KY Downs debut winner Red Route One rolls in WV Derby

A Mountaineer Park press release (Coady photo)

Red Route One, who had been knocking heads with the top 3-year-olds all year without a graded stakes victory, rallied strongly from fifth with an eighth of a mile remaining and drew away to win the Grade III, $500,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort the evening of Aug. 6.

The 3-year-old Gun Runner colt gave trainer Steve Asmussen his sixth win in the 1 1/8-mile West Virginia Derby. It marked the third victory in the race for Kentucky Downs co-managing partner Ron Winchell, all of them with Asmussen as trainer. Red Route One captured his racing debut over the Kentucky Downs turf last September.

Ridden by Cristian Torres, who was aboard Red Route One when he finished second in the Grade II Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, the chestnut colt was never worse than seventh in a race with a fairly quick pace set by One in Vermillion, who fired to the front and was unchallenged for more than a half-mile. West Coast Cowboy engaged the leader heading in the far turn and the pair battle to the wire—only to be engulfed by Red Route One approaching the finish.

Red Route One won by three lengths, while West Coast Cowboy finished second, a head in front of One in Vermillion. Red Route One paid $9.80 to win and completed the distance in 1:49.49.

The Mountaineer main track, which was sloppy to begin the program and switched to good for the sixth race, was clearly favoring horses on or near the lead. Assistant trainer Darren Fleming, who has saddled all six of Asmussen’s West Virginia Derby winners, said the surface was a concern.

“We were apprehensive the way the track was playing,” Fleming said. “He ended up handling it very well. “Mountaineer has always been great for us, and the colt had been doing very well coming into the race.”

In his previous start, Red Route One finished a distant eighth in the Grade I Belmont Stakes at one-and-one-half miles after a fourth-place finish in the Grade I Preakness Stakes. Fleming said the distance and the fact “it wasn’t his day” led to a lackluster performance.

Red Route One, who now has three wins, two seconds and a third in 12 starts, became a millionaire with his Mountaineer victory. His earnings now stand at $1,045,125.


KY Downs debut winner Red Route One rolls in WV Derby - Kentucky Downs