08/03/2016 2:30PM

Forevamo in right hands for West Virginia Derby

Coady Photography
Forevamo won the Jean Lafitte Futurity at Delta Downs last year.

Departing is entered in the seventh race Saturday at Mountaineer, the $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s Cup. Departing has been to Mountaineer before, in 2013, when he won the West Virginia Derby.

Tom Drury trains Departing now, but Al Stall trained him then, and one race after Departing starts on Saturday, Stall will try to win the Grade 2, $750,000 West Virginia Derby for the second time. On Friday at Saratoga, Stall will put Forevamo on a van bound for Chester, W.Va., with hopes that the colt can duplicate Departing’s success.

“We’re doing the exact same everything we did with Departing,” Stall said. “He’s even in the same stall here Departing was in.”

Forevamo drew post 11 for Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile race and will have Florent Geroux in the irons for the third straight race. Geroux rode him when he finished a closing second to Sharp Azteca in the Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs and was aboard for a three-quarter-length allowance win June 25 at Churchill.

“We gave him a breather after the Pat Day Mile,” Stall said. “We decided to shut him down and try to use that nonwinners-of-two condition at the end of Churchill, and boom, the race showed up just right for him. That was a good race for him. He just galloped past those horses and then kind of waited on them. Florent said, ‘Next time I ride him, I’ll make my move later.’ ”

Forevamo behaved similarly in his win before the allowance race, the Jean Lafitte last fall at Delta Downs, where he swooped to the lead and then seemed to wait on his competition.

“Hopefully, that’s something he just grows out of,” said Stall.

Forevamo is by Uncle Mo. The Brittlyn Stable of Evelyn and Maurice Benoit paid $320,000 for him at an April sale of 2-year-olds in training last year. Forevamo lost two maiden races before winning the Jean Lafitte and has won only twice in nine starts, but he was second to Gun Runner in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds and had a wide trip when fifth in the Louisiana Derby. His connections have long had Saturday’s race marked on their calendars, and Forevamo should be set for a contending performance at a fair price.

The West Virginia Derby is part of an all-stakes card with $1.65 million in purses that begins at 2 p.m. Eastern. The local derby has a scheduled post time of 5:21 and has Cupid, drawn on the rail, as the 3-1 morning-line favorite.

◗ The first horse in the first race on the Saturday card has nothing but 1’s in the column of her running lines signifying finishing position. The 4-year-old West Virginia-bred Navy Ribbon has made seven starts and won all of them. Trained by Jeff Runco, Navy Ribbon will try to run her career mark to eight races without a loss in the $100,000 Hancock County, a six-furlong dash for West Virginia-bred fillies.

Navy Ribbon made her first six starts around the Charles Town bullring and was all out to win a no-conditions West Virginia-bred allowance race last month at Mountaineer. She’s poorly drawn on the rail and will have to improve on that last performance to maintain her perfect record.