CHESTER - Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort concludes its live season on Friday with a nine-race card, highlighted by a 2-mile marathon event. Full fields of 10 horses have drawn in for each race. Post time will be 7 p.m.
Scheduled as the eighth race on the card, the marathon carries a $30,000 purse for starter allowance runners. Romance Argentino, a 3-year-old gelding who is the 9-5 morning line favorite, registered a track record in his most recent effort, clocking a final time of 3:51.81 for 2 1/8 miles at Mountaineer on Nov. 30. Christian P. Pilares has the mount.
Friday's marathon field further includes the 6-year-old gelding Getta Rhythm, the prevailing Mountaineer standard holder for 2 miles. Getta Rhythm registered a final time of 4:03.16 for that distance on Sept. 3. Terry D. Houghton will be aboard.
Two and one-quarter miles constitute a long way to go, and few U.S. tracks card races at that distance. Friday's marathon will begin at the rarely-used chute at the top of Mountaineer's stretch, and will require more than two complete circuits of the racing oval.
"We race 210 days a year, and we like to include as much variety as we can," said Joe Narcavish, the racing secretary at Mountaineer. "In 2012, we have conducted races on the dirt at 13 different distances, ranging from 4 to 18 furlongs. And we've also run on the grass at eight different distances, ranging from 4 to 15 furlongs.
"If you look further at the statistics, 20 percent of our races have been decided in photo finishes, and 20.1 percent have resulted in wire-to-wire victories. Our racing programs are not designed to one particular style of running. Everybody has a chance."
One sees some very swift horses at Mountaineer. The victory by Guam Typhoon in the $100,000 Senate Robert C. Byrd Memorial Stakes on the Aug. 4 West Virginia Derby undercard was recorded in a time of 1:08.59 for six furlongs. That same day Golden Country won the $100,000 West Virginia Legislature Chairman's Cup in a time of :50.95 for 4 furlongs.
Both clockings were the fastest for their respective distances at Mountaineer this year. Guam Typhoon was the 7-5 post-time favorite in his race. Golden Country exited the starting gate at odds of nearly 14-1. Narcavish's belief that "everybody has a chance" bears merit.
Friday's card, which offers a total purse distribution of $127,900, includes races at five different distances. There are a quartet of 5-furlong sprints, a pair of six-furlong sprints, middle distance races at the one-mile and one-mile plus seventy-yard distances, and the marathon.
Hunch players might note that the 5-2 morning line favorite in the ninth race on the card is named Final Curtain. The 3-year-old gelding has recorded two wins and five placings at Mountaineer this year, and has drawn the rail post. Betty Jo Williams will ride.
Born to Disco, the even-money morning line favorite in Friday's seventh race, has recorded five wins from eight starts at Mountaineer this year, and has a career record of eight wins and five placings from 19 starts at the Hancock County track. The 4-year-old filly will be ridden by Jareth Loveberry, who since Oct. 1 has led all Mountaineer jockeys in victories with 59.
The simulcasting of races from tracks around the country will continue at Mountaineer's Grande Hotel racebook throughout the winter months. The 2013 live racing season will commence on March 1.