Recapturetheglory, a solid fifth in a 20-horse field in this year’s Kentucky Derby (gr. I), seems well-placed for a return to his winning ways in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort Aug. 2.
The Derby, with post time set for 5:15 p.m., is the eighth of nine races on an all-stakes program that begins at 2 p.m EDT. The Derby will be broadcast live during a 5-6 p.m. program on ESPN.
Owned by Louie Roussel III and Ronald Lamarque, Recapturetheglory earned a spot in the Kentucky Derby by winning the grade II Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Race Course in his previous start. The Kentucky-bred colt by Cherokee Run out of the Dehere mare Cold Awakening took quick command in the 1 1/8-mile Illinois Derby and wired six other foes.
In the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby, Recapturetheglory rated in third from post 18, bid for the lead near the top of the stretch and flattened out a bit to finish fifth, 11 3/4 lengths behind victorious Big Brown. He returned to Churchill Downs in June, and finished a troubled fourth in the Northern Dancer Stakes (gr. III) at 1 1/16 miles.
Recapturetheglory has been training on Polytrack at his Arlington Park base for Roussel in preparation for his start in the West Virginia. The colt has won twice, both times on dirt, but makes his debut on the Mountaineer dirt.
Cherokee Run also is the sire of Zanjero, who won last year’s West Virginia Derby and is entered in the $125,000 West Virginia Governor’s Stakes on the Derby undercard.
Recapturetheglory, who drew post six in a 12-horse field and will be ridden for the first time by James Graham, likes to run on the lead but also has done well from just off the pace. All the Derby entrants have been racing at least one mile, so it’s a tough call as to which ones will commit to gunning for the lead.
J. Mack Robinson’s Cherokee Artist appeared on the graded-stakes scene in late May with a second-place finish behind Smooth Air in the Ohio Derby (gr. II) off a victory in maiden special weight company at Churchill. Cherokee Artist, also by Cherokee Run and trained by Graham Motion, then finished second, beaten a half-length, in the Barbaro Stakes (gr. III) at Delaware Park.
Another Mid-Atlantic shipper is Brereton Jones’ Proud Kentuckian, who enters his first stakes off three straight wins in allowance events at Delaware Park for trainer Larry Jones. Proud Kentuckian, by Proud Citizen, defeated older foes in his last two starts and has been highly regarded by his connections.
In the sixth race on the Aug. 2 program at Mountaineer, Tea Party Stable’s Fabulous Strike, an early favorite for last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) before he was sidelined with an injury, is entered along with stablemate Are You Serious in the $110,000 Harvey Arneault Breeders’ Cup Memorial Stakes at six furlongs. Dana Whitney is named to ride both horses for trainer Todd Beattie, and it remains to be seen whether Fabulous Strike, who most recently worked at Saratoga, will compete.
Fabulous Strike, by Smart Strike, won his 2008 debut in June in a stakes at Delaware Park and is three-for-three at Mountaineer, all in stakes.
Also on the card, Pyrite Stables’ Bernie Blue, a 6-year-old Bernstein gelding, seeks a repeat score in the West Virginia Legislature Chairman’s Cup (race two) at 4 1/2 furlongs. Bernie Blue, trained by Miguel Feliciano, is a local favorite with a record of 11 wins, nine seconds, and one third in 23 starts at Mountaineer.
Here’s the field for the West Virginia Derby, in post-position order with jockeys and weights:
1. Web Gem (Jorge Chavez) 111 pounds
2. My Pal Charlie (Jaime Theriot) 116
3. Cherokee Artist (Garrett Gomez) 111
4. Acting Zippy (Dana Whitney) 111
5. Z Fortune (Shaun Bridgmohan) 117
6. Recapturetheglory (James Graham) 119
7. Ready Set (Julien Leparoux) 111
8. Proud Kentuckian (Gabriel Saez) 111
9. Stolen Chevy (Rex Stokes III) 111
10. Marble Cliff (Luis Martinez Jr.) 113
11. Real Appeal (Jesus Castanon) 113
12. I’ve Heard It All (Ricardo Feliciano) 111
The West Virginia Derby is featured on this week's That Handicapping Show.