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2018 West Virginia Derby Nominations


Tom LaMarra


Wed, Jul 25, 2018


Date: July 25, 2018

From: Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort


Some of the up-and-coming 3-year-olds in the country have been nominated to the $500,000 West Virginia Derby, a grade III stakes that will serve as the centerpiece of the Aug. 4 racing program at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort.

The Derby, at 1 1/8 miles, will be one of nine races on a special Saturday card that will begin at 2 p.m. EDT rather than the customary evening post time at Mountaineer. It will mark the first time that Mountaineer will host two graded stakes—the $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s Cup for 3-year-olds and up was awarded grade III status beginning this year after a review by the American Graded Stakes Committee last fall.

The list of Derby nominees includes three colts and a gelding who in their most recent starts won other Derbies around the country, along with an improving grade II-winning filly.

Slam Dunk Racing’s Axelrod, a colt by Warrior’s Reward, won the grade III Indiana Derby July 14; Shortleaf Stable’s High North, a colt by Midnight Lute, captured the Iowa Derby July 6; Once On Whiskey, a Bodemeister colt owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman, took the grade III Los Alamitos Derby July 14; and Fortified Effort, an Ez Effort gelding owned by Lloyd Yother, Kevin Eikleberry, William Matthews and Marvin Fleming, won the Colorado Derby July 15.

Last year at Mountaineer, A.J. Foyt Jr.’s Colonelsdarktemper parlayed a second-place finish in the Indiana Derby into a victory in the West Virginia Derby.

Sandra Sexton and Brandi Nicholson’s Red Ruby is the lone filly nominated to the West Virginia Derby. Trained by Kellyn Gorder, who usually has a presence in stakes on Mountaineer’s biggest day, the daughter of Tiznow won the grade II Black-Eyed Susan Stakes in May and the grade III Delaware Oaks in her most recent start July 7 against other fillies.

Trainer Steve Asmussen, who has won five editions of the West Virginia Derby—with Tapiture in 2014, Macho Macho (2012), Soul Warrior (2009), Zanjero (2007) and Real Dandy (2005)—nominated two to the race this year. They are Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing’s Lionite, a Quality Road colt who finished a closing third in the Iowa Derby; and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Reride, a Candy Ride colt who finished fifth in the Mystic Lake Derby on the grass in Minnesota in his last outing.

Winchell Thoroughbreds has a good history in the West Virginia Derby, as it raced Tapiture and Zanjero at Mountaineer. Reride and American Lincoln, another Derby nominee, were entered in the $100,000 Curlin Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in New York July 27.

Dale Romans, who won the 2006 West Virginia Derby with Bright One for Carolyn Bruder and Delmar Daubs, nominated Robert Baron’s Promises Fulfilled, winner of the grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes in Florida earlier this year. Promises Fulfilled finished 15th in the grade I Kentucky Derby but rebounded with a good third-place finish in the grade II Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park in New York in his last start.

The Derby field will become clearer after two other major 3-year-old stakes this coming weekend: the $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (grade II) at Saratoga and the $1 million Haskell Invitational (grade I) at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.

The Governor’s Cup, at 1 1/16 miles, attracted 38 nominees including two familiar faces from last year’s West Virginia Derby: Loooch Racing Stable’s Game Over, who finished second, and L and N Racing’s Lookin At Lee, who finished third. Loooch Racing also nominated the 8-year-old gelding Imperative, who in 2017 won the $1.25 million Charles Town Classic (grade II) on West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle.

Entries for the Derby and the other eight races on the program—seven stakes in all—will be drawn July 30.


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


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