08/02/2012 12:47PM

West Virginia Derby undercard: Simms seeks sweep of juvenile stakes at Mountaineer

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Circle Unbroken, winner of the Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs, will likely be favored in Saturday's Mountaineer Juvenile.

CHESTER, W.Va. – It’s almost heaven, West Virginia. A fellow like Garry Simms should feel right at home Saturday on the biggest day of racing at Mountaineer Park, surrounded not only by a sizable group of friends, but also amid a crowd of fans not much unlike himself.

“I’ve got a pretty good following for an ol’ country boy,” Simms said Thursday at Churchill Downs, the day before he was leaving for Mountaineer with Circle Unbroken and Blueeyesintherein in tow. “I feel extremely blessed.”

Circle Unbroken and Blueeyesintherein, both with Leandro Goncalves riding, will be favored in the $100,000 Mountaineer Juvenile and $100,000 Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies, which go as the first and fourth races, respectively, on a terrific all-stakes Saturday card. They won graded stakes in June at Churchill when taking the Bashford Manor and Debutante.

“Both horses breezed really well this week, so we’re going up there looking for another sweep,” said the 60-year-old Simms, who was found nearly three years ago with multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer.

Among those owning a minority share in both horses is Kendall Hansen, who has Hansen as a big favorite in the West Virginia Derby later in the day.

“We’re actually trying for a three-way,” laughed Simms.

[WEST VIRGINIA DERBY: Get PPs and watch Saturday’s full card live]

Circle Unbroken was assigned post 1 in a field of 10 colts and geldings in the Juvenile, with Maybe So (post 10, Mike Smith) his chief threat. Blueeyesintherein got post 8 among a field of nine in the Juvenile Fillies, with Scammony and Significant Bling next among the wagering choices. Both races go at six furlongs.

Besides the 2-year-old events, five other stakes worth $100,000 apiece are on the Saturday undercard. In those races:

◗ West Virginia Legislature Chairman’s Cup Handicap (race 2): Immortal Eyes (post 4, Travis Dunkelberger) invades from Maryland for trainer Damon Dilodovico when seeking another conquest in neighboring West Virginia. The 7-year-old gelding won the Charles Town Dash last out, marking his 11th career win and bumping his earnings to a field-high $540,982. A field of 11 goes.

◗ West Virginia Secretary of State Handicap (race 3): Golden Mystery (post 6, Luis Saez) ships from Florida for Marty Wolfson after being overmatched in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney last month, but she fits much better in a six-furlong race that drew an oversubscribed field of fillies and mares. Other major contenders include Tamarind Hall, Yournotthebossofme, Starlite Starbrite, and Speedacious.

◗ West Virginia Senate President’s Cup Handicap (race 5): A few hours before Mike Smith and Mike Maker team together with Hansen, they’ll join forces in this filly-mare turf route with Artemus Kitten (post 3), who seeks a second straight stakes victory after taking the Ellis Park Turf in her latest out. This race also drew an overflow cast, with New York invader Counterparty looking like she fits very well for Todd Pletcher.

◗ Sen. Robert C. Byrd Memorial Handicap (race 6): Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel has a handful of calls on the Saturday card, including one aboard Aristides runner-up Will’s Wildcat in this six-furlong race that drew nine older horses. Will’s Wildcat, trained by Jimmy Baker, will have to run a big one to outfoot Ravalo, an earner of more than $1.2 million for Lindy Redding and trainer Donnie Barr; Guam Typhoon, who risks a six-race win streak for the Midwest Thoroughbreds and trainer Jamie Ness; and Delaunay, winner of an overnight stakes at Churchill last out.

◗ West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup (race 9): Kentucky shippers Middie and Strike Impact are among a well-matched group of older turf runners that also includes El Commodore and Major Marvel as major challengers. The finale is yet another race with an also-eligibles list.