Derby shines the spotlight on area

At around 5:45 p.m. Saturday, thoroughbred horse racing fans across the country, and around the world, will turn their attention toward Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort for the 45th running of the West Virginia Derby.

The Grade II stakes race, contested on a 1 1/8-mile track offers a $750,000 purse and attracts some major competition each year. This year promises to be no different.

The Derby, the biggest horse race of the year in West Virginia, will actually be part of a card Saturday which features nine races with up to $1.6 million on the line.

The racing is only one aspect of the day, however, as it gives the Northern Panhandle, and Mountaineer in particular, to showcase some of what our area has to offer for both its citizens and visitors alike.

Thousands of fans make the trip to the Chester track each year for this race, and even more will be watching live as the race is broadcast, bringing a great deal of attention to our area.

The festivities will actually kick off at 8 p.m. today with a performance by comedian Bill Engvall, who is appearing live at the Harv.

Other activities include a car cruise at 11 a.m. near the third turn of Mountaineer’s racetrack, the annual Third Turn Party, a Best Derby Hat contest and a group dance competition.

All in all, the West Virginia Derby gives us all a great opportunity to shine a positive light on our region, allowing us to show the world what makes our area so special.