NEW CUMBERLAND - A field of nine has drawn in for Saturday's 44th running of the Grade 2, $750,000 West Virginia Derby. The 1 1/8-mile event anchors a nine-race card comprised entirely of unrestricted stakes at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort. Post time for the first race will be 2 p.m.
Overanalyze, from five-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher's stable, is the most accomplished entrant. A 4 -length winner of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park in April, Overanalyze will be ridden in the West Virginia Derby by Rosie Napravnik.
One of the most accomplished jockeys this year in the United States, the 25-year-old Napravnik through Monday ranked fourth nationally with 174 wins and fifth in purse earnings with $8.14 million. This will be Napravnik's first try at a West Virginia Derby victory.
FAVORITE — Overanalyze, seen here winning the Arkansas Derby, is the 7-5 West Virginia Derby morning line favorite.
-- Coady Photography
Departing, a 3 -length winner of the Grade 3 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne in April, will ship to Mountaineer with trainer Albert Stall Jr. In 2010, Stall sent out Blame to hand Zenyatta her only career defeat in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic. Robbie Albarado, who piloted the 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, has the mount on Departing.
Trainer Steve Asmussen, who has a record four prior victories in the West Virginia Derby, is sending Betweenhereandcool to this year's edition of the race. In late June, Betweenhereandcool was a fast-closing second, missing victory by just a neck, in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows. Ricardo Santana Jr. will attempt to become the fifth jockey to win the West Virginia Derby on an Asmussen horse.
Ruler of Love, who won last year's Kentucky Downs Juvenile Stakes, has already placed in a trio of black-type events this year - including the Grade 3 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs. Trained by Joan Scott, Ruler of Love will be ridden at Mountaineer by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel, who will inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame on Aug. 9
Stratocruiser, who finished second by a neck in the Grover Delp Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park in late May, will compete in the West Virginia Derby with jockey Alex Cintron aboard. Stratocruiser is by the multiple Grade 1 winning sire Langfuhr, who will also be represented in the race by Say Ow, a two-time winner at the 1 1/16-mile distance at Hollywood Park.
Shaler, who broke his maiden at first asking at Parx Racing (formerly Philadelphia Park) last December, has twice placed in allowance company this year at Presque Isle Downs. He will be ridden in the West Virginia Derby by Deshawn Parker, who has the most Mountaineer wins of any jockey in history, and who rode Bourbon Courage to a second-place finish in last year's West Virginia Derby edition.
Completing the West Virginia Derby field are Mi Sto Divertendo, who won in $15,000 maiden claiming company at Mountaineer last October; and Ledokol, who has thrice competed in stakes, but has yet to graduate from the maiden ranks.
The entirety of Saturday's Mountaineer card offers purses totaling $1.65 million. The West Virginia Derby winner will receive $435,750. The race will be televised live throughout most of the U.S. via Fox Sports Networks.
Chris Lincoln will be the telecast host, Kurt Hoover will be the analyst and Jill Byrne will handle reporting duties. The hour-long show will begin at 5 p.m., and the West Virginia Derby's post is scheduled for 5:45 p.m.
Throughout West Virginia Derby afternoon, handicapping assistance will be provided on the deck of the Mountaineer grandstand apron by "Thoroughbred Night School" personnel - Jeremy Plonk, Caton Bredar and Tim Brannan. They will do a complete analysis of the West Virginia Derby card.