West Virginia already is an excellent horse racing state, with more than 300 live-racing dates at Mountaineer Park in New Cumberland and Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.
But on Saturday, the Mountain State hits the big time with WV horse racing.
Mountaineer hosts the $500,000 Grade 3 West Virginia Derby, highlighting a special afternoon card. The 51st running of this event is conducted at 1 1/8 miles and is the eighth race on a nine-race program that begins at 2 p.m. Derby post time is 5:35 p.m.
Hall of Fame trainers Bob Baffert, Steve Asmussen and Todd Pletcher have all obtained victories in this race.
This is the biggest racing event of the year in West Virginia and the biggest one-day outlay of purses, more than $1 million.
Besides the $500,000 West Virginia Derby, the undercard includes the $200,000 Grade 3 West Virginia Governor’s Stakes and five $75,000 stakes on the dirt and turf.
Patron attendance is limited to 1,500.
Mountain State bettors can access the action via TVG.
Saturday also is a terrific watch-and-wager day across the horse racing industry.
West Virginia bettors can also access the $1 million Whitney and the $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational for turf horses from Saratoga Race Course via TVG.
Mountaineer offers advance wagering on the entire derby program on Friday in the casino off-track betting area for those who may not wish to attend on race day.
Betting On The West Virginia Derby
Some stalwarts are in this seven-horse West Virginia Derby.
The early 9-5 favorite, Mr. Wireless, looked excellent in securing the $300,000 Indiana Derby in early July. He pulled away impressively down the stretch and prevailed by five lengths at 1 1/16 miles at a good price of 7-2.
The fact that he was running strongly in the final strides is encouraging as he stretches out to 1 1/8 miles.
“Everything has gone really well since his last start,” his trainer Bret Calhoun said. “He’s improving and steadily getting better. It seems like we’re never getting to his bottom — he has a lot of stamina.”
But Mr. Wireless must turn the tables on Warrant, who nipped him in the Texas Derby in May. Warrant worked a sharp 59 2/5 seconds for five furlongs at Ellis Park and enters this race at his best. He was the 5-2 second betting choice.
Bourbonic, 3-1, was one of racing’s Cinderella stories in the spring. He came from dead last to sweep by the entire field in the stretch and capture the Wood Memorial at a record 72-1 odds.
Bourbonic was not able to follow up, finishing 13th in the Kentucky Derby and fifth in the Belmont Stakes. But he drops down in class and to a distance he won the Wood Memorial at 1 1/8 miles. He’s in a good spot here.
How does the field shape up?
Bourbonic breaks from the rail at 3-1 odds and will be ridden by Eric Cancel.
Kinetic Sky, in post two, is 6-1 with Joe Talamo aboard.
Bourbon Thunder, in post three, is 8-1 and will be ridden by Deshawn Parker.
Ramon Vazquez rides the favorite Mr. Wireless out of the four post.
Warrant has the five post, 5-2 odds, and Florent Geroux aboard.
Channel Fury breaks from the six post with Malcom Franklin in the irons and 10-1 odds.
Americainaed is the 50-1 long shot in post seven with jockey Joe Mussaro.
Big Spotlight For Calhoun
Bret Calhoun won the 2019 West Virginia Derby with Mr. Money, who, like Mr. Wireless, entered the race in top form.
He will try to repeat here with the favorite and then win the Whitney with an underdog, By My Standards, at roughly the same time. Calhoun will be in Saratoga.
Charles Town Cha-Ching … Again
Horse racing’s beloved “anything goes” track delivered another gargantuan payday on Friday, July 30.
It was the fourth race, a field of eight, and financial fireworks.
A pair of 50-1 shots, Beyond Pretty and Carolina Bambina, ran first and second. Win Then Grin, 7-2, was third, and Mabel, at 3-5, was fourth.
- $2 exacta paid $1,872
- $1 trifecta paid $12,445
- $1 superfecta paid $28,463
It was the second monster payout in a week for Charles Town, which yielded a $1 superfecta exceeding $41,000 one week earlier.
With many big paydays, one typically can look back and find some betting avenue that would have put the bettor at least in the ballpark of collecting.
Not here. The two longest shots on the board finished first and second. The 3-5 shot ran fourth.
This is another example of why nationwide bettors love Charles Town. Long shots are live and loaded.
Hollywood at Charles Town Races operates live meets Thursday-Saturday at 7 p.m.
Other than Saturday’s special card, Mountaineer runs Sunday-Wednesday at 7 p.m.