08/04/2011 2:21PM

Mountaineer: West Virginia Governor's tops all-stakes undercard


Todd Pletcher will be busy Saturday at Saratoga when running Mission Impazible in the Whitney Handicap and horses in five other races, but perhaps he will find a couple of spare minutes to focus his attention on the goings-on at Mountaineer Park, where Pletcher will have Modern Cowboy as a main contender in the $125,000 West Virginia Governor’s, the secondary feature on an all-stakes Saturday card at the Chester, W.Va., track.

WEST VIRGINIA DERBY DAY: Video Analysis, news, PPs and LIVE streaming video of the entire card.

Pletcher entered the uncoupled duo of Modern Cowboy and Rule in the Governor’s, a 1 1/16-mile race that directly precedes the West Virginia Derby as the seventh of nine races. But Rule stayed home to run instead Thursday at Saratoga, leaving Modern Cowboy as the lone Pletcher runner on the Mountaineer card.

Modern Cowboy, with Rafael Bejarano riding from post 1 in a field that will downsize to no more than nine older horses with the defection of Rule, comes off a sharp runner-up finish in a June 17 allowance at Churchill Downs.

“He’s certainly trained like he came out of his last race in great shape,” Pletcher assistant Michael McCarthy said this week from Saratoga. “He’s well drawn on the rail and he’s got excellent tactical speed, and we’ve got Rafael on him, and that’s always a plus. We’ll ship him down there with the best of intentions.”

Among the top challengers is another Churchill shipper, Demarcation, a multiple stakes winner who captured the Governor’s last year with a run from far back.

“He showed last year that he likes this track,” said Paul McGee, who trains the 7-year-old gelding for Amerman Racing Stables. “The ole boy has come around lately, so hopefully he can do it all again.”

Corey Lanerie has the mount on Demarcation from post 4.

Working backward, here is a brief rundown of the other Saturday stakes at Mountaineer:

◗ $85,000 West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup (race 9): Churchill invaders Strike Impact and Mystic are part of an oversubscribed field for the program finale, a mile-and-70-yard turf race. Baletti and Crimson Comic, shipping in from Fair Hill in Maryland, also rate consideration in a very competitive group of older horses.

◗ $85,000 Sen. Robert Byrd Memorial Stakes (race 6): Eight-year-old Fabulous Strike, one of the top sprinters in North America in 2009 prior to a long layoff, looks to return to form when facing the hard-hitting Native Ruler in a big field in this six-furlong race.

◗ $85,000 West Virginia Senate President’s Cup (race 5): Churchill runners Kiss Mine, Shameless, and Snuggs and Kisses look like the main contenders among the filly-mare turfers that make up yet another big field.

◗ $85,000 Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies (race 4): Bejarano picks up the mount on Flashy Lassie, upset winner of the June 25 Debutante at Churchill for trainer Garry Simms. Culotte, the beaten Debutante favorite, also is part of the oversubscribed cast.

◗ $85,000 West Virginia Secretary of State (race 3): Bejarano will be aboard D’wild Ride when the mare breaks from the outside post as one of the favorites in a full field of filly-mare sprinters. Don’tgetsuspicious, Wildcat Aly, and Won Great Damsel also rate.

◗ $85,000 West Virginia Legislature Chairman’s Cup (race 2): Maryland trainer Damon Dilodovico sends in the ultra-fleet Immortal Eyes, whose only loss in his last five starts came in a photo in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint on the May 21 Preakness undercard. Twelve others are entered in this 4  1/2-furlong dash.

◗ $85,000 Mountaineer Juvenile (race 1): The Juvenile kicks off the program with a 2 p.m. post in what should be quite a scramble. Sixteen 2-year-olds are entered, although only as many as 12 can start, and there is no clear-cut favorite in a symbolic start to a terrific card.

WEST VIRGINIA DERBY DAY: Video Analysis, news, PPs and LIVE streaming video of the entire card.