A near-record number of 3-year-olds were nominated to the Aug. 7 West Virginia Derby (gr. II) at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort.
In all, 68 horses have been nominated to the $750,000 event at 1 1/8 miles. The Derby will be the featured race on a nine-race card of all stakes that begins at the special post time of 2 p.m. EDT.
“That’s the second-largest group of nominees we’ve ever had—it’s topped only by the 71 received in 2007,” Mountaineer racing secretary Joe Narcavish said in a statement. “We’ve got 20 horses among this year’s nominees who have already won graded stakes, and 15 others who are graded stakes-placed.
“The winner will get $435,000. And even if a horse finishes somewhere from sixth through 10th, he’ll receive $7,500. The money the West Virginia Derby offers constitutes a pretty powerful lure.”
Nominations closed July 26. Track officials said the list of current probable or possible starters includes Olympia Star Inc.’s Skipshot , winner of the grade II Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park July 17; M and M Thoroughbred Partners’ Gunfighter, an impressive winner of three races in a row, the last two at Monmouth Park; Gary Barber’s Coffee Boy, upset winner of the grade II Carry Back Stakes at Calder Casino & Race Course July 10; Kaleem Shah’s Concord Point , winner of the grade III Iowa Derby June 26; Wertheimer and Frere’s Exhi , a winner of four consecutive stakes on Polytrack; Brereton Jones and Tim Thorton’s Trickmeister, three-for-three in his career with all races, including the Barbaro Stakes, at Delaware Park; and Steel Your Faces Stables’ Yawanna Twist, who finished a close fourth in the May 15 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) in his last start.
Entries for the Aug. 7 program will be taken Aug. 3. The West Virginia Derby, along with the $110,000 Harvey Arneault Memorial Stakes for 3-year-olds and up, will be televised live during an hour-long program beginning at 5 p.m. on Fox Sports.