08/06/2012 1:24PM

West Virginia Derby winner's next stop yet to be determined

Coady Photography @ Mountaineer
Macho Macho, with Corey Nakatani riding, wins the West Virginia Derby.

Macho Macho returned Sunday to Saratoga following his victory in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby the previous day in excellent shape, but his next race has yet to be decided, trainer Steve Asmussen said Monday morning.

Asmussen, having deputized Darren Fleming, watched from Saratoga when his runners swept the two richest races on the Saturday program at Mountaineer Park in Chester, W.Va. He also won the $200,000 Governor’s Stakes with Tapizar.

“I’m extremely pleased with how both horses came back,” said Asmussen. “They’ll go back to the track in the next couple of days, and we’ll try to decide off their training where to run them next.”

Corey Nakatani, in from Del Mar, was aboard both Asmussen winners, and both got great trips. Tapizar, an odds-on choice making his first start in nearly five months, led all the way in the 1 1/16-mile Governor’s, pulling away late to win by 4 1/2 lengths. Macho Macho, the 9-2 second choice in the 1 1/8-mile West Virginia Derby, tracked a pair of front-runners, including odds-on Hansen, before outfinishing Bourbon Courage and Called to Serve in the final furlong.

Macho Macho earned a 79 Beyer Speed Figure in posting his first stakes victory while allowing Asmussen to extend his own record of West Virginia Derby wins to four. Tapizar got a 101 Beyer.

Meanwhile, owner Kendall Hansen said Monday he was very disappointed with the fourth-place finish from his stable star, Hansen, but said the defeat was partly accountable to the fact the colt was hounded from the start by longshot Hero of Order. Hansen the colt was permitted to race with a streak of blue painted in his tail and was the center of attention in prerace discussions.

“It’s pretty embarrassing when you go sticking your neck out and you don’t get the job done,” said Hansen.

Hansen the colt has returned to the Trackside training center in Louisville, Ky., for trainer Mike Maker, and “is 90 percent” to run next in the 1 1/4-mile Travers Stakes on Aug. 25 at Saratoga, said the owner.

“We haven’t given up on the distance,” said Hansen. “If not the Travers,” he added, possibilities included the Smarty Jones at Parx and the Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park.

More disappointment

Hansen is a minority owner in Blueeyesintherein, who was scratched early Saturday after coming up lame as the even-money program favorite for the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies. The good news, said Hansen, is that the filly did not appear to be unsound Sunday, although she has been transported from Mountaineer to a Lexington, Ky., equine clinic for further diagnostics. Trainer Garry Simms was unavailable for further comment Monday.

All in all, it was a bummer of a trip to West Virginia for Hansen, Simms, and company. Simms also sent out the 2-5 favorite in the Juvenile, Circle Unbroken, who was beaten a half-length by Maybe So. Hansen also has a minority share in Circle Unbroken.

Maybe So, trained by Al Stall Jr., earned a 95 Beyer. The colt returned to Keeneland after the race.

Handle well short of record

All-sources handle on the nine-race Saturday card, all of them stakes, was nearly $2.1 million, well short of the record $3.6 million bet in 2009 when Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird finished third in the West Virginia Derby before a crowd of 21,218. Mountaineer did not release attendance for Saturday, although it seemed well short of the 2009 figure. General admission is free at the track.

In the West Virginia Derby show pool, $196,232 of the $237,098 total was bet on Hansen, resulting in respective show payoffs of $11, $15.40, and $23 on the first three finishers.

Correction: An earler version of this article misstated the Beyer Speed Figure earned by Macho Macho in his West Virginia Derby victory.