08/10/2005 12:00AM

W. Va. Derby looks full up

Email

Ablo, Dover Dere, and Magna Graduate are among the top horses expected for the Grade 3, $750,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Race Track on Sunday. The 1 1/8-mile race will anchor an all-stakes card of nine races worth a cumulative $1.5 million, making for the richest day of racing ever in West Virginia.

Dover Dere could go favored following his second-place finish to Surf Cat last out in the Grade 2 Swaps Breeders' Cup at Hollywood Park. He arrived at Mountaineer on Tuesday, and will be ridden by Pat Valenzuela, according to Doug O'Neill, who trains Dover Dere.

West Virginia Derby entries were to be taken on Thursday.

"It looks like it's going to be a full field," said Joe Narcavish, racing secretary at Mountaineer.

Others that Narcavish considers probable for the race include Southern Africa, winner of the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby; Shamoan and Apache Point, the one-two finishes in the Iowa Derby; Devilment and Real Dandy, one-two in the Round Table at Arlington; Golden Man, second in the Grade 3 Leonard Richards in his last start July 17; It's Time To Smile, third in the Grade 2 Ohio Derby; Smokescreen, a stakes-placed colt to be ridden by Mike Luzzi; and Anthony J., who was third in the $1 million Delta Jackpot in December.

Among others under consideration for the race are Bernie Blue, a stakes winner at Mountaineer; Summer Legacy, runner-up in the $100,000 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs; Foolish Cat, a 17-length allowance winner at Mountaineer on July 23; Ready for Roses, who has placed in nine-furlong stakes at Thistledown in his last two starts; and Tepexpan, a stakes winner last out at Fairmount.

The field for the West Virginia Derby is limited to 12 starters. If the race is oversubscribed, first preference goes to the winner of the highest-graded stakes, followed by highest earnings. Southern Africa is the only graded winner of the probables.

Ablo is the leading earner among the probables with a bankroll of $566,602 following his win in the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes last out at Fort Erie.

Next in line is Southern Africa, with $400,070, then Magna Graduate, the runner-up in the Ohio Derby, who has earned $319,082. Officials said Gary Stevens has the mount on Magna Graduate for trainer Todd Pletcher, while Jose Valdivia Jr. will be aboard Shamoan for trainer Eoin Harty.

There is a special afternoon post of 2 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, with the West Virginia Derby scheduled for 5:39 p.m. It will be televised live on ESPN.