08/03/2010 2:03PM

Concord Point tops West Virginia Derby entries


Four graded stakes winners are among the nine 3-year-olds entered to run Saturday in the Grade 2, $750,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park.

Some of the hottest names in racing will participate in the West Virginia Derby with that quartet: Bob Baffert and jockey Martin Garcia with Concord Point, Jerry Hollendorfer and jockey Joel Rosario with Skipshot, Steve Asmussen with Thiskyhasnolimit, and Todd Pletcher with Exhi.

Entries for the 1 1/8-mile race were drawn Tuesday at the Chester, W.Va., track. Concord Point, shipping in from Del Mar, is expected to be favored off his 8 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby on June 26.

Like Concord Point, Skipshot is shipping in from Southern California. Skipshot comes off a mild upset of Sidney’s Candy in the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes on July 17, moving his career mark to 4 wins from 10 starts.

“He’s had a clunker or two along the way,” said Hollendorfer. “But he’s very sharp now. He’s a nice-looking horse, with a long body and a good stride.”

Thiskyhasnolimit, the Iowa Derby runner-up, notched his graded win last fall in the Iroquois Stakes, while Exhi brings a four-race win streak to Mountaineer, including the Grade 2 Coolmore Lexington in April.

From the rail, this is the entire field: Nacho Friend, Thiskyhasnolimit, Skipshot, Not Abroad, Exhi, Gunfighter, Concord Point, Shookstown Road, and Toh’s Grey Cat. Under allowance conditions, Skipshot and Exhi will carry 120 pounds while spotting their opposition 2 to 8 pounds.

The winner will receive at least $435,000, with standard payoffs down through fifth place, along with $7,500 for the sixth- through ninth-place finishers. Entry and starting fees total $3,500 per starter.

Among the other 59 nominees who had been seriously considered but whose connections chose to pass the race were Gleam of Hope and Coffee Boy.

Eight other open stakes also will be run on a sensational nine-race card, with the West Virginia Derby, the eighth race, being televised live on a one-hour broadcast on Fox Sports Net. The show begins at 5 p.m. Eastern and also will include the $125,000 Governor’s Stakes for older horses. First post is at 2 p.m.

This will be the 41st running of the West Virginia Derby. Last year, to great fanfare, the race attracted the Kentucky Derby winner for the first time, although Mine That Bird could only manage a third-place finish behind the 23-1 winner, Soul Warrior, and Big Drama. Soul Warrior, ridden by Dale Beckner, gave Asmussen his third win in the race.