Latch onto Patch in West Virginia Derby

Mountaineer plays host to the Grade III, $750,000 West Virginia Derby this Saturday on a special afternoon card. The 1 1/8-mile stake drew a field of 11 three-year-olds hailing from several different locations. Post time for the West Virginia Derby, the eighth of nine races on the day, is 5:21 p.m. EST. Don’t forget about this race if you’re playing FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#3 PATCH (7-2) cuts back in distance after running a distant third in the Belmont Stakes for Todd Pletcher. He’ll reunite with Tyler Gaffalione as he ships in for the West Virginia Derby. If PATCH can run back to his maiden victory and runner-up finish in the Louisiana Derby (behind Haskell winner Girvin) he’ll be tough to beat. The works are steady for his return off a brief freshening.

#1 GAME OVER (12-1) has longshot appeal shipping in off a fifth-place effort in the Ohio Derby. The top two in that race, Irap and Girvin, both won their next starts (Indiana Derby and Haskell, respectively). GAME OVER switches to the high-percentage Jorge Navarro barn for this one and gets Dashawn Parker in the irons. He has the right to improve in his second start around two turns.

#7 COLONELSDARKTEMPER (8-1) has lost his last two but has kept good company. He finished behind Irap in the Indiana Derby last time out and McCraken in the Matt Winn two starts back. As usual, Jon Court will have the call on COLONELSDARKTEMPER. He may work out the ideal stalking trip.

#8 LOOKIN AT LEE (3-1, morning-line favorite) deserves consideration but is a largely-unappealing favorite. He will likely set up shop in last around the quirky Mountaineer oval and hope for a pace collapse. While there is a large field entered, an up-front meltdown doesn’t appear to be in the cards. Also, LOOKIN AT LEE is still in pursuit of his first win since Sept. 2016 (nine starts). Don’t leave him out underneath, but look to play against him up top. Corey Lanerie has the assignment.

The play: $4 exacta 3/1,7,8 ($12)

DFJ analysis: Tyler Gaffalione looks to be in the driver’s seat with PATCH in the West Virginia Derby. He also has four additional mounts, three of which are 5-1 or below in odds. A multi-win day on this stakes-laden card is very possible.

Corey Lanerie rides morning-line favorite LOOKIN AT LEE in the West Virginia Derby and has four other mounts earlier on the card. I’m A Looker (Race 3) and Wyeth (Race 6) give Lanerie his best chances on the day.

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