June 22, 2024

Mr. Money heavily favored to cash again in West Virginia Derby

Mr. Money takes the Pat Day Mile (c) Horsephotos.com/Cecilia Gustavsson

Mr. Money has been just that all spring and summer, racking up stakes win after stakes win. On Saturday, the Bret Calhoun-trained son of Goldencents aims for his fourth straight victory in the $500,000 West Virginia Derby (G3) at Mountaineer, for which he was made the 6-5 morning line favorite.

The win streak commenced in the Pat Day Mile (G3) on the Kentucky Derby undercard, which Mr. Money dominated by more than five lengths as a 7-1 chance. He’s been an odds-on scorer when taking the Matt Winn (G3) and Indiana Derby (G3) in his last two, also by comfortable margins.

After a recent work, it was decided to point Mr. Money to the West Virginia Derby rather than aim higher in a race like the Travers (G1).

“Honestly, I let Bret direct the course, but we pretty much made up our minds after the workout (last Friday),” owner Chester Thomas said. “He’s certainly fresh enough, and the West Virginia Derby seemed the best path to do. We went back and forth with the pros and cons and decided the best course is to race (this weekend).

“The mile-and-an-eighth is a bump up in distance for him, but it seems like he can run all day. It’s going to be a tough race, though. We’ve been picking our spots, and so far so good.”

Plus Que Parfait, who captured the UAE Derby (G2) in March, drops in class after running ninth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and sixth in the Belmont Derby (G1) on the turf. Math Wizard has run solidly in his last two, finishing a close second to Owendale in the Ohio Derby (G3) and third in the Indiana Derby, four lengths behind Mr. Money. The lightly-raced Top Line Growth has won three of four, and was most recently elevated to first in the $250,000 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows via disqualification.

Seven of the nine races at Mountaineer on Saturday afternoon are stakes. The only other graded event is the $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s (G3) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles. Sir Anthony, last-out winner of the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker H. (G3), will square off against the likes of Silver Dust, Sky Promise, Exulting, Kukulkan, Snapper Sinclair, and Exclamation Point.