With a large group of owners and supporters from several states in the Midwest and Southwest looking on, Mr. Wireless collected his second consecutive Grade III win with a gritty score in the $500,000 West Virginia Derby for 3-year-olds Aug. 7 at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort.
With regular rider Ramon Vazquez aboard in the 1 1/8-mile race, Mr. Wireless left the gate well from post position and took early position to the outside of Kinetic Sky and Bourbon Thunder, who had little separation from the start to midway on the final turn through moderate fractions of :23.82 for a quarter-mile, :47.86 for a half-mile and 1:12.48 for three-quarters of a mile.
Mr. Wireless took over nearing the top of the stretch, opened up by three lengths and held on to win by 1¼ lengths over Warrant, who rallied from fourth on the far turn. The final time on a track rated fast was 1:52.49.
Mr. Wireless returned $5.20 to win as the slight favorite over Warrant, who had defeated him in the Texas Derby. Third choice Bourbonic closed late for third.
Trainer Bret Calhoun, who won the 2019 West Virginia Derby with Mr. Money, watched this edition on a television monitor at Saratoga Race Course in New York, where he saddled By My Standards in the Grade I Whitney Stakes.
“He had good position the whole way around,” Calhoun said of Mr. Wireless, a Kentucky-bred gelding by Dialed In. “It looked like the rider was sitting on a lot of horse. I think it was a trouble-free race, and when Ramon asked him, he did his job.
“I hate to get to looking too far ahead for a horse’s next race, but I would say the (Grade I) Pennsylvania (Sept. 25) is very possible.”
Mr. Wireless is owned by JIL Stable (John and Iveta Kerber, who also bred him). Part-owner Jon Lapcnzenski traveled from Oklahoma to West Virginia as did 12 people from Iowa and Wisconsin, including two of the Kerbers’ daughters. It proved well worth the trip.
“I couldn’t see the start because of where I was standing and going into the first turn, I saw he was three-wide,” Lapcnzenski said. “But Ramon (does what Ramon does—he got the horse to relax. And Mr. Wireless does what he does. He has only given up the lead once in his career. When he gets the lead he’s all heart.”
Mr. Wireless now has four wins and a second in six starts and earnings of $670,150.
Sprawl delivers for Claiborne in Governor’s Stakes
Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Sprawl earned his first stakes victory in the $200,000 Grade III West Virginia Governor’s Stakes, which preceded the Derby.
The Kentucky homebred 4-year-old colt by City Zip grabbed the early lead from the inside post position under Joe Talamo in the 1 1/16-mile event, briefly lost the lead to Mighty Heart on the far turn and fought back to pull away to win by 1 ¾ lengths.
Mighty Heart was second and Bourbon Calling third. Sprawl covered the distance in 1:44.95 and paid $5.20 to win as the favorite.
Claiborne and Dilschneider owned 2013 West Virginia Derby winner Departing, who returned three years later and finished second in the Governor’s Stakes after having a two-length lead in the stretch.
“I thought he was done (heading into the stretch) but he switched leads and found another gear,” trainer Tom Drury said. “The inside is not so good on this track,but Joe did a great job riding him. This is my first graded stakes win for Claiborne, and after Departing finished second in the Governor’s Cup, I guess they owed us one. I am so proud of this horse.”
Sprawl now has four wins in 16 starts and earnings of $401,653.