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Aaron previews the 2022 Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx, then gives his top picks and longshots. Cyberknife and Taiba, the close 1-2 finishers from the 2022 Haskell Stakes (G1), are set for a rematch as they make their final starts before the 2022 Breeders’ Cup, but could a longshot spring a big upset? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
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Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will look to win the $1 million, Grade 1 betPARX Pennsylvania Derby for a record fourth time Saturday when Zedan Racing Stables’ Taiba leads a top field of 11 3-year-olds in the signature event of the season at Parx Racing.
The 1/18-mile Pennsylvania Derby is the 12th race on the 13-race card that also co-features the $1 million, Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The Pennsylvania Derby post time is 6:10 p.m. ET.
Taiba, a son of Gun Runner, was installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite by Parx racing secretary David Osojnak. Taiba finished second in the $1 million, Grade 1 TVG.com Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park. He was defeated by Gold Square’s Cyberknife, who is trained by Brad Cox and is entered in the Pennsylvania Derby.
Cyberknife won the Haskell by a head. He finished second last time out in the $1.25 million, Grade 1 Runhappy Travers Stakes at Saratoga. The son of Gun Runner is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line and the only member of the field with two Grade 1 wins.
Taiba, who will be ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, has won two of four starts in his career, all of them this year. Included in his resume is a win in the Grade 1 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby. Baffert won the Pennsylvania Derby in 2014 (Bayern), 2017 (West Coast) and 2018 (McKinzie).
Other Grade 1 winners in the field include Jeff Dworn’s Zandon (Toyota Blue Grass) and C2 Racing Stable’s and La Milagrosa Stable’s White Abarrio (Curlin Florida Derby Presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa) .
1. Zandon, Joel Rosario, 5-1;
2. Icy Stormy, Jeremy Laprida, 40-1;
3. B Dawk, Frankie Pennington, 20-1;
4. Skippylongstocking, Edwin Gonzalez, 10-1;
5. Cyberknife, Florent Geroux, 3-1;
6. We the People, Flavien Prat, 12-1;
7. Tawny Port, Irad Ortiz Jr., 6-1;
8. Taiba, Mike Smith, 5-2;
9. Simplification, Paco Lopez, 10-1;
10. Naval Aviator, Abner Adorno, 20-1;
11. White Abbario, Luis Saez, 8-1.
ICY STORM (Post 2, 30-1) – Trainer Felix Flores-Coba: “I think it’s a good spot for him. There are a lot of nice horses. You don’t want to be too far out against those kind of horses. I want him to break and get a good position. He is not a big horse. This is where I want him, anywhere from the two to six was good. I just want to see him run good against some super nice horses. He is doing really good. I know he will run good, that’s all I can tell you. I expect a good race out of him.”
SKIPPYLONGSTOCKING (Post 4, 10-1), WHITE ABARRIO (Post 11, 8-1) – Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr.: “Both posts are all right. Parx has a pretty good run to the first bend. I just hope we break; the draw we can’t control. White Abarrio will be forwardly placed. He will be on the lead or near the lead. That is the plan. Skippy is a horse that is improving. Both horses are in Saratoga and will ship on Wednesday.”
CYBERKNIFE (Post 5, 3-1), TAWNY PORT (Post 7, 6-1) – Trainer Brad Cox: “I’m happy with the draw for both horses. We’ve pointed Tawny Port for this race since the Jim Dandy. Everything is going great with him. Once again, he’s got to step up to prove that he belongs at this level. He ran a great race last time, but we need to see some improvement to get him a Grade 1. Irad (Ortiz Jr.) likes him. He’s ridden him the last few starts and we’re excited to have him back on him. He’s doing well, so we’ll see how it goes. With Cyberknife, it wasn’t a whole lot of, coming out of the Travers and ‘we’re going to go to Parx’ way of thinking. I thought we might go straight to the Breeders’ Cup. He had a really good breeze last weekend. Time wise it wasn’t anything crazy fast, but it’s how he’s doing, how he looks, how he’s acting. This is one last swing at a Grade 1 around two turns for straight 3-year-olds.”
WE THE PEOPLE (Post 6, 12-1) – Trainer Rodolphe Brisset: “It’s a good draw for us. He’s right in the middle of the field. He’s a pretty good gate horse so we just hope for a clean break and go from there. We know all of them. It’s a very strong field. If I’m right I believe it’s the last Grade 1 for 3-year-olds so we have to be in there to win it. He doesn’t have to be on the lead, but the fact he has that high-cruising speed that, if he breaks clean, he usually knows how to put himself in the right position to win the race. It’s just if he’s good enough now.
TAIBA (Post 8, 5-2) – Trainer Bob Baffert: “He likes to be in the clear, so that is good. He doesn’t like being on the inside. I would rather be the five of the six, but this will be ok. Cyberknife is a tough horse; they are all good horses in here. Million-dollar races are not easy; they are not supposed to be easy. As always, you have to break. We had a little bit of a rough trip in the last one (Haskell). I know he is doing well and we are all set. Both horses (he also has Adare Manor in the $1 million Cotillion). I like the way they are training and we will be shipping tomorrow (Tuesday).”
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