WHEELING - Lawtoncircle, the post-time favorite at odds of 8-5, won the first race on Friday's night's card that commenced the 63rd season of racing at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort.
The eight-year-old gelding, trained by Brent Angelle and ridden by Luis Quinones, closed strongly in the stretch to prevail by two lengths. Lawtoncircle's final time for the five-furlong event for $5,000 claimers was 1:01.91 on a track rated "good."
Lawtoncircle is a Louisiana-bred his effort on Friday was his 51st career start, and the first he has ever made outside of his home state. It was also his first victory since October 1, 2011, at Delta Downs.
THE?WINNER — Lawtoncircle, ridden by Luis M. Quinones, drove to a two-length victory in the opener at Mountaineer Racetrack on Friday, commencing the 63rd season at the Hancock County oval.
Angelle doesn't race horses with great frequency at Mountaineer, but when he does he gets impressive results: from 80 career starts here, he has gained 25 wins along with 25 placings, for a strike ratio of 37.5% and a win-place-show ratio of 62.5%. For Quinones, it was his 536th career victory.
Vaulted Son, a three-year-old colt making his third career start, graduated from the maiden ranks impressively in the sixth race, drawing leading wire-to-wire and increasing his margins at every call to win by 13 lengths.
It was career win number 4,961 for jockey Terry D. Houghton. It was also the 594th career triumph for trainer Bart Baird, who is a son of the late Dale Baird the latter's all-time win total of 9,445 remains the world record for a Thoroughbred conditioner.
Bart Baird has been a licensed trainer since 1995. Vaulted Son was purchased for $1,700 as a weanling his $11,640 share of the purse on Friday brought his career earnings to $16,920. As the even-money favorite, Vaulted Son returned mutuels of $4.00, $3.00 and $2.20.
Called to Serve, who finished a fast-closing third in last year's Grade 2 West Virginia Derby, is 6-1 in the morning line for Saturday's Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap at Santa Anita Park.
The "Big Cap" is one of the most prominent stakes for older horses in North America. Following his West Virginia Derby effort, Called to Serve finished second by a nose in the Temperence Hill Stakes at Belmont Park; was a 4 -length winner of the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct; and was a 5 -length winner of the Broad Brush Stakes at Laurel Park.
All three races were run at nine furlongs, and Called to Serve displayed a strong closing kick each time. The extra furlong in the 1 -mile Santa Anita Handicap should suit him. Called to Serve will be ridden by Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, who recently came out of retirement.
Post time for the Santa Anita Handicap is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., and the race will be simulcast at Mountaineer.