Mountaineer: More Stakes, Derby Purse Hike

Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort will offer a beefed-up stakes schedule in 2005 that includes a purse hike for the West Virginia Derby (gr. III) and the addition of stakes for 2-year-olds.

Mountaineer, where racing benefits from revenue from video lottery terminals, has carded 28 stakes worth more than $3.1 million next year. Almost one-third of them will be run Aug. 14 on one of two afternoon programs all year.

The nine stakes will be topped by the West Virginia Derby, which will go for $750,000, up from $600,000 this year. The Derby is for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles. The West Virginia Governor's Stakes, for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles, got a $25,000 purse hike to $125,000.

Among the seven $85,000 stakes on the special card are two new ones: the Mountaineer Juvenile Stakes at six furlongs, and the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies Stakes at six furlongs. Traditionally, the track has carded no 2-year-old stakes, and in fact has offered no 2-year-old races until the latter part of the year.

In another purse change, the Mountaineer Mile Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at one mile will go for $125,000, up from $100,000. The race is carded for Nov. 12.

Eighteen other stakes will go for $75,000. The first will be held May 7, and the final stakes of the meet Dec. 27.

The July 4 program, traditionally raced at night, will have a 2 p.m. post time like West Virginia Derby day. Three stakes--two on the turf--are carded for July 4.

The 2005 Mountaineer season begins Jan. 15. Racing initially will be held on a Saturday-through-Tuesday schedule, with Friday nights added later.