07/29/2009 11:00PM

Quick pace benefits Encaustic in Governor's

Four-Footed Fotos
Shadowbdancing figures to be part of pace in the Governor's Stakes.

CHESTER, W.Va. - Like pretty much any other track you can think of, Mountaineer Park surrounds its best race of the year with a slew of other stakes. And so it follows that when the Grade 2, $750,000 West Virginia Derby is run Saturday, it will be as part of a nine-race, all-stakes program offering some $645,000 in additional purses.

The richest of those supporting races, the $125,000 West Virginia Governor's Stakes, also happens to be one of the deeper races on the card. Shadowbdancing ships in from Arlington Park off a series of sharp stakes efforts, but he may not be able to shake free from another Chicago speedster, It's Never to Late, possibly setting the table for a closer such as Dubious Miss or Encaustic.

"I like it that there's so much speed in there," said Mark Shuman, trainer of Encaustic, whose 2009 campaign includes three efforts that earned Beyer Speed Figures of 97 or better. "We just acquired him two starts back, and I really think he can improve off his last race," a runner-up finish in a July 11 allowance at Monmouth Park.

Eight older horses are entered in the 1 1/16-mile Governor's Stakes, which directly precedes the West Virginia Derby as the seventh of nine races and will be part of the live broadcast on Fox Sports Net (5-6 p.m. Eastern).

First post Saturday is 2 p.m. In the other Saturday stakes:

* $85,000 Mountaineer Juvenile (race 1): Last year's winner, Terrain, went on to finish second in the Breeders' Futurity and fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. This year's race probably will have the Steve Asmussen-trained Prince Rooney as the favorite off a flashy lone start at Arlington. Zip in Time and Angus Khan are the logical threats.

* $85,000 West Virginia Legislature Chairman's Cup (race 2): Bernie Blue was a run-off winner here in the July 4 Dale Baird Memorial, while Trust or Bust was well beaten as the favorite in that race. They're rematched among a field of nine older horses at 4 1/2 furlongs.

* $85,000 West Virginia Secretary of State (race 3): A Rose for You might bring a slight class edge into this six-furlong filly-mare race, but she has been away more than five months, and there is plenty of capable opposition in a field of 11, including Nadeshiko, Tequilas Dayjur, Tiz to Dream, and Big Easy.

* $85,000 Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies (race 4): The filly counterpart to the Saturday opener probably will have Bronx City Girl as the choice, considering her 12-length maiden win (and 84 Beyer) here in June, although For Royalty and Yes It's Valid look fairly strong, too.

* $110,000 West Virginia Senate President's Stakes (race 5): One of the more well-matched races of the day drew a handful of viable contenders whose last start came at a wide variety of tracks. Beautiful Venue, a Kentucky mare who shipped in to win the Firecracker here July 4, is a tepid morning-line choice and surely would have to run huge again to repeat.

* $110,000 Harvey Arneault Memorial (race 6): Except for maybe Mine That Bird in the West Virginia Derby, the biggest favorite of the day should be Ravalo, the multiple-stakes-winning Maryland speedster exiting a victory in a Grade 3 race on the Preakness undercard. Vicarian and Godolphin Gray ship in from Kentucky as the main threats.

* $85,000 West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker's Cup (race 9): Yate's Black Cat comes off a gritty win over the Churchill Downs turf and has faced monsters such as Einstein and Shakis within the last year. He's a deserving favorite, although Blues Street, returning from Delaware for a third straight Mountaineer race for Todd Pletcher, is a worthy foe.