CHESTER - A field of nine, headed by a trio of Grade 2 winners, has drawn in for the 45th running of the Grade 2, $750,000 West Virginia Derby presented by Xpressbet. The West Virginia Derby highlights a nine-race card comprised entirely of open stakes Saturday at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort.
Post time for the first race will be 2 p.m. The West Virginia Derby will be broadcast live via a one-hour telecast on Fox Sports Network that begins at 5 p.m. The telecast will also provide live coverage of Mountaineer's $200,000 West Virginia Governor's Stakes. The purse distribution for the entirety of the card will be $1.65 million.
The field for the 1 1/8-mile West Virginia Derby includes Candy Boy, winner of the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Memorial at Santa Anita in February; Tapiture, winner of the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs last November; and Vicar's In Trouble, who won the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds in March.
Corey Nakatani (photo by Coady Photography)
Classic Giacnroll, second in the Grade 2 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct in January, is a West Virginia Derby entrant. The field further includes Gold Appointment, a stakes winner at Fair Grounds; and For Goodness Sake, a wire-to-wire two-turn allowance winner at Churchill.
Completing the field are Only I Know, an allowance sprint winner at Mountaineer; Divine View, an allowance/optional claiming winner at Pimlico Race Course; and Key for Success, who has yet to graduate from the maiden ranks.
Candy Boy, trained by John W. Sadler, will be ridden by Corey Nakatani, who won the 2012 West Virginia Derby aboard Macho Macho. Tapiture, trained by four-time West Virginia Derby winner Steve Asmussen, will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik, who finished third in the race aboard Overanalyze in 2013. Napravnik ranks ninth among North American jockeys in purse earnings this year, with $6.86 million.
Vicar's In Trouble is trained by Mike Maker, who two years ago sent out the 3-5 favorite Hansen to a fourth-place finish in the West Virginia Derby. Vicar's In Trouble will be ridden by Alan Garcia, who finished fifth with the longshot Awesome Bet in the West Virginia Derby in 2011.
Napravnik registered a victory on the West Virginia Derby undercard last year, booting Rise Up to a 4 -length score in the Mountaineer Juvenile stakes. Garcia had a pair of mounts, finishing second in both the West Virginia Governor's Stakes with Whatthecatdrugin and in the West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker's Cup Stakes with Derby Kitten.
Locally-based jockey Rex A. Stokes III has been named to ride on two West Virginia Derby horses, Key for Success and Gold Appointment. A substitution will be named aboard one of those mounts by scratch time, which was 9 a.m. today.
Entrants in this year's edition of the $200,000 Governor's Stakes include Moonlight Mullin, who defeated last year's 3-old-old champion Will Take Charge in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill this past June 14; and Carve, who won the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows on June 28.
Three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel will ride Moonshine Mullin for trainer Randy Morse. Jesus Lopez Castanon, who won the 2011 Preakness Stakes aboard Shackleford, will ride Carve for trainer Brad Cox.
All told, 119 horses (including "also eligible") have been entered at Mountaineer on Saturday, a record for a West Virginia Derby card. Each race has lured nine or more entrants. Asmussen has entered a total of seven horses on Saturday, including Mico Margarita in the $100,000 Senator Robert C. Byrd Memorial Stakes.
Admission and general parking at Mountaineer will be free.