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A field of 10 is set to contest the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby on Saturday at Parx. The event will go off as race 11 on a stakes-filled card of 13 races. Post time for the Pennsylvania Derby is 5:45 EST.
The headliner of the race is certainly West Coast, shipping in from California for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. West Coast was last seen at Saratoga, where he earned an easy-looking wire-to-wire victory in the Grade 1 Travers. That win catapulted him to the top of the 3-year-old division, but this win would build his resume even more.
Irap poses the main threat for West Coast after finding his game in recent months. After a disappointing 18th in the Kentucky Derby, he returned to capture victories in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby and the Grade 2 Indiana Derby. Last time out, he was a solid third in the Travers behind West Coast and Gunnevera. Doug O’Neill trains and Mario Gutierrez is set to ride.
The rest of the field includes Timeline, Outplay, Watch Me Whip, Talk Logistics, Game Over, Irish War Cry, Term of Art, and Giuseppe The Great.
#4 West Coast – The Travers may have been his major coming-out party, but many could see that performance coming after two really nice wins in the $150,000 Easy Goer and the Grade 3 Los Alamitos Derby. This is another late-developing 3-year-old for Baffert, who may swoop in late in the season and steal the 3-year-old division’s Eclipse Award. If he can run back to his Travers effort, then he’ll win this one for fun, and you have to love the early speed that he displayed last time out. That makes him ultra-dangerous, as he didn’t look to be slowing down at all in the Travers. Baffert and Smith look to be set up for a very nice Saturday at Parx.
#5 Irap – Three big-time performances in a row have this horse right in the mix for 3-year-old of the Year honors, which is incredible considering he was thought of as a joke at one point this year. The joke was on those who doubted him though, after he accumulated wins in the Ohio and Indiana Derbies, as well as a strong third-place effort in the Travers. Turning the tables on West Coast will not be easy for anyone in this field, but Irap has the talent and consistency to give it a real shot.
#1 Timeline – He was all the rage heading into the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth Park, but a poor break and tough trip ruined any chance that he had of winning. This race looks to be pretty top-heavy with Irap and West Coast leading the way, but with a better trip, Timeline is talented enough to make things interesting. In the past, Parx has been extremely favoring to speed on Pennsylvania Derby Day. That could definitely play into the hands of the big favorite, but it could also help Timeline, as well. If West Coast falters, Timeline becomes a real threat.
#8 Irish War Cry – The roller-coaster ride continues for this horse, as once again he’ll try to regain his form. Irish War Cry has been one of the more frustrating horses of the year because he’s terribly inconsistent. On his best day, he can compete with nearly anyone in the division, but on his worst day, he can be beaten by anyone. He’s one of those horses who is on an “every other one” pattern, and luckily for those who try to back him here, this is the race where he should run well. I’ll have to see it to believe it, though. I’m done with him.
#7 Game Over – Is this the only place left in the country allowing trainer Jorge Navarro to enter his horses? Regardless of what you think of that whole mess, it’s important to note that this horse is running well coming into the contest. Last time out, Game Over made a bold move in the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby and finished second, only losing by a length. That kind of effort will put him right in the mix in this spot, so he could definitely hit the board at a price.
#2 Outplay – We haven’t seen this horse since his impressive win in the $100,000 Curlin early on in the Saratoga meeting. He showed a solid early turn of foot and was able to win in an eye-catching fashion. There are a few negatives, though, none more critical than the fact that West Coast beat him by nearly 6 lengths in the Easy Goer. Also, the inside draw may really force his hand early, as his only option from there will be to go to the front. The pace could be hot, which would hurt his chances, but from a longshot perspective, he still makes the most sense.
#10 Giuseppe the Great – He finished second in a couple of tough races this year, which gives you a little bit of hope heading into this race. However, he was outclassed fairly badly in the Travers, and it might be the same type of deal in this tough spot.
#9 Term of Art – A grind-it-out type that will need a good deal of pace to have any shot at making an impact, he’s been spotted over his head most of the year. This seems to be more of the same.
#6 Talk Logistics – He seems to be a one-paced horse that can sometimes get up and hit the board in easier races, but this one looks too tough for him, as several of his foes can really run.
#3 Watch Me Whip – He’s had his chances but hasn’t been able to do much. He looked to be a horse on the rise during the early stages of the year, but he hasn’t been able to live up to the hype and is spotted in another tough race here.
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