07/28/2015 12:06PM

Bent On Bourbon moving up in West Virginia Derby

Jack Coady/Coady Photography
Bent On Bourbon wins the Iowa Derby on June 27 at Prairie Meadows.

The West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer on Saturday drew a competitive field of 11 when entries were taken Monday, with Peter Pan winner Madefromlucky the likely favorite and Preakness runner-up Tale of Verve a top contender.

An up-and-comer in the group is Bent On Bourbon, who has been successfully moving up the ladder in both class and distance for trainer Eddie Kenneally and Bourbon Lane Stable. Bent On Bourbon will try to take another step forward in the 1 1/8-mile West Virginia Derby, which will be his toughest test to date.

Bent On Bourbon has won three races in a row. His three-length score in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby followed an optional-claiming win and maiden score at Churchill Downs.

“He’s on the improve,” Kenneally said. “The distances have been lengthening as we’ve stretched him out, and he’s been getting better. “The Iowa Derby was his first two-turn race, and the way he got 1 1/16 miles tells me he’ll be okay at a mile and an eighth.”

Somewhat surprisingly, the Iowa Derby has proved a successful prep for the West Virginia Derby. Bob Baffert won both races back to back in 2010 and 2011 with Concord Point and Prayer for Relief, respectively.

In addition to Madefromlucky, Todd Pletcher entered Long Branch winner Stanford and Tommy Macho in the West Virginia Derby. Those two, along with the Tony Dutrow-trained Tekton, are cross-entered in the Curlin Stakes on Friday at Saratoga.

The West Virginia Derby field also includes Long Branch runner-up Souper Colossal; Iron Fist, who has won two races at Santa Anita for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer; War Story; Thirtysilverpieces; and Alliseeisgold.

All nine races at Mountaineer on Saturday are stakes, and total purses of $1.65 million will be up for grabs. The card will be streamed live on DRF.com.

The star of the undercard is Work All Week, who won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last year and was voted champion male sprinter of 2014. Work All Week, who is coming off a second in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint at Gulfstream Park for trainer Roger Brueggemann, will face seven rivals in the $100,000 Sen. Robert C. Byrd Memorial, a six-furlong sprint.

The richest undercard race is the $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s at 1 1/16 miles. The 12-horse Governor’s includes Albano, Carve, East Hall, Page McKenney, and Commanding Curve.