West Virginia Derby draws stellar field of nine
Tapiture, recent winner of the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes and Vicar's In Trouble, who won the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby earlier this year, lead a nine horse field in the Grade 2, $750,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer.
Joined by Candy Boy, another top sophomore who recently finished second behind undefeated Shared Belief in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Derby, the field for the West Virginia Derby also includes sharp recent winners For Goodness Sake and Gold Appointment.
For Goodness Sake is my choice to post the upset in the West Virginia Derby, as he is coming off a career best effort when drawing off to win by nearly seven lengths at Churchill Downs at the end of June. Before that, on May 25, For Goodness Sakes won by 10 lengths with a career-best 95 Equibase Speed Figure and at the distance of the West Virginia Derby.
He bettered that with a 102 figure winning easily by six and three-quarter lengths in the Churchill race. With jockey Brian Hernandez aboard for both victories and in the saddle once more, this rapidly improving colt may be able to earn his third win in a row.
Divine View is another horse that could run well and at high odds given that favoritism will go to the three more accomplished runners in the field, Tapiture, Vicar's In Trouble and Candy Boy. Divine View earned a career-best and field-high 104 figure last month when second in an optional claimer at Delaware Park.
Two before that, he won by nearly eight lengths with a 102 figure. From the strong barn of trainer Larry Jones, Divine View gets the services once again of jockey Kerwin Clark, these two having teamed up to take the Matchmaker Stakes last weekend.
Both Vicar's in Trouble and Tapiture can certainly win and for betting purposes it would be foolish to ignore them, particularly when making exacta bets. On the other hand, both will be heavily bet and in terms of their speed figures, neither stands out against For Goodness Sake and Divine View. Tapiture won the Matt Winn Stakes when last seen on June 14, earning a 101 figure. This was his best figure of the year and of his career.
Vicar's in Trouble shot onto the Kentucky Derby prep scene in January when winning the LeComte Stakes with a 105 figure. Two races later he took the Louisiana Derby easily with a 101 figure before a 19th-place effort in the Kentucky Derby, in which Tapiture finished 15th and Candy Boy finished 13th. Both horses' best efforts are good enough to win.
The rest of the West Virginia Derby field, with their best representative Equibase Speed Figures, is Candy Boy (97), Classic Giacnroll (104), Gold Appointment (99), Key for Success (71) and Only I know (80).
For Goodness Sake