The top two morning-line choices and 122-pound co-highweights for the $300,000 West Virginia Derby drew the two inside post positions for Mountaineer Park's Saturday feature. Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Hal's Hope, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, will break from post position two under regular rider Roger Velez, while California Derby winner Bet On Red (7-2) drew post position one. A full field of 12 3-year-olds were entered in the 1 1/8-mile race.
After winning the Florida Derby, Hal's Hope finished eighth of eight in the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), 16th in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), and eighth of eight in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Hal's Hope was given a break following the Preakness and returned to the races in mid-July, finishing seventh in the six-furlong Carry Back Stakes, won by crack sprinter Caller One.
"In retrospect, we should have skipped the Blue Grass Stakes," said owner and trainer Harold Rose. "By the time Hal's Hope got to the Kentucky Derby, he was tired. That's not the case now."
The field for the West Virginia Derby -- with jockeys, weights, and morning-line odds -- will consist of:
1--Bet On Red, Anthony D'Amico, 122, 7-2
2--Hal's Hope, Roger Velez, 122, 5-2
3--Inner Harbour, Mario Pino, 113, 12-1
4--Miner's Prize, Jon Court, 113, 6-1
5--Mass Market, Rick Wilson, 118, 8-1
6--Prince War Cloud, Anthony Diugopolski, 115, 20-1
7--Strike Three, Richard Migliore, 111, 20-1
8--Concerned Minister, Mark Johnston, 113, 9-2
9--Connect, no rider named, 117, 20-1
10--Miami Blase, Scott Spieth, 117, 30-1
11--Eagle Time, Jane Magrell, 117, 30-1
12--Frazee's Folly, Shane Sellers, 113, 8-1