McCormick looks to step up in West Virginia Derby

Profile Picture: James Scully

August 5th, 2017

A pair of classic-placed sophomores, Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin at Lee and Belmont Stakes third-placer Patch, headline today’s $750,000 West Virginia Derby (G3) at Mountaineer. I will include Patch in multi-race wagers – he’s the fastest among 11 runners based upon BRIS Speed numbers – but am going a different direction with my top selection.

McCormick can put his early speed to good use in a field lacking confirmed front-runners. The improving colt exits a respectable runner-up in his stakes bow, the July 7 Iowa Derby (G3) and rebounded quickly from the effort, posting a trio of workouts for Ian Wilkes in the 29-day interim.

Out of the multiple Grade 1-winning mare Affluent, the son of Hard Spun hails from the female family of Hall of Famer Bayakoa and it’s no surprise McCormick has been a late-developing type given his bloodlines. He broke through with his first win when making his fourth career start in early May at Churchill Downs and followed with a sharp 2 ½-length allowance tally over the same track 4 ½ weeks later.

His BRIS Speed Ratings have increased nicely in recent starts and McCormick dug in gamely when challenged in the stretch at Prairie Meadows last time, yielding only to Triple Crown veteran Hence while finishing a clear second.

We haven’t seen his best yet and I’m expecting another forward move from McCormick today. He should on or very close to the early lead with regular rider Julien Leparoux.

The $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s precedes the West Virginia Derby and I like the chances of Page McKenney, who appears to be rounding back into top form for Mary Eppler after being sidelined in the spring last year. Second in the 1 1/8-mile Mountainview last out, the 7-year-old gelding figures to appreciate the cutback to 8 ½ furlongs with a remarkable 10-8-2-0 record at the distance. He registered a 103 BRIS Speed last time and outside posts have been performing well in dirt routes at Mountaineer.

The Governor’s is the second leg of the Late Pick 4. I will play a ticket four-deep in the opener and will include all seven runners in the final leg.

Here is my 50-cent Pick 4 ticket beginning in race 6 (races 6-9):

4,5,6,9 with 9 with 3,11 with all = $24

Good luck on the West Virginia Derby card!