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Zipse At The Track

Forevamo is the Upset Pick in the 2016 West Virginia Derby

An overflow field of 13 has been entered for Saturday’s 47th running of the $750,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort. The Grade 2 test for three-year-olds, run at 1 1/8-miles on the main track, has attracted a solid mix of multiple stakes winners, horses knocking on the door of their first big stakes wins, and dark horses with high hopes.


Mo Tom, already a winner of two graded stakes this year in the Grade 3 LeComte Stakes and the $500,000 Ohio Derby last time, drew post position #3 under jockey Joe Bravo. Bravo looks to have the colt to give him his second straight West Virginia Derby winner, having taken the rich race last summer with Madefromlucky. Despite a string of a bad luck, Mo Tom continues to turn in strong efforts. Trained by Tom Amoss, the son of Uncle Mo bounced back nicely from consecutive trouble in the Risen Star, Louisiana Derby, and Kentucky Derby. In the Ohio Derby, he enjoyed a wide run under new rider, Javier Castellano, on his way to an easy win. Bravo, who will also be riding Mo Tom for the first time, will likely employ similar tactics to keep the G M B Racing runner free to unleash his impressive turn of foot. Although he is only listed as the fourth choice at 5-1 on the morning line, I believe him to be the one to beat on Saturday. [Editor's Note - Mo Tom is scratched from the West Virginia Derby]


Cupid looks like the horse that will need to be caught if you want to win the West Virginia Derby. Despite a pair of disappointing efforts as the favorite in both the Arkansas Derby and the Easy Goer Stakes, the son of Tapit has scored two impressive Grade 2 victories in his past four starts.  In March, he scored his stakes debut in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, and more recently, just three weeks ago, in fact, he took them all the way in the Indiana Derby. The Bob Baffert-trainee should go right to the lead from his rail post and has been listed as the 3-1 morning line favorite.


Another one who brings solid credentials into the West Virginia Derby is Suddenbreakingnews. The Donnie K. Von Hemel trained late runner has not found the winner’s circle since the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, but strong closing efforts in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and the Kentucky Derby point out his class. He ran poorly in the 12-furlong Belmont Stakes in his most recent race, though, and drew the far outside post in this one, so the 9-2 third choice may have his work cut out for him in trying to pick up all the pieces.


The morning line second choice is Economic Model from the barn of Chad Brown. Fresh off a 1-2 finish in Friday’s Curlin Stakes, Brown will look to keep up his good run with the sophomores going with this lightly raced son of Flatter. He comes in off three solid efforts in races at Belmont Park, winning an allowance and the Easy Goer Stakes before finishing second in the Grade 3 Dwyer. This is a bit of a jump up in class for the colt, to be ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, but he may be ready for the challenge. He will look to be stalking the speed of Cupid early.


With the scratch of Mo Tom, I will be on the other Uncle Mo, Forevamo for the upset. He comes in off a nice allowance win at Churchill Downs in late June. Top rider Florent Geroux comes in for the ride, for the bay colt trained by Al Stall Jr., who won this race three years ago with Departing. He’ll break from the 11-hole while trying to do one better than solid runner-up efforts in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds and the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs, earlier this year.


Like Forevamo, No Distortion and Adventist are also 8-1 on the morning line. The latter has hit the board in five consecutive lucrative stakes races after an impressive debut win, including the Grade 1 Wood Memorial this spring. No Distortion, meanwhile, has really come to hand of late for trainer, Larry Jones. Most recently he rolled to victory in the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park, and should be another putting early pressure on Cupid.


The remainder of the West Virginia Derby field is rounded out by Name Changer, Whateverybodywants, Pinson, Van Damme, and Anaximandros. With the scratch of Mo Tom, Fort Pulaski, will also draw into the field.


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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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