Skip to main content

California Invaders Get The Call On West Virginia Derby Morning Line


Tom LaMarra


Thu, Aug 2, 2018


Date: Aug. 2, 2018

From: Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort

California Invaders Get The Call On West Virginia Derby Morning Line

The top two finishers in the grade III, $150,000 Los Alamitos Derby were assigned the lowest odds in the morning line for the $500,000 West Virginia Derby for 3-year-olds at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort Aug. 4, but it will be interesting to see how that plays out in a what appears to be, on paper at least, a very contentious event.

Once On Whiskey, trained by Bob Baffert for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman, is listed as the 5-2 favorite on the morning line, which is an educated assessment of how the public will wager. The second choice at 3-1 is C R K Stable’s Draft Pick, who finished second, beaten a head, in the Los Alamitos Derby.

Once On Whiskey, the only entrant with a victory at the West Virginia Derby distance of 1 1/8 miles, won the Los Alamitos Derby in his first start around two turns for jockey Flavien Prat, who will ride the colt again at Mountaineer on Saturday. Once On Whiskey went from last to first in a five-horse field after a slow start and covered the distance in a respectable 1:48.93 on a fast track.

Horses trained by Baffert, who has won three editions of the West Virginia Derby, usually attract plenty of support in the wagering at Mountaineer.

Racing secretary Joe Narcavish has Shortleaf Stable’s High North and Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister’s Mr Freeze at 4-1 and 9-2, respectively. They finished first and second in the $250,000 Iowa Derby July 6. The fifth choice on the line at 6-1 is Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing’s Lionite, who finished a close third in the Iowa Derby and will be reunited with jockey David Cabrera, who rode the colt one time—a 5 ¼-length victory in the Prairie Meadows Mile June 8.

Asmussen is a regular in the West Virginia Derby and has five victories in the race.

Next in line at 6-1 is Wertheimer and Frere’s Rugbyman, who exits an even fourth-place finish in the grade III, $300,000 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park in New York July 7 for trainer Graham Motion. Jorge A. Vargas Jr., a top rider in the Mid-Atlantic region, is named to ride Rugbyman for the first time.

As for the remainder of the nine-horse Derby field, Kramer Racing, Nice Guys Stables and Steven Keh’s King Cause, fourth in the Los Alamitos Derby, is 4-1 on the morning line; Glockenberg LLC’s Pamir, a two-time winner at Mountaineer, is 30-1; and Michelle Winters’ Caloric, most recently fourth in an allowance race at Presque Isle Downs & Casino, is listed at 50-1.

Jim Colvin, who manages racing operations at Mountaineer, said many of the Derby entrants were scheduled to be on the grounds by the evening of Aug. 2.

The Derby is the eighth race on a nine-race card that begins at the special post time of 2 p.m. There will be seven stakes on the Saturday program bookended by a pair of $25,100 West Virginia-bred allowance races that feature several horses that will compete in the West Virginia Breeders Classics in October at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.

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


Sign up for email offers

Invalid email address
Tell us your interests:

Thank you

Thank you for signing up to become an Email Insider! You’ll be among the first to receive offers and promotions from Mountaineer Casino!

Update your preferences