Real Dandy won the big race at Mountaineer Resort.
By JOHN BUTERA
CHESTER, W. Va. -- Not only was the West Virginia Derby jockey Mark Guidry's race, Sunday's entire card seemed to be to his liking.
Guidry fashioned a last-to-first winner in the day's biggest race, giving him three straight on a day that featured all stakes races and was the biggest racing day in the history of West Virginia.
Riding Real Dandy, a 7-1 shot, Guidry passed riding greats Gary Stevens, Patrick Valenzula and Edgar Prado en route to covering the mile and one eighth in 1:50.29.
Stevens, the Hall of Fame jockey who appeared in the movie "Seabiscuit," looked to have the race won as he pounded down the stretch on top of Magna Graduate. Real Dandy came from no where however, even though he trailed the entire field as late as the 5/16th pole.
"I had plenty of horse," said Guidry, "and I had all the confidence in the world in this horse."
Guidry, who also won the two stakes races prior to the Derby, added, "The ones [horses] I rode today sure fit this race track and I'm very grateful for what they've done."
Long shot came in
Only a long shot that paid $72 prevented Guidry from winning the day's final race and giving him four in a row.
Real Dandy returned $16.20, $7.60, and $5.60, while Magna Graduate was worth $5.40 and $4.60. The show horse, Anthony J., paid $10.80.
Magna Graduate also finished second in June's Ohio Derby.
Stevens, making his second trip to Mountaineer Race Track said of his horse, "The longer he can wait, the better off he is. The winner came on the outside. He never saw the winner. He's not easy to ride but he's a nice little race horse."
Just moments before the Derby was to go off, two horses saw the need for blinkers, delaying the start of the race. Interestingly, a couple of Lisbon High graduates, Mike Cusick and Chris Huckshold, were involved in the day's activities -- Cusick as a handler and Huckshold as an assistant starter.
More than 19,000 turned out for the event and bet more than $3 million dollars.
"I'm very excited and pleased," Mountaineer chief Ted Arneault said. "Everything worked out well. I mean when you can get jockeys like Prado and Stevens, that says something."
Stevens has four Kentucky Derby wins to his credit while Valenzuela won both the Derby and Preakness in 1989 aboard Sunday Silence.
Mountaineer fans had the added treat Sunday as noted national announcer Dave Johnson was on hand to call the race.