It was Victory in Saratoga Springs Day on Saturday for prominent steeplechase owner Magalen O. Bryant when her V.E. Day swept to a narrow win in the $1.25-million Travers Stakes (Gr. 1) at historic Saratoga Race Course.
With many of the year’s top three-year-olds in the Travers field, V.E. Day went off at 19.50-to-1 despite a win over the track in the $100,000 Curlin Stakes on July 25.
Ridden for the first time by Javier Castellano, V.E. Day was well back early and moved into contention at the furlong pole on a wet track rated as good. He made up three lengths to the finish line and arrived there a nose in front of Centennial Farms’ Wicked Strong, the Wood Memorial (Gr. 1) and Jim Dandy (Gr. 2) Stakes winner. Both are trained by Jimmy Jerkens, the son of legendary New York horseman H. Allen Jerkens.
Greeting V.E. Day as he made his way into the Saratoga winner’s circle was Mrs. Bryant’s stable manager, Cindy Tucker.
The Travers was V.E. Day’s fourth straight victory. Purchased for $135,000 at the 2013 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s March sale of selected two-year-olds in training, V.E. Day was expected to shine on the turf.
Unraced at two, the chestnut by English Channel made two starts on the grass at Gulfstream Park in Florida, including a second-place finish in his second start. He scored his maiden victory on a sloppy Belmont Park main track on May 10 and then won a Belmont turf allowance on July 2.
Jerkens believed V.E. Day was training so well on the main track that he tried him in the Curlin Stakes, which he won by a neck.
Mrs. Bryant is a Virginia owner-breeder who also has been a prominent environmentalist in Loudon and Fauquier counties west of Washington, D.C. Born Nov. 30, 1928, she is the daughter of G. L. Ohrstrom Sr., founder of a New York investment firm that bore his name. The company, for many years managed by her late brother, George L. Ohrstrom Jr., founded Dover Corp., Carlisle Cos. and Roper Industries Inc.
She is the owner of Locust Hill Farm in Middleburg and was one of the first property owners in that area to place her land in a conservation trust. A former chairperson of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, she received the Land Trust of Virginia’s Conservationist of the Year Award in 2011.
Her extensive stable of steeplechase horses is trained by Doug Fout, Richard Valentine, Neil Morris, Jimmy Day, Jonathan Sheppard and Leslie Young, She ended the 2013 racing season in third position on the owners table with six wins from 63 starts and earnings of $279,300. Her acquisition Gustavian won the 2013 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) at Belmont Park and finished second in the Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J.
She has bred for the steeplechase circuit, and in 2012 her homebreds Quiet Flaine and Ptarmigan finished first and second, respectively, in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Margaret Currey Henley Stakes. Ptarmigan won the National Steeplechase Association’s filly and mare championship in 2011.