If West Virginia bettors chose one time to attend live racing at Mountaineer Park in New Cumberland, Saturday is a good one.
The track’s premier card unfolds then, with a special 2 p.m. post time. Mountaineer will award more than $1 million in purse money, with races including:
- $500,000 West Virginia Derby
- $200,000 Governor’s Stakes
- Five announced stakes at $75,000 apiece
“This is our top day of the season and we’re excited that it is now here,” Jim Colvin, the racing director for Mountaineer, told PlayWV.
“We’re expecting a big handle, we have a great field for the West Virginia Derby and this is a huge day all around, not just for the county, but for the entire state.”
Analyzing the West Virginia Derby field
Three horses in this field have done well on the Triple Crown circuit:
This horse is coming into his own. He finished fifth in the Preakness Stakes, then third in the Belmont Stakes.
What about West Virginia? He could be a presence on the early lead, along with We the People.
We the People
We the People was the pacesetter at the Belmont Stakes for at least 1 1/16 miles, with Skippylongstocking at his heels. A similar performance between the two would have them being major threats to be 1-2 at the wire in this 1 1/8-mile race.
The shorter distance is a bigger benefit to both.
Simplification was the fastest of the day at Gulfstream a week before the journey to West Virginia. Trainer Antonio Sano said the stable shoots for the Grade I, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing on Sept. 24 after the West Virginia Derby.
Simplification ran a good fourth in the Kentucky Derby. He could be in a good stalking position here.
Lesser-known West Virginia Derby entrants
The non-Triple Crown entries have some unique angles, too.
He was the dominant winner of the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. Hall of Fame trainer Brad Cox held Home Brew out of the $1 million Haskell Stakes, which he then won with Cyberknife, and announced Home Brew would run in the West Virginia Derby.
He’s a strong stalker with good put-away drive but will need a contentious pace to run at. Home Brew is still unproven at a $500,000 level, but Cox thinks this could be the breakout race.
Courvoisier dueled early and faded against Early Voting, who won the Withers against him that day and later won the Preakness Stakes. He appears to have flattened out but gets one last chance to prove himself at a major level.
King Ottoman was third in the Indiana Derby. The horses who beat him, Actuator and Best Actor, won’t run here. Recent Indiana Derby winners to prevail in this race include Mr. Wireless from last year.
King Ottoman was a beaten third in the derby and this would normally be asking a lot. But his trainer Steve Asmussen has won the most West Virginia Derbies, with five.
Here are all of the horse races happening at Mountaineer Park
The card is solid from top to bottom. Here’s a look at the $75,000 races:
- Speaker’s Cup: Race two, a field of 12
- Secretary of State: Race three, a field of 10
- Chairman’s Cup: Race four, a field of eight
- President’s Cup: Race five, a field of 12
- Robert Byrd: Race six, a field of seven
Bettors will be looking at good prices in the bigger fields. Some quality horses are usually overlooked in these situations, creating unexpectedly strong payouts on occasion.
After the $75,000 races, the $200,000 Governor’s Stakes features Mr. Wireless, who previously won the West Virginia Derby. He’s in a tough field of 10.
That race goes off at 4:55 p.m., followed by the West Virginia Derby at 5:35 p.m.
Here is the field for the West Virginia Derby from Monday’s draw. It shows a collection of horses who have made some noise on the Triple Crown circuit, without winning any of the elite races.
The following shows each horse’s post position, along with its trainer and jockey:
- Jr’s Gift: Hector Andrade, Thiago Canuto
- Simplification: Antonio Sano, Jose Lezcano
- Home Brew: Brad Cox, Paco Lopez
- King Ottoman: Steve Asmussen, Brian Hernandez Jr.
- Courvoisier: Kelly Breen, Deshawn Parker
- We the People: Rodolphe Brisset, Ricardo Santana Jr.
- Skippylongstocking: Saffie Joseph Jr., Edwin Gonzalez