When the first race of the day goes off right around 2 p.m. today at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort, it will mark the beginning of a big day of racing.
The highlight of today's nine-race card will come about 5:40 p.m., with the 43rd running of the West Virginia Derby.
The race consistently brings some of the top horses and riders in the world to the Chester track, and with good reason. The eighth race on the card is listed as a Grade 2 stakes race, which puts it in some pretty exclusive company. Plus, the purse of $750,000 for the 1 1/8-mile event will make it one of the richest races run anywhere in the world today, which isn't too bad for an event that was first held in 1923 at Tri-State Park in Huntington.
When you add the purses from the other races on today's nine-race card, it totals more than $1.65 million.
While offering a day of great racing, the event also presents an opportunity for Mountaineer to show itself off to a broad audience. More than 20,000 fans regularly have come to see the derby card in person, and many thousands more are expected to watch the live telecast of the event on FSN.
It's a chance to show off not only the facilities at Mountaineer, but to shine a positive spotlight on the Tri-State Area.
The continuing success of the derby is a tribute to the management of the track, which works hard to provide a top-shelf entertainment complex for residents of our region and beyond.