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Pennsylvania Derby Preview: Shortened Field Ready

Pennsylvania Derby Preview: Shortened Field Ready

The state of Pennsylvania’s feature day of racing is set for this Saturday at Parx with the running of both the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) and the Cotillion Stakes (G1). This year, the Pennsylvania Derby drew a field of seven 3-year-old males, but the Haskell Stakes (G1) winner Maximum Security will scratch from the race after suffering a bout of colic. The event will be #11 on a 13-race extravaganza, and NBC will be on hand to televise the contest, which has a local post time of 5:48 PM ET. 

Bob Baffert won this race last year with McKinzie, and this year, he brings Improbable, who is coming off of a nice win in the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar. Improbable went off as the favorite in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, but he failed to hit the board in either start. Mike Smith comes over to ride Improbable, who will break from post 2.  

Perhaps the hottest horse coming into the race is Mr. Money. He has won four straight by open lengths for trainer Bret Calhoun, though all of those came against Grade 3 company. This will be his first try against Grade 1 foes since the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). Still, he hasn’t been close to losing in several months, and his workout pattern suggests that he is doing very well. He’ll break from post 6 with Gabriel Saez aboard. 

A horse that seems to have been forgotten lately is War of Will, who comes into this event off of back-to-back poor performances in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2). He has had a slight layoff since the Jim Dandy, though, and his recent workouts suggest that he is back in good form. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione will have the mount once again on the Preakness winner when he breaks from post 4. 

The full field from the rail out: Math Wizard, Improbable, Shanghai Superfly, War of Will, Spun to Run, and Mr. Money.

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Top Choice 

#2 Improbable – Even though Bob Baffert has had very little luck (by his standards) with 3-year-olds this season, you still can’t overlook him. Improbable has had his struggles this season, but he finally seemed to get things going again last time out with a win in the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar. The field was short, so there is still plenty for him to prove in this tougher spot, but he looked like he was back in the same great form that we haven’t seen since the Arkansas Derby (G1) back in April. If he can run that type of race in this spot, then there is no doubt that he could give the rest of these horses a run for their money. 

Horses to Use in Multi-Race Wagers 

#6 Mr. Money – It’s time for him to get a big time class test after winning four straight Grade 3s. He began the streat at Churchill Downs in the Pat Day Mile and Matt Winn Stakes, then took his dominance on the road in the Indiana Derby and West Virginia Derby. There is no doubt that he was taking advantage of easy fields in those races, but it was nice to see him dominate his competition each time. He has been working out extremely well at Churchill Downs, so look for him to show up ready to run a big one. Can he match up with Grade 1 company? We’ll find out Saturday. 


Exotic Plays

#5 Spun to Run – This is definitely the horse that could hit the board to help spice up the trifecta. He won the Smarty Jones Stakes (G3), the local prep, last time out over a decent field and seems to be improving with each start. However, Maximum Security beat him by over 9 lengths in the Haskell, so look for him to play a big factor underneath. 

Party Crashers 

#4 War of Will – It’s weird to label the Preakness Stakes (G1) winner as a “Party Crasher;” however, that is pretty much what he is after his two most recent performances. He was a complete no-show in both the Belmont Stakes (G1) and Jim Dandy Stakes (G2), which could be a sign that he needs a break. Trainer Mark Casse did have him skip the Travers Stakes (G1), so perhaps that’s enough of a breather to get him going again. He shouldn’t be considered a real threat until he proves himself again, but if his price floats up enough, he becomes worth a small risk. 

Throw Outs 

#1 Math Wizard – After being defeated by Mr. Money soundly in his last two efforts, it will be a big challenge for him to turn the tables here. He also must deal with the toughest competition that he has faced in his career.

#3 Shanghai Superfly – It’s hard to see an eight-race maiden having much of a shot in spot like this one. In fact, he was a loser last time out against maiden claiming company. He will easily be the longest shot on the board. 

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