Their names are recognizable as being in the upper echelon of their sport: Simplification, Skippylongstocking, We the People and King Ottoman.
They are thoroughbred race horses, and they are among the entries for Saturday’s 52nd running of the West Virginia Derby.
Part of a nine-race card that will begin at 2 p.m. at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort, the 1 1/8-mile derby will be one the more important races this weekend not just in West Virginia, but around the world.
The derby has come a long way since it was first run on April 21, 1923. But this year’s running comes at a time when questions are growing about the sport’s future. This includes concerns about the effects of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, which gives control over drug testing to a federal authority instead of states.
The act was stayed by a federal judge on July 26. The day after that ruling, a horse broke down on the track at Mountaineer and had to be euthanized.
There’s still heated debate about the legislation — groups that advocate for animal safety are supportive, while some in the racing industry say the regulations go too far. But safety must remain paramount for the sport to continue. That’s important to keep in mind as racing’s spotlight shines on our region this weekend.
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