Sir Shackleton makes late charge to capture West Virginia Derby
The co-favorite overcame runner-up Pollard's Vision.
By JOHN BUTERA
CHESTER, W.Va. -- Co-favorite Sir Shackleton saved his best for last Saturday, winning the 35th running of the West Virginia Derby in exciting fashion at Mountaineer Race Track.
A 6-5 favorite with Pollard's Vision, Sir Shackleton trailed for most of the mile and one-eighth before making a huge move at about the 16 pole.
Racing a fast track with six others -- there were two scratches -- Britt's Jules showed the way early and looked to be a wire-to-wire winner before Sir Shackleton made his late charge.
An 8-1 choice, Britt's Jules broke great and continued to build large leads throughout the race. In fact, he led by three and one-half lengths with just a quarter mile to go.
But Sir Shackleton rallied, however, and beat Pollard's Vision, which was second.
"I thought we had it won turning into the stretch," said Britt's Jules jockey Corey Lanerie. "I can't take anything away from the winner. He ran us down."
Eibar Coa, Pollard's Vision jockey, added, "Coming to the quarter pole I really thought we were going to get it. But when I saw Sir Shackleton go to the inside, I thought, 'Lights out.' "
Pollard's Vision, which also finished second in the June running of the Ohio Derby, was again a crowd favorite among the 16,256 fans.
Named after Seabiscuit jockey Red Pollard, whom like the horse was blind in one eye, Pollard's Vision was 17 out of 18 in this year's Kentucky Derby.
Sir Shackleton, trained by the well-known Nick Zito, was under the whip of Rafael Bejarano, a 22-year-old native of Peru who speaks limited English.
Bejarano, an up-and-coming performer, is the top North American jockey with 286 wins, three of which came during Saturday's nine-race card that featured seven stakes races.
Tim Poole, who trained while Zito spent the day at Saratoga, explained, "Nick is very patient with his horses. And this one has been a good student. With every race, he has moved forward."
Sir Shackleton, who finished in 1:49:16, paid $4.40, $2.40 and $2.20, while Pollard's Vision was worth $2.60 and $2.20. Britt's Jules paid $2.40 to show, and the 7-3 perfecta was good for $7.60. The trifecta of 7-3-6 paid $25.80.