hiatus in the form of twilight racing.

Twilight racing (3:30 p.m. post time) is scheduled for Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays this week as an abbreviated eight-day stand concludes.

The mini-meet will include a state-bred stakes race today: The Deputed Testamony. First post for the card will be 1:10 p.m.

The short meeting ends Friday. Racing then shifts to Timonium for the eight-day state fair meet. The 17-week Laurel fall meeting begins Sept. 6.

Pony tales

Penn National-based jockey Thomas Clifton is sidelined indefinitely from injuries sustained in a spill in the third race at the Grantville, Pa., racetrack on Aug. 10.

The meet's leading jockey sustained a broken nose, collarbone and ribs, and he had internal bleeding from a lacerated liver.

Fellow rider Edilberto Rodriquez was also hurt in the accident. Back injuries will have him out of competition for a number of months.

Lava Man, unbeaten in five races this year - including victories in the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup - will be the favorite in today's 16th running of the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Lava Man drew Post Position 2 in an eight-horse field scheduled to go postward in the 1 1/4-mile test.

The son of Slew City Slew has already captured the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap in March and the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup in July.

In between those two wins, he showed his versatility by winning the Grade I Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap in June over the Hollywood Park grass course. His lifetime earnings are $2,904,704, with the vast majority of that total coming after he was claimed by his current owners, Jason Wood and STD Racing, for $50,000 in August 2004.

Among those set to oppose Lava Man is 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo.

The live running of the Pacific Classic, as well as the Longacres Mile Handicap from Emerald Downs outside Seattle, can be seen on ESPN2 from 7-8 p.m. as part of the "Road to the Breeders Cup World Championships Powered by Dodge" series.

The Monmouth Park record for lowest trifecta payoff fell last Wednesday when the wager returned an even $6 in the third race.

The record low payoff was the product of the favorites running 1-2-3. The winner was Almonsoon, who went off at 30 cents on the dollar and paid $2.60, $2.10 and $2.10 across the board. Four Once, part of a mutuel entry that was sent off as the second choice at $3.60-1, paid $2.20 and $2.10. Philomela, third choice at $6.10-1, paid $2.10 to show.

On Aug. 23, 1956, Carl Gambardella had his first career winner, aboard Rollin Warm at the Hagerstown Racetrack. Gambardella, riding mostly in New England, won over 5,000 races in his career.

On Aug. 23, 2003, Maryland-based trainer King Leatherbury became just the third conditioner in thoroghbred horse racing history to win 6,000 races after saddling Cherokee Sunrise to victory in the seventh race at the Timonium Race Course.

On Aug. 24, 2003, jockey Julie Krone became the first female rider to win a million-dollar race when she piloted Candy Ride to victory in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

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 or by e-mail at

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