04/13/2016 12:16PM

Mountaineer opens 160-day meet


Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort will begin its 160-day season Saturday with a nine-race card topped by a five-furlong, no-conditions allowance.

The Mountaineer season will continue on a Saturday-to-Wednesday schedule through Nov. 26. First post will be 7 p.m. Eastern except on West Virginia Derby Day, Aug. 6, when the races will begin at 2 p.m. The 1 1/8-mile West Virginia Derby, a Grade 2 race, will again be worth $750,000. It was won last year by Madefromlucky, who is trained by Todd Pletcher.

The nine races on West Virginia Derby Day are all stakes and will offer total purses of $1.65 million. Rosemary Williams, the director of racing at Mountaineer, has tweaked the schedule for this year.

“I’ve dropped the Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies and replaced them with two stakes for older West Virginia-breds,” Williams said.

The second-richest race on West Virginia Derby Day is the $200,000 Governor’s Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up. The other stakes are worth $100,000 each.

Mountaineer opened on March 1 last year and was scheduled to run 210 days though Dec. 21 but received permission to drop 50 days from its schedule due to financial concerns and closed in mid-October.

Purses at this year’s meet will average $90,000 a day, the same as last year, according to Williams. Turf racing is scheduled to begin May 1.

The Mountaineer backstretch was closed for the first time this winter and reopened March 1. There are between 600 and 700 horses on the grounds, according to Williams. “I expect more this week,” she said.

Mountaineer will overlap with Mahoning Valley for five weeks, from opening day to April 23 and from Oct. 28 through the end of the season. Mahoning Valley in Youngstown, Ohio, is located 46 miles north of Mountaineer, which is in Chester, W.Va.

“I think the overlap hurts us both at the entry box,” Williams said. “But we run 160 days, and they run 100 days, so you have to overlap somewhere.”

Ninety-four horses were entered for opening day, but there were 13 early scratches, leaving 81 runners, an average of nine per race.

The opening-day feature matches Roman Officer, a winner of two straight allowance races at Charles Town for trainer Kevin Patterson, against Jasizzle, who is based with trainer Tommy Mills at the Thoroughbred Center outside of Lexington, Ky.

◗ There is an opening-weekend T-shirt giveaway. Coupons will be printed in the track program Saturday through Tuesday. The coupons can be redeemed Monday or Tuesday. The supply is limited to 500.

On Sundays and Mondays, beer, soda, and hot dogs will be $1.

2016 Mountaineer stakes schedule

Sat., Aug. 6 West Virginia Derby (G2) 3YO Open 1 1/8M $750,000
Sat., Aug. 6 WV Governor’s Stakes 3YO & UP Open 1 1/16M $200,000
Sat., Aug. 6 The Senator Robert C. Byrd Memorial Stakes 3YO & UP Open 6F $100,000
Sat., Aug. 6 WV Senate President’s Cup 3YO & UP F&M 1M 70YDS (T) $100,000
Sat., Aug. 6 WV House of Delegates Speaker's Cup 3YO & UP Open 1M 70YDS (T) $100,000
Sat., Aug. 6 WV Legislature Chairman's Cup 3YO & UP Open 4 1/2F $100,000
Sat., Aug. 6 WV Secretary of State 3YO & UP F&M 6F $100,000
Sat., Aug. 6 The Northern Panhandle (WV Breds) 3YO & UP Open 6F $100,000
Sat., Aug. 6 The Hancock County (WV Breds) 3YO & UP F&M 6F $100,000