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King Congie Returns To Lawn in Virginia Derby

July 14, 2011 · By Erin Birkenhauer · Share

King Congie returns to the turf this Saturday - a surface over which he has never been beaten - in the $600,000 Virginia Derby (gr. II) at Colonial Downs, and trainer Tom Albertrani is expecting a big effort now that the colt has been freshened up off an outing in the May 21 Preakness Stakes (gr. I).

 
King Congie’s best efforts came over the lawn in the $100,000 Tropical Park Derby and the $100,000 Hallandale Beach Stakes earlier this season (he lost that score to a disqualification), although a third-place finish by a head on Polytrack at Keeneland in the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) this April showed his versatility on multiple surfaces.

The Badge of Silver runner has been training with Albertrani’s string at Belmont Park, where he clocked a solid five-furlong work in 1:03.26 breezing on Tuesday. Following the Virginia Derby, he’ll ship to Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York.

“We’re excited about getting to see King Congie back on a surface he’s clearly relished,” said WPT president Terry Finley. “The race has come up full and tough but that’s the kind of competition we like to face, and this week’s work showed us that he’s ready.”

King Congie faces a formidable foe in Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Banned, a multiple graded stakes winner who comes off a June 18 score in the Jefferson Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs, as well as the likes of Air Support and Crimson China. Those three head a 12-horse field of 3-year-old runners, and all will face the distance question as they tackle 1 ¼-miles for the first time.

The West Point runner leaves the gate from post 10 carrying 117 pounds with jockey John Velazquez aboard. In comparison, Banned and Air Support share the co-highweight of 123 pounds, while Crimson China carries 119.

“The distance is longer than he’s ever been but that’s the case for the entire field, and the weights give us a little advantage,” Finley said. “We certainly don’t mind being assigned less than the potential favorites and we’ll be watching for King Congie to come flying home on what is arguably his favorite surface.”

The Virginia Derby, race eight with a post time of 8:05 p.m. ET, tops a 14-race card that begins at 5:00 p.m. ET.
Whoot Whoot! Go King Congie!!!! We are rooting for ya!!!!
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