Call it the countdown to New Cumberland or sizzling summer Saturdays. Either way, horse racing gallops onto center stage for West Virginia horse betting over the next three weeks and once more before the end of the summer.
Three dynamite race weeks culminate with a major event on Aug. 6. That’s when Mountaineer Casino Race Track and Resort in New Cumberland hosts its biggest event.
We’re talking about the $500,000 West Virginia Derby, one of the most prominent on the three-year-old racing circuit. The 52nd running of the derby is one of the major races in the nation.
West Virginia concludes its sharp summer campaign with the 14th running of the $1 million Charles Town Classic on Aug. 26 at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in Charles Town.
Mountain State bettors, who can access all the action via outlets like TVG, get what amounts to a summer sequel to the spring three-year-old racing season, on a national level.
They can bet on the next two major weekends from the comfort of their apps, mobile devices, or via simulcasting at Mountaineer. There are also live-racing cards on Saturday nights from Charles Town.
They then have the option to either attend the West Virginia Derby or bet remotely. Mountaineer features a special 2 p.m. post time for derby day, a change from its night schedule.
The $1 million Haskell Stakes on July 23
Let’s look at the road to Aug. 6 at New Cumberland, home of Mountaineer racing.
This weekend, on July 23, the $1 million Haskell Stakes is coming from Monmouth Park in New Jersey. Here are some names bettors are familiar with from the road to the spring Triple Crown circuit.
Taiba is confirmed to run and will bring plenty of interest. He won the Santa Anita Derby in only his second outing and was in a striking position to do well in the Kentucky Derby. But he flattened out in the stretch, finishing 12th. He’s a stalker.
Taiba is trained by Bob Baffert, who has won the Haskell more than anybody. Baffert has cleared recent suspension protocols by state commissions and is eligible to enter horses.
Jack Christopher is four-for-four on the campaign. He was scratched with a spring injury from the derby circuit but has been running well. Jack Christopher is a speed horse who fits into the favored early-speed running style of the Monmouth Park track.
This race is 1 1/8 miles, more comfortable than the 1 1/4 Kentucky Derby.
Florida Derby winner White Abarrio and Arkansas Derby winner Cyberknife also are expected to run.
Kentucky Derby winner Mandaloun took the Haskell last year after initial winner Hot Rod Charlie was disqualified. Check Wednesday’s draw to find the final field.
The $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes on July 30
Then, on July 30, the $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga throws in its reminder of the derby circuit.
Zandon and Ethereal Road are listed as likely to run. Do those names sound familiar?
Zandon finished third in the Kentucky Derby. He was trying to run down Epicenter, and the horses looked bound to finish 1-2. Then from out of the clouds came 80-1 winner Rich Strike. He’s a stalker and closer.
One day before the derby, Rich Strike wasn’t entered. He got in because of a late scratch by Ethereal Road.
Despite being scratched from the Run for the Roses, Ethereal Road has been running well on a lower level. Let’s see if he steps up.
There is a little more time for this field to be finalized. Watch for it next week.
Early Voting won the Preakness Stakes and is listed as probable. He has a front-running style that could get him to the lead early.
This also is shaping up to be an excellent race.
2022 West Virginia Derby
Who’s running in West Virginia on Aug. 6? Early guesses include Skippylongstocking, who ran a good third behind Mo Donegal and Nest in the Belmont Stakes.
Simplification finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby and has been right around the top three finishers in most of his races.
The West Virginia Derby will be compelling enough for Mountain State bettors, but a bonus is to wager on the Saratoga card, which includes the $1 million Whitney Stakes and the Saratoga Derby.
Entries familiar to racing fans will soon surface for the Whitney.
One Triple Crown thoroughbred who has already shocked the industry looks geared for the Saratoga Derby, which is on turf. Classic Causeway (remember his finish in 11th at the Kentucky Derby?) won the $1 million Belmont Invitational in his turf debut.
This marks the second leg of what is considered the Turf Racing Triple Crown.
Mountain State horse racing bettors have one of the rare luxuries of any state at this time of year. There is live racing every day.
Mountaineer hosts the programs Sunday-Wednesday at 7 p.m., while Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races picks up the ball Thursday-Saturday at the same time.