NEW KENT, Va.--In a closely fought final few furlongs, Irv Naylor's Bercasa (Ire) closed steadily to win by a neck in the $100,000, 2 1/4 mile Life's Illusion Hurdle Stakes for fillies and mares at Colonial Downs on Sept. 8..
Trained by Kathy Neilson and ridden be Gerard Galligan, Bercasa now has two wins and a third in stakes this year.
"She won at Iroquois after two years off from racing," said Neilson. "She had a foal, a baby boy. He was born on my Dad's birthday, so we named him Leaping Louis. He'll be 1 in January."
Neilson's father, Louis (Paddy) Neilson was a top steeplechase rider and trainer.
"I thought she'd run well," said Neilson. "Her coat was really rich, and she's been training well, so I was pretty optimistic that she'd run well. But I was worried, because she was giving 12 pounds to some pretty good horses."
"I thought Gerard should keep her back early in the race, but she started off too strong. Then she made a mistake at the fourth fence and got shuffled back to last. She looked like she was completely off the bridle."
"GERARD said she really nailed it over the last three fences," said Neilson. "Gerard saw an opening on the outside. It was a really close finish. The top four were only separated by 1 1/4 lengths. Riders can only hit a horse six times now, so Gerard said when he was coming up on the leaders he could hear the other riders growling and screaming at their horses, so he started growling and screaming too."
Bercasa carried 156 pounds and finished in 4:02.36.
Right Tempo, trained by Leslie Young and carrying 143 pounds, was second, a neck ahead of Cainyoudothetwist, trained by Arch Kingsley and carrying 151 pounds, who was a neck in front of Bella Coola, trained by Elizabeth Voss and carrying 141 pounds.
Bercasa is now aimed at the filly and mare stakes at Far Hills, said Neilson.
Abaan, owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Daigneault Thoroughbeds, trained by Kate Dalton and ridden by Bernie Dalton, won the $40,000 Maiden Special Weight by 7 1/4 lengths over Press Pause, trained by Paul Fout, and Reassured, trained by Mark Beecher.
Abaan finished in 4:01.12.
This was Abaan's second run over fences after finishing second in a maiden special weight at Colonial.
He had run successfully on the flat, winning two stakes and finishing second in a G2 stakes at Gulfstream in 2022.
Mrs. George Ohstrom's Tease And Sieze (Fr), trained by Richard Valentine and ridden by Mell Boucher, won the $35,000 Ratings Handicap Hurdle, also by 7 1/4 lengths, over Seismic Wave, trained by Neil Morris, and Oscar Winner, trained by Young.
Tease And Seize finished in 4:09.21.
This was his sixth race in this country after being imported from England and his first win after finishing third and fifth in handicaps earlier inn the year,
There was a $50,000, 2 mile turf race following the three hurdle races for horses that had started over fences at the meet but had not won.
Mrs. S.K. Johnston's Riptide Rock, trained by Morris and ridden by Graham Watters, won by 3 3/4 lengths over Just Another Onem, trained by Keri Brion, and Parquetry, also trained by Brion.
Riptide Rock had run only once over fences, finishing third in a maiden special weight at Colonial earlier in the meet.