Madefromlucky heads West Virginia Derby field in flux

Profile Picture: James Scully

July 29th, 2015

Peter Pan (G2) winner Madefromlucky is the horse to beat in Saturday’s $750,000 West Virginia Derby (G2) at Mountaineer. Eleven were entered but at least five will be cross-entered to other stakes this weekend.

There are too many 1 1/8-mile stakes for three-year-olds this weekend. Along with the West Virginia Derby, Saratoga will offer the $100,000 Curlin on Friday and $600,000 Jim Dandy (G2) on Saturday, and Monmouth Park’s centerpiece event, the $1.75 million Haskell Invitational (G1), takes place on Sunday.

Expect short fields in all four races as a result of the gluttony and it’s particularly difficult to understand why Saratoga dilutes its own product by running the Curlin and Jim Dandy on back-to-back days.

Madefromlucky, who was entered along with stablemates Stanford and Tommy Macho, is likely the only Todd Pletcher trainee to start in the West Virginia Derby.

Joe Bravo will pick up the mount on the Lookin at Lucky colt, who is making his first appearance since a sixth in the Belmont Stakes (G1). Madefromlucky also recorded a non-threatening second to American Pharoah in the Rebel Stakes (G2) earlier this season.

Bent on Bourbon will attract support with a three-race win streak in tow. After breaking his maiden and winning an entry-level allowance at Churchill Downs, the Eddie Kenneally charge registered a sharp three-length tally in his stakes bow last out, the June 27 Iowa Derby (G3). Corey Lanerie will regain the mount.

Tale of Verve is another serious challenger confirmed for the West Virginia Derby. The Dallas Stewart-trained colt followed a maiden special weight tally at Keeneland with a runner-up finish in the Preakness Stakes (G1). He’ll be looking to rebound from a seventh in the Belmont Stakes with Robby Albarado.

The entire nine-race program at Mountaineer Saturday is comprised of stakes races.

Carve will make a title defense in the $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s, a 1 1/16-mile event that could easily receive Grade 3 status next season. The Brad Cox-trained gelding will face several notable rivals in the 12-horse field, including 2014 Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up and recent allowance scorer Commanding Curve; Grade 3 victor Albano; Pimlico Special (G3) runner-up Page McKenney (Eavesdropper); and last-out stakes winner Edge of Reality.

Champion sprinter Work All Week, second in both starts this season, is the 3-5 morning line favorite against seven rivals in the $100,000 Robert C. Byrd Memorial at six furlongs. Kiss the Moon, who exits a victory in the Mint Julep (G3) at Churchill Downs, tops a field of 12 turf distaffers in the $100,000 West Virginia Senate President’s Cup.

Two-year-olds are in the spotlight in the $100,000 Mountaineer Juvenile and $100,000 Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies. The remaining stakes are the $100,000 West Virginia Legislature Chairman’s Cup, $100,000 West Virginia Secretary of State and $100,000 West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup.