CHESTER - The stakes season at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort begins Tuesday.
The 10-race card will feature the Independence Day Stakes for 3-year-olds and upwards and the Firecracker Stakes for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up. Both events carry $75,000 purses and will be run at one mile on the turf.
Independence Day Stakes nominees include Global Power, a 4-year-old colt trained by Thomas M. Amoss.
On June 23, Global Power registered a wire-to-wire, four-length victory on the grass at Mountaineer with DeShawn Parker aboard, winning in 1:33.53, missing the course record by four-hundreths of a second.
Nominees for the Firecracker include the defending title-holder Lunar Mist, who registered a come-from-behind, three-quarter-length victory in the race last year under jockey Terry D. Houghton. Lunar Mist, a 5-year-old mare trained by Eric R. Reed, is a well-traveled competitor. She has competed at nine tracks and, besides Mountaineer, has won at Arlington Park and Santa Anita.
"Stakes provide the defining points for a racetrack's season," said Joe Narcavish, Mountaineer's racing secretary and handicapper. "We've got 13 of them scheduled for this year, including nine on Aug. 4, West Virginia Derby Day. The overall purse distributions for our stakes will exceed $2 million."
The history of the Independence Day Stakes dates back to 1953, when Mountaineer was known as Waterford Park. The inaugural running was contested at a distance 1 1/16 on the dirt, carried a purse of $5,820 and was won by a horse named Grey Arrow, ridden by Michael Grosso.
Dakota Prospect, the 2001 Independence Day winner, continues to be the stakes record-holder for the race's modern-day distance and surface upon which it is run. Under jockey Chad Hoverson, Dakota Prospect clocked a final time of 1:33.81, and returned $58.20 for a $2 mutuel.
Firecracker Stakes' history dates back to 1994 - the first three editions of the race were won by Krissi O under jockeys Desiree Kieser, Scotty Wilkerson and Antonio Koster. Virgil Pritchard was Krissi O's trainer.
If she goes to the post on Tuesday, Lunar Mist could become the only multiple winner of the Firecracker beyond Krissi O. The record time for the race, 1:34.49, was set by Lady Grace under jockey Rex Stokes III in 2005.
Post time for the first race at Mountaineer on Tuesday will be 7 p.m. As always, admission and general parking will be free.
NOTES: Hansen, last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner and North American two-year-old champ, is the prohibitive 2/5 morning line favorite in today's Grade 3, $250,000 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows. Hansen's co-owner, Dr. Kendall Hansen, and his trainer, Michael J. Maker, are pointing the colt toward the Grade 2, $750,000 West Virginia Derby. Concord Point and Prayer for Relief, who won the West Virginia Derby in 2010 and 2011, respectively, were also Iowa Derby winners ... With 144 wins, DeShawn Parker currently ranks fifth in the 2012 North American jockey standings, behind Russell Baze (185), Javier Castellano (165), Leandro Goncalves (163) and Ramon Dominguez (151). Parker ended up leading the standings each of the last two seasons ... the average return for a two-dollar win ticket at Mountaineer this year has been $11.16; and the average return for a winning $2 perfecta ticket has been $72.02.