Concord Point holds off Exhi

Concord Point turned back a sustained run from Exhi to post easily his richest career victory Saturday in the Grade 2, $750,000 West Virginia Derby, the annual showcase event at Mountaineer Racetrack in Chester, W.Va.

The odds-on favorite in a field of nine 3-year-olds, Concord Point seized a clear lead soon after the start of the 1 1/8-mile race and never looked back, prevailing by a length over Exhi, his race-long pursuer. The winner paid $3.60 after finishing in 1:51.12 over a fast track.

The victory was the second in a major 3-year-old race in less than a week for the trainer-jockey team of Bob Baffert and Martin Garcia, following the Aug. 1 triumph by Lookin At Lucky in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.

Concord Point, a gray Kentucky-bred colt by Tapit, now has won 4 of 6 career starts, with the Grade 3 Iowa Derby in his previous start having been his first stakes win.

"Bob has been patient with this horse," said owner Kaleen Shah, who was on hand. "Martin knows him well. Bob told me to book my flight. I'm glad I came here."

Exhi, the 5-1 second choice with Robby Albarado aboard, finished 8 1/2 lengths before Nacho Friend. Completing the order were Skipshot, Thiskyhasnolimit, Not Abroad, Toh's Grey Cat, Shookstown Road, and Gunfighter.

Baffert, who watched the race from his Southern California base, mentioned before the West Virginia Derby that Concord Point might be an outside possibility to run in the Aug. 28 Travers at Saratoga as a replacement for Lookin At Lucky, who incurred a minor illness following the Haskell.

One race earlier, Demarcation ($7.40) rallied from far back under Joel Rosario to win the $125,000 West Virginia Governor's by 1 1/4 lengths. Cryptolight took over for Z Humor and Alma d'Oro nearing the eighth pole but was no match for the late run of Demarcation, a 6-year-old gelding who now has won nine races and more than $500,000 for the Amerman Racing Stables and trainer Paul McGee. The winner finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.37.

Shadowbdancing, the defending champion and 6-5 favorite, faded badly after attending the early pace to finish last of seven.
The Governor's was the richest supporting event on a nine-race, all-stakes West Virginia Derby program. In the other undercard races:

* $85,000 Mountaineer Juvenile: Mr. Proud Allen ($9.60), with Kristy Petty up, prevailed in a three-horse photo after rallying from well back in a field of 10 2-year-olds. John A. Casey is the breeder, owner, and trainer of the winner.

* $85,000 Chairman's Cup: Deadly Dealer ($22.40), Dana Whitney up, shot straight to the front from his inside post and went on to take this 4 1/2-furlong race by 1 1/2 lengths in a field of nine older horses.

* $85,000 Secretary of State: Down Town Allen ($10.80), with Petty aboard, held on to win this six-furlong race for fillies and mares by a neck over Our Khrysty, while Bickersons, the 6-5 favorite, finished fifth.

* $85,000 Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies: Fastation ($10.40), Shaun Bridgmohan riding, outdueled 2-5 favorite Surmount in posting her second straight stakes victory for trainer Steve Asmussen.

* $110,000 Senate President's: Kiss Mine ($3.60) became the first winning favorite on the day when rallying from just off the pace for jockey Robby Albarado and trainer David Vance. Mimi's Special Six led most of the way before settling for second, 1 1/4 lengths behind the winner.

* $110,000 Harvey Arneault Memorial: Native Ruler ($8.80) won his second stakes in three weeks when rallying from seventh to defeat Captain Cherokee by three-quarters of a length under Jamie Theriot.