Ready Set wins West Virginia Derby


August 03, 2008|By LARRY YANOS

CHESTER, W.Va. -- Ready Set, ridden by jockey Julien Leparoux, survived a foul claim by jockey Jorge Chavez, aboard longshot Web Gem, and captured the Grade III $750,000 West Virginia Derby on Saturday at the Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort.

Following the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds, Chavez claimed interference had occurred around the 3/8-mile pole, but the objection was denied by state stewards.

Leparoux kept Ready Set (9-2 odds) off the pace early in the race, but made a bold move on the rail turning for home and held off a fast-closing Web Gem (25-1) to win by a head before a crowd of 17,298.

"He has a mind of his own," Leparoux said. "If he had set his mind to it, he could have won by 10 lengths. Hopefully, he will improve off this effort."


Leparoux, who was riding Ready Set for the first time, said he had to move the horse a little earlier than he wanted.

"I was expecting a lot of pace, which I got. I was caught in a position at the 3/8 pole and I had to make my move," Leparoux said. "I was there with Web Gem, but I don't think we bothered the horse."

Cherokee Artist, trained by Maryland-based conditioner Graham Motion, took command at the 3/8-mile pole, but Ready Set and Web Gem closed with authority and were clearly better than the other nine horses in the race.

Winning trainer Michael Matz, who also trained Barbaro, was pleased with Ready Set's ride and hopes Leparoux will ride the horse in the Grade II $1 million Pennsylvania Derby in September at Philadelphia Park.

"If Ready Set comes out if the race OK, he will be pointed toward the Pennsylvania Derby," Matz said.

Ready Set has four wins, two second-place finishes and two thirds in 11 career starts. He has earned $596,040.

"Early in the year, I thought Ready Set was the best 3-year-old in the barn. He has had a very good year."

· Motion saddled three horses: Better Than Bonds finished second in the $125,000 West Virginia Governor's Stakes; Cherokee Artist finished fourth in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby; and Salinja won the $85,000 West Virginia House of Delegates "Speaker's Cup."

Representing Charles Town

Charles Town Races & Slots was well represented on West Virginia Derby day.

Jockeys Travis Dunkelberger, Gerald Andover and Sylvester Joseph Carmouche III competed along with trainers Julio Cartagena and Scott Lake.

In the second event of the nine-race card, Carmouche and Dunkelberger battled it out in the $85,000 West Virginia Legislature Chairman' Cup Stakes Cup at 4 1/2 furlongs but Carmouche -- aboard Lacewell -- prevailed over Dunkelberger and Pete's Wonder (trained by Lake) by a neck.

Almodovar, aboard Bettin On MJ, finished seventh for owner-trainer Cartagena.

· Race 6: The $110,000 Harvey Arneault Memorial Stakes at 6 furlongs.

Dunkelberger rode P. Kerney to a third-place finish.

· Race 7: The $125,000 The West Virginia Governor's Stakes.

Dunkelberger rode Alezzandro to a sixth-place finish.

Pony tales

· Da' Tara, who went wire-to-wire to win the Belmont Stakes on June 7, didn't beat a horse last Sunday in the Grade II $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga.

Macho Again -- ridden by Leparoux -- won the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds in 1:51.16, followed by Pyro, Tiz Now Tiz Then, Tale of Ekati, Anak Nakal, Mint Lane and Da' Tara

· Trainer Richard Dutrow has been granted a continuance by Kentucky horse racing officials, pushing back his appeal of a drug suspension.

The Hagerstown native is the trainer of Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Big Brown, who is set to run in the Haskell Invitational today at Monmouth Park.

Dutrow was given a 15-day suspension by Kentucky racing officials last month after another horse he trains exceeded the allowable limit for a drug that enables horses to breathe easier while exercising.

Dutrow has said he eventually will serve the suspension.

· Today's $1 million Haskell Invitational will air live during a 30-minute special at 6 p.m. on ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS and TVG.

Host Joe Tessitore, analyst Randy Moss and reporter Jeannine Edwards will provide the coverage.

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