December 2, 2023

We the People shortens up in West Virginia Derby

We the People wins the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park (Photo by NYRA/Joe Labozzetta/Adam Coglianese Photography)

West Virginia Derby (G3) — Race 8 (5:35 p.m. ET)

We the People lacked the stamina to stay 1 1/2 miles in the Belmont S. (G1) in June, but stands a better chance of seeing out 1 1/8 miles as the likely pacesetter in Saturday’s $500,000 West Virginia Derby (G3) at Mountaineer. In addition to We the People, the field of seven includes fellow Triple Crown participants Skippylongstocking and Simplification.

His lead diminished to a head by the 10-furlong point in the Belmont, We the People was ultimately beaten seven lengths into fourth by Mo Donegal. The Constitution colt had won three of his four prior starts, including a 10-length triumph in the Peter Pan (G3) over a one-turn 1 1/8 miles.

Skippylongstocking, who pressed We the People into submission midway through the Belmont, wound up third, three parts of a length ahead of We the People. That result followed a third-place effort in the Wood Memorial (G2), also won by Mo Donegal, and a fifth in the Preakness (G1).

Simplification, who captured the Fountain of Youth (G2) last winter, is making his first start since a sixth-place run in the Preakness. The Gulfstream-based colt was more effective in the Kentucky Derby (G1) two weeks earlier, closing into the record hot pace to finish fourth, 3 1/2 lengths behind upset winner Rich Strike.

Other West Virginia Derby contenders include the Brad Cox-trained Home Brew, who enters off back-to-back stakes wins in the Oaklawn S. and Pegasus S., the latter a 6 1/2-length romp over the Monmouth Park strip. King Ottoman, who broke his maiden when registering a 10-1 upset of the Texas Derby at Lone Star Park in late May for Steve Asmussen, was most recently third in the Indiana Derby (G3) and figures to like the slightly longer distance of the Mountaineer fixture.

West Virginia Governor’s S. (G3) — Race 7 (4:55 p.m. ET)

Mr. Wireless, the 2021 West Virginia Derby winner, was entered in, but is expected to scratch from, the $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s S. (G3) over 1 1/16 miles. In his absence, multiple graded stakes winners Fulsome and Silver Prospector, entered by the powerhouse Cox and Asmussen stables, are among the top contenders.

Promise Keeper, the 2021 Peter Pan winner, looks to rebound off a sub-par performance against allowance company at Churchill nearly three months ago.