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Help a Brother Make The Most of Trips to Mountaineer


Tom LaMarra


Tue, Aug 7, 2018


Date: Aug. 5, 2018

From: Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort


Lewis Craig Jr. has said the 9-year-old gelding Help a Brother actually enjoys the 250-mile van ride across the Appalachian Mountains from the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia to its Northern Panhandle.

Help a Brother made the trip for the 10th time in his career to race in a $25,100 West Virginia-bred allowance event that kicked off the Aug. 4 West Virginia Derby program at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort. The journey proved worthwhile.

With Mountaineer-based rider Luis Batista aboard, Help a Brother quickly took command when the gates opened and pulled away to a sharp 6 ½-length victory in 1:10.25 for six furlongs on a track rated fast. A year ago, he won the same type of race on the same day at Mountaineer in 1:11.31.

Is he getting faster as he gets older? Probably not, but Craig’s management has kept Help a Brother racing at the top level of West Virginia-bred company.

The son of Windsor Castle is a homebred owned and trained by Craig and based at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, where he is popular with the local fan base. Help a Brother picked up a check for $14,558 on Saturday to put earnings about $17,000 shy of the $400,000 mark.

“He’s an older horse now, so I usually run him about five times a year,” Craig said. “I look for specific races for him and try to spot him as well as I can.”

The goal each year for Craig and other horsemen with West Virginia-bred runners is the West Virginia Breeders Classics program at Charles Town in October. Help a Brother has made his mark on that night—he has raced in the Onion Juice Stakes the last four years and produced two wins, a second, and a fourth.

Help a Brother has four starts and two victories so far this year, and Classics night is a little more than two months away.

“We might squeeze in a race before then, but maybe not,” Craig said. “I try to give him the best of care. He spends a lot of time on a farm in between races. He’s going to go home now and have a week just eating grass.”

Help a Brother now has four wins, a second and three thirds in 10 starts at Mountaineer, his second home. Another horse on the Derby card, Warleigh, is well on his way to having a big impact at Mountaineer as well.

Owned by Robert Cole Jr. and trained by Kevin Patterson, the 7-year-old gelding by Speightstown was claimed for $20,000 in Maryland last December, and when he returned to racing, Warleigh easily won a five-furlong allowance race on opening night of the 2018 Mountaineer meet.

After two races in Maryland, he returned to Mountaineer and captured the $75,000 West Virginia Legislature Chairman’s Cup at 4 ½ furlongs in a blazing :51.46, a little more than one second off the track record for the distance. And he came from far off the pace, the only horse to do so in a dirt race on the entire program.

“The way the track looked to me, I didn’t think he’d be able to close like that,” said Patterson, who has eight wins in 13 starts at Mountaineer this year. “I was also a little concerned about the heat, because he almost had heat stroke (in Maryland in May). I’d just like to thank Mr. Cole for sticking with me all these years.”

Cole has seven wins in 11 starts at Mountaineer. The team won the same stakes on Derby day the last two years with Roman Officer, who was claimed away for $12,500 after a win at Charles Town July 14. Roman Officer is now owned by Paula Zameroski and trained by Mountaineer-based Shawn Fairman.

The 7-year-old gelding, who prefers to race on the lead, didn’t get the best of starts, was caught wide through fast fractions and flattened out after making a strong run on the turn. He is, however, five-for-seven at Mountaineer, where he is now based.

For more information, contact Tom LaMarra at 859-492-8365 or at


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