Notebook: Cielo Gold’s 2nd place pays the bills
• Out-of-town trainers and owners typically don’t make the trip to Chester, W.Va., for the West Virginia Derby. But the connections of long-shot Cielo Gold weren’t missing the party. Churchill Downs-based trainer Hal Wiggins and the partners at Hillcrest Farms Racing descended on the out-of-the-way track along the Ohio River, booking at least a dozen rooms at the Grande Hotel. The trip was worth it. Cielo Gold, a 23-1 shot, took second place to win $150,000 and more than double his career earnings.
• The big-name trainers fared poorly Sunday. Wanna Runner, trained by Bob Baffert, was sixth, 12 1/2 lengths back. Todd Pletcher-trained Circle the World checked badly on the backstretch and finished seventh, and Regent Spirit, trained by Nick Zito, was eighth.
• Yesterday offered more proof that owners should listen to trainers. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin wanted to run Flashy Bull in the West Virginia Derby. The owners wanted to run him in the $1 million Haskell. The owners had the final word, and Flashy Bull, who figured to be one of the favorites in the West Virginia Derby, finished seventh in the nine-horse Haskell at Monmouth Park.
• Dana Whitney, the top jockey at Mountaineer Park, lost his mount in the West Virginia Derby when High Finance scratched with a quarter crack, and then finished out of the money in the day’s first four races. Whitney salvaged the afternoon by winning the $125,000 Breeders’ Cup Memorial Stakes aboard Yucatan.
15 Victories in the past 16 races by Outcashem, who won the $85,000 Chairmen’s Cup for the second year in a row.
4,840 Career victories by West Virginia Derby-winning jockey Mark Guidry, a native of Louisiana.