West Virginia Horse Betting Features The Blue Grass Stakes And Favorite Essential Quality

Written By Dave Bontempo on March 31, 2021 - Last Updated on April 4, 2021

Horse racing betting in West Virginia embraces a loaded Saturday card.

Before 7 p.m., live racing at Hollywood Park at Charles Town Races has an all-day betting festival. Three major Kentucky Derby prep races (the $800,000 Blue Grass Stakes, the $750,000 Wood Memorial and $750,000 Santa Anita Derby) will be run.

Major supporting races are rolled out before the big ones, as the tracks corner a target market.

Big races flesh out Kentucky Derby picture

The prep races will help determine contenders for the May 1 Kentucky Derby.

Now that Life Is Good is recovering from surgery and Greatest Honor was beaten in the Florida Derby last weekend, the Kentucky Derby picture looks wide open.

The next in line for the public-opinion throne, Essential Quality, headlines the Blue Grass.

He towers above the field on paper and may be prohibitive on the win line. Essential Quality captured the Breeders Cup Mile on the same track last fall.

This race stretches out to 1 1/8 miles. The approximate post time is 6:35 p.m. EST.

If Essential Quality has 4-5 odds or higher, this could be a win bet. If he’s something like 1-2, forget that one and try to hit one exacta combination.

Hush of a Storm and Tarantino are considered logical plays in the second and third spots, at least as far as logic applies to a horse race.

Life Is Good’s scratch makes the Santa Anita Derby wide open. Contenders include Medina Spirit, the likely favorite. Bob Baffert trains this horse, who has a win over highly regarded stablemate Spielberg this year.

The field includes Rombauer, The Greate One and Rock Your World, a turf specialist trying the dirt.

The approximate post time is 6:45 p.m. EST.

Horse betting tips

One betting approach: Key a horse first and second with three or four others in a $1 trifecta or superfecta bet. It should pay well. Do that in addition to making a win bet with reasonable odds (perhaps 7-5 or higher) on the favorite and if you like anyone other than the favorite to win.

The afternoon undercard is loaded and includes the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks (Grade 2), the $150,000 Evening Jewel and the Echo Eddie Stakes for California-bred horses. There’s also the $200,000 Royal Heroine (G2), along with the $100,000 Providencia Stakes.

The Wood Memorial is expected to have a small field and an approximate post time of 5:40 p.m. Contenders include Nicky the Vest, who won the Gander Stakes on this track by a dozen lengths. Weyburn, who won the Gotham Stakes at odds of 46-1, also is expected to run.

Prevalence will either be entered in the Wood Memorial or Arkansas Derby next week for his final prep race.

Aqueduct also has a strong undercard. The $300,000 Carter (Grade 1) is for older sprinters going seven furlongs.

The $250,000 Gazelle (G3) is a Kentucky Oaks points race for sophomore fillies. The $200,000 Bay Shore (G3) is for three-year-old sprinters. The $150,000 Excelsior (G3) is for older males going nine furlongs.

Photo by Darron Cummings / The Associated Press
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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others. He writes significantly about the emerging world of legal New Jersey sports betting.

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