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Fauquier-bred, owned and trained Zanclus takes 93rd Virginia Gold Cup

First all-Virginia timber classic score since the early 1970s

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Fauquier County horses and horsemen ruled at Saturday’s 93rd edition of the $100,000 Virginia Gold Cup when Casanova-bred Zanclus led from the early stages of the 4-mile timber classic and won by 3 3/4 lengths for his local owner-breeders Sara and Bruce Collette, and Fauquier-based trainer Neil Morris. 

Locally-based jockey Kieran Norris, a native of Ireland, was aboard for the rich victory at Great Meadow near The Plains. 

Another local horse, Mike Smith’s Le Chevalier, ridden by Jack Doyle, was second for Upperville-based trainer Julie Gomena, with Irv Naylor’s Super Saturday, ridden by Gerard Galligan, 9 lengths back in third. 

Two-time defending race winner Ebanour, ridden Darren Nagle, was fourth. 

Morning line second-choice, Zanclus went to post as strong 6-5 favorite. Ebanour was second choice -- 8-5. Le Chevalier paid 6-1, rewarding the Fauquier “hunch” exacta with a $45.30 payout.

Betting odds are set by the handicapper according to the number of bets on race day. The odds 6-5 indicate the that the wager pays $6 for a $5 bet. An exacta pays when the wager predicts the first two finishers in order. 

Three races later, Zanclus’s 4-year-old full brother Eryx won for the team to round out the rain-splashed day. 

Turnstile traffic was down slightly, said Virginia Gold Cup Association director Diane Jones, but betting handle was up – way up, with more than $132,000 wagered on the elite eight-race card. 

For good measure, Fauquier-owned and trained Personal Start surged to victory in the afternoon’s featured hurdle race, the grade 2 $75,000 David Semmes Memorial for The Plains-based trainer Richard Valentine and owner-breeder Maggie Bryant of Middleburg. Bryant is the mother of state Del. Michael Webert, R-18th, of Fauquier County.

Valentine also saddled Willow U, ridden by Shane Crimin, to win the allowance hurdle. 

Complete race charts are up at

Full story and lots more photos will be printed in this week’s Fauquier Times.

Reach Betsy Burke-Parker at

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