08/05/2010 12:34PM

Shadowbdancing brings strong credentials into bid for repeat in West Virginia Governor's Cup

Jack Coady/Coady Photography
Shadowbdancing, winning the Cornhusker Handicap on June 26, goes for a repeat in the West Virginia Governor's Cup at Mountaineer.

Everything is just how Terrel Gore wants it. Not only is his stable star, Shadowbdancing, coming off a terrific last-out win in the Grade 2 Cornhusker Handicap, but the 5-year-old horse also will be returning to the scene of one of his career-best performances when he races Saturday as the defending champion in the $125,000 West Virginia Governor’s Handicap at Mountaineer Racetrack.

“Last year he acted like he loved that place,” said Gore, who early Friday was scheduled to drive Shadowbdancing himself on the seven-hour van trip from his farm near Kankakee, Ill., to Mountaineer in Chester, W.Va.

Shadowbdancing, a speedy Florida-bred, drew post 2 as a primary contender in the 1 1/16-mile Governor’s, which drew a field of eight older horses. Eddie Razo Jr. will be in from Chicago to ride Shadowbdancing, whose one-length victory in the June 26 Cornhusker at Prairie Meadows was the 10th of his 24-race career.

“In my mind it was the best race he’s ever run,” said Gore, noting that Shadowbdancing rated kindly before rallying from just off the pace for a one-length triumph.

Last year in the Governor’s, Shadowbdancing took command early and never looked back, romping by eight lengths.

“He ran like a wild horse over that track, so I figured this would be a good spot for his next start,” said Gore. “I don’t go searching for tough horses. Just because he won a Grade 2, I wasn’t going to go looking for Blame or Quality Road,” the two stars in Saturday’s Whitney at Saratoga.

The toughest obstacles for a repeat Governor’s score for Shadowbdancing appear to be Demarcation (post 3), a Churchill Downs shipper who has earned more than $425,000 and gets the hot California jockey Joel Rosario; Alma d’Oro (post 4), with Robby Albarado riding for Todd Pletcher; and Z Humor (post 7), whose early career success gives him a race-high bankroll of $733,455.

The Governor’s is the richest supporting event on the all-stakes West Virginia Derby card that begins at 2 p.m. Eastern. It goes as the seventh of nine races and will be shown on the one-hour Fox Sports Net broadcast. In the other undercard races:

◗ $85,000 Mountaineer Juvenile (race 1): Four last-out maiden winners all look legitimate in this six-furlong race that drew 10 2-year-olds, with perhaps Congo, a debut winner at Delaware Park for Claiborne Farm and Todd Pletcher, getting a nod from the fans over Mr. Proud Allen, Storm in the Lake, and Unleash the Humor.

◗ $85,000 Chairman’s Cup (race 2): A full field of older horses is scheduled to contest this mad 4 1/2-furlong dash, with Go Go Shoot, Ju Jitsu Jax, and Bernie Blue all likely to contend.

◗ $85,000 Secretary of State (race 3): The 3-year-old Bickersons, with Joe Bravo riding for Kelly Breen, looks like a class standout, but she will be facing older fillies and mares for the first time while also returning from a 4 1/2-month layoff. Logical alternatives among the other 10 starters include Northern Belle, Simplify, and Pay the Man.

◗ $85,000 Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies (race 4): Minor stakes winners Fastation and Winslet rank in the top flight of these 12 2-year-old fillies, but once again it could be Pletcher who draws the most attention with Surmount, whose lone career start resulted in a 5 1/2-length romp as a Delaware good thing.

◗ $110,000 Senate President’s (race 5): A full field of filly and mare turf runners includes a couple of very sharp 4-year-old fillies in Kiss Mine and Romacaca, both coming off stakes wins. Street Gossip, with Rosario riding, is among the fringe players, along with Ainamaa and Meadow Saffron.

◗ $110,000 Harvey Arneault Memorial (race 6): A very competitive field of 10 older sprinters clashes here, with perhaps Native Ruler and Country Day vying for favoritism in a cast that also includes such capable runners as Golden Country, Captain Cherokee, and Super Robusto

◗ $85,000 House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup (race 9): Pickapocket enters in terrific form for Steve Margolis and could be a slight choice in a deep field of older turf horses. Tangled Tango, Timeless Fashion, Vanquisher, and Allie’s Event also rate.