BENSALEM, PA – An impressive rally in the stretch propelled Math Wizard up past his foes in the shadow of the wire to upset Saturday’s $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx for co-owners John Fanelli and Collamele Vitelli Stable.
Dismissed at 31/1 odds as he broke from the rail under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Math Wizard took back and watched as the red-hot Mr. Money rode his four-race win streak to the early lead. The Preakness Stakes (G1) winner War of Will and local Smarty Jones Stakes (G3) champion Spun to Run gave closest chase, while the 6/5 favorite Improbable – who broke a step slow – raced ahead of Math Wizard and the maiden Shanghai Superfly.
Heading into the far turn, War of Will and Spun to Run created a three-wide wall along the outside of the pacesetter. Behind them, a gaining Math Wizard tipped out for a four-wide challenge while Improbable kept close watch along the rail.
Mr. Money reengaged off of the turn and held a slim lead but began drifting in and out slightly after straightening for home. Coming down the middle of the lane with a tremendous surge, Math Wizard collared the pacesetter late before a final push placed him ahead at the wire. The Saffie Joseph, Jr., trainee crossed in a final time of 1:50.80 for the 1 1/8-mile event over the fast main track.
“It was great,” said Ortiz, Jr. “I got a perfect trip, to be honest. He broke, put me in a good position. I saw the favorite didn’t break and I didn’t panic. I just said, ‘He’s going to come from somewhere, he’s just not forwardly placed in front of me.’ He got through inside of me, and from there, I just tried to follow him. Then on the backside, my horse jumped on the bridle. When I put my hands down, he jumped on the bridle and I said, ‘Whoa, wait a little longer.’ He was coming little by little, but when he turned for home and he switched leads, then he took off. He ran hard. When I turned for home and I opened the reins and he started taking off, I said, ‘I’m going to get there.’”
Mr. Money held onto second by a length over War of Will, who nipped Improbable and Spun to Run by a whisker. Shanghai Superfly was distanced heading into the far turn before completing the order of finish.
Multiple Grade 1 winner Maximum Security, the morning-line favorite, scratched earlier this week after developing an acute case of colic.
Math Wizard’s win was his first since being claimed for $25,000 following a win at Gulfstream Park on January 31. The 3-year-old son of Algorithms, who finished third behind Maximum Security in that foe’s debut on December 20, improved his record to 13-3-2-3 with $860,623 earned.
“He’s made some moves that never materialized (in the past),” said Joseph, Jr. “I had to look twice to make sure that he got there. When we claimed him, we were just hoping to get a horse that could probably win in three or four weeks for us. Sometimes, you just have to claim horses at the right time. The horse has never let us down. It all worked out today.”
Math Wizard returned $64.20 to win, $12 to place, and $4.80 to show. Mr. Money brought back $3.60 to place and $2.60 to show, while War of Will paid $4 to show.