VIRGINIA DERBY

2006, DEAN HOFFMEYER/times-dispatchIn years past, Colonial Downs summer racing was eight to nine weeks with 30 to 45 race days. Last year, it was shortened to five weeks and 25 days.

‘Derby Bill’ Watson’s Virginia Derby picks

“Derby Bill” Watson was the official handicapper at Colonial Downs for 6 years and has been a professional handicapper for 21. Hear him, Nick Hahn, Frank Vespe, Mike Barone and Darrell Wood on “Off to the Races Radio” Saturdays from 10-11 a.m. on 950. Watson’s Virginia Derby superfecta: No. 6 Tracksmith, No. 8 English Bee, No. 9 Chilly in Charge, and No. 5 Shootin the Breeze.

1. Changi (20-1): Longshot odds may drift up to 41-1 level. He did hang on for a piece of the Monmouth superfecta after a less menacing trip at Colonial on Aug. 9.

2. Solidify (10-1): Only Graded Stakes winner in the race was impressive as a 2-year-old, but, a warning, is coming off the longest layoff in the field — 56 days.

3. Jais’s Solitude (8-1): One of two in the field coming off a win. Has shown big late run after a switch back to turf that led to landing in the money in five of last six races.

4. Critical Data (15-1): Data says last two races not up to the level of the top two in the field. This is the fourth straight different track since crossing the pond — may be homesick.

5. Shootin the Breeze (8-1): Trainer Graham Motion wants to hit a trifecta by entering three of the Derby horses. This Breeze is blowing well; strong finishes in four of last five races.

6. Tracksmith (3-1): Trainer Joe Sharp has targeted this race for the son of Kentucky Derby champion Street Sense — is coming off two wins.

7. Credit Swap (4-1): Red-hot Trevor McCarthy may try to steal this one up front as Credit is good; best 3 finishes were in 5.5 furlong sprints.

8. English Bee (5-2): Virginia Derby champion bloodline via both English Channel and Kitten’s Joy makes Bee the wagering favorite and maybe the fan favorite.

9. Chilly in Charge (10-1): Jockey Horacio Karamanos has been a giant killer in Virginia Derby’s storied past, bringing a 50-1 horse to victory. He needs Chilly’s maiden turf trip to be red hot.

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