08/01/2013 1:02PM

Mountaineer Park: West Virginia Governor's Stakes has speed to spare

Coady Photography
Taptowne enters the West Virginia Governor’s Stakes on Saturday off a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap in June.

CHESTER, W.Va. – Horseplayers trying to figure out the setup of the $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s Stakes on Saturday at Mountaineer are in for a difficult time since a majority of the older horses in the 1 1/16-mile race can be fairly classified as speed horses.

Even with Warrioroftheroses and Percussion already having been scratched, leaving a field of no more than six, the race still has a great deal of speed. Eighttofasttocatch, Whatthecatdrugin, Taptowne, and Ojos de Hielo all flaunt an abundance of “1s” on their past performances.

Tim Glyshaw, the trainer of Taptowne, believes he has a solution to the problem.

“We’ve always thought he would run his best from off the pace,” said Glyshaw, who has enlisted Calvin Borel to ride for the sixth consecutive time. “I think this sets up for him to run the way we think he can, and Calvin does, too. He’s been on the lead by default in most of his races. Hopefully, he can sit a nice trip.”

Fair enough. But in case Taptowne can’t be eased off the early pace to make a winning bid, the two most logical prospects to simply outlast the others are Eighttofasttocatch, a classy Maryland shipper, and Whatthecatdrugin, whose local record (3 wins and 3 seconds from 6 starts) is outstanding. Or, if the race completely falls apart, then it could be the Todd Pletcher-trained Mordi’s Miracle and jockey Rosie Napravnik who capitalize late.

The Governor’s, the richest of the supporting races on the all-stakes card at Mountaineer, was won last year by eventual Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Tapizar, trained by Steve Asmussen. It directly precedes the West Virginia Derby as the seventh of nine races and will be shown live on a Fox Sports broadcast that starts at 5 p.m. Eastern, with post time set for 5:12. First post is at 2 p.m.

In the other seven stakes, all worth $100,000:

◗ Mountaineer Juvenile (race 1): Kentucky shipper Joedini is the probable favorite for Tom Amoss after easily winning his lone start, although several other 2-year-olds figure to take plenty of action in this six-furlong race.

Among the challengers are Rise Up, a Cleveland shipper with Napravnik to ride, along with Bisque and Mister Pollard, both last-out maiden winners at Indiana Downs.

Joedini, by Bernardini, will have Deshawn Parker aboard. Parker, a two-time national leader by wins (2010-11) and the perennial leading jockey at Mountaineer, is in a battle with Luis Rivera and Christian Pilares for the top spot at the 2013 meet. Parker is named to ride seven races here Saturday.

◗ West Virginia Legislature Chairman’s Cup (race 2): Fans probably won’t be able to resist the triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure that Back Forty boasts from his most recent race at Oaklawn Park in April and could make him the favorite in this 4 1/2-furlong race. Joshua Navarro will be in from Delaware Park to ride for trainer Mac Robertson. Top threats in a field of eight include Bet Seattle, trained by Robertson’s father, Hugh.

◗ West Virginia Secretary of State (race 3): Fourteen fillies and mares are entered, although a maximum of 12 can start in this extremely competitive six-furlong race. Recent acquisition Fusaichiswonderful makes an intriguing first start for trainer Tevis McCauley, while Ms Anna Destiny, a last-out winner for Brad Cox, also steps up in good form.

◗ Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies (race 4): A couple of Kentucky shippers, Lady Red Di and and Silver Valley, bookend a field of nine as prime contenders in this female counterpart to the day’s opener. Lady Red Di earned a field-high 65 Beyer by winning last out as the favorite at Indiana Downs, while Silver Valley exits a couple of rugged stakes, the Debutante and Schuylerville.

“I’ve still got confidence in our filly,” said Ron Moquett, the trainer of Silver Valley. “She’s got a good mind. I like that we drew outside because that gives the jock [Ricardo Santana Jr.] more options.”

◗ West Virginia Senate President’s Cup (race 5): Kentucky shippers look like the goods in this one, too, with Prissy and Soft Whisper coming off an excellent Churchill spring meet. Others in with a chance in this two-turn grass race are Ask Me Anything, Proenza, and Hennyville.

◗ Sen. Robert C. Byrd Memorial Stakes (race 6): Gentlemen’s Bet would be a big favorite in here, but Moquett said he intends to scratch him in favor of the Grade 1 Vanderbilt on Sunday at Saratoga. That would leave no more than five starters in this six-furlong race, with Charles Town shipper Russell Road and his remarkable career record of 25 for 43 as the horse to beat.

◗ West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup (race 9): The finale on Mountaineer’s showcase day typically comes up deep, and that’s the case again this year, with Derby Kitten, Hammers Terror, and the comebacking Saint Pierre (Napravnik to ride) the major players in a field of 10 turf routers.