Cupid makes short work of West Virginia Derby rivals

Profile Picture: James Scully

August 6th, 2016

Rafael Bejarano kept Cupid well off the rail and the Bob Baffert-trained colt dominated Saturday’s $750,000 West Virginia Derby (G2) on the lead as the 3-2 favorite. A hard-fought winner of Indiana Derby (G2) in his previous outing, the gray son of Tapit made it look easy over an outside-favoring Mountaineer track, reeling off fractions in :23.51, :47.97 and 1:11.69 before completing 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.54.

A $900,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase by Coolmore’s Magnier, Smith and Tabor, Cupid broke from the rail but quickly abandoned the inside path. He traveled at least eight wide into the stretch, winning by four comfortable lengths over 74-1 outsider Whateverybodywants.

It was another two lengths to 16-1 Name Changer in third and next came Anaximandros, 2-1 second choice Suddenbreakingnews, Forevamo, Adventist, Pinson, Van Damme and No Distortion. Mo Tom and Economic Model were scratched.

A maiden winner when stretching out to a route in early February, Cupid followed with a 1 ¼-length decision in Oaklawn Park’s 1 1/16-mile Rebel (G2) in mid-March. He faded badly as the 4-5 favorite in the Arkansas Derby (G2), exiting the 10th-place effort with an entrapped epiglottis, and was freshened nearly two months after corrective surgery.

Cupid failed to fire when returning in the Easy Goer on the June 11 Belmont Stakes undercard, weakening to last of five as the odds-on choice, but rebounded in the July 16 Indiana Derby at 1 1/16 miles. The West Virginia Derby marked his first win at 1 1/8 miles and while the improving 3-year-old remains eligible to be pointed toward a Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) bid, the two-turn Dirt Mile (G1) at Santa Anita may be a more viable option.

With the $446,250 payday, Cupid pushed his earnings into triple-digits, $1,326,803, from an 8-4-1-0 record. He was bred in Kentucky by JKG Thoroughbreds and is out of the Grade 2-placed Beau Genius mare Pretty ‘n Smart, who has also produced Grade 3 winners Ashley’s Kitten and Heart Ashley; and stakes victor Indianapolis.

(Coady/Mountaineer Photo)