The next stop for this year’s group of 3-year-old colts and fillies is in Bensalem, Pa. just outside of Philadelphia.
Parx Racing will host the $1 million Grade 1 Cotillion for fillies and the $1 million Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby for the colts.
Abel Tasman (8-5) will bring her four race win streak to Philly and will be challenged by Black-Eyed Susan winner Actress (5-1), Alabama Stakes runner-up It Tiz Well (4-1) and year-long rival Salty (5-1). Mike Smith will once again ride Abel Tasman who comes off a win in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks after wins in the Acorn and Kentucky Oaks.
As for the boys, Travers winner West Coast (8-5) will look to add to his resume to make a push for 3-year-old champion. A win here and a good showing in the Breeders’ Cup Classic could put him over the top, similar to Will Take Charge in 2013.
A large field of 10 will show up looking to cash in on the big purse and look for a primer before the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. The race has played to speed in the past and the track is likely to be fast on Saturday once again.
Here’s a look at the entries for the Pennsylvania Derby (post position, horse, trainer, jockey, ML odds in parenthesis):
1 – Timeline (Brown, Castellano, 5-1). My pick in the Haskell had a bad start and never threatened at Monmouth. Castellano stays aboard for Chad and will likely put forth a better effort than he did at the Shore. His workouts suggest he’s ready to roll and he looks to be the main threat to the Travers winner. Son of Hard Spun suffered his first loss in five career races and should bounce back in Philly. Main contender.
2 – Outplay (Pletcher, Velazquez, 12-1). Johnny V knows how to get to the wire first in big races and he shouldn’t be discounted in here with the son of Bernardini. Gets a five-pound weight break from the favorite and comes out of an impressive Spa win in the Curlin. Pletcher passed on the Travers versus his Classic winners and pointed him here for a reason. Dangerous.
3 – Watch Me Whip (Romans, Albarado, 20-1). Lightly raced son of Smart Strike to be a tad out of his class here. Speed figures don’t seem to fit with this group. Was trounced pretty handily by the Travers runner-up in the Indiana Derby. Nay Nay.
4 – West Coast (Baffert, Smith, 8-5). Rare Parx appearance by Bob Baffert who saddles the two favorites in the two big races. Son of Flatter is the one to beat after his impressive Travers victory. Baffert looks to have him cranked and he’s versatile enough to handle this crew. The pick.
5 – Irap (O’Neill, Gutierrez, 3-1). My Travers pick did me well by finishing a solid third after staying up with the winner most of the race. He’s only had one real bad race in his career and it happened to be the sloppy track Kentucky Derby. I don’t see him catching the winner, but he’ll catch a piece of the honors.
6 – Talk Logistics (Plesa, Pennington, 20-1). Runner-up in the local prep behind an impressive Pavel. He seems to be just a cut below this group and will have to run the race of his life to contend. Toss.
7 – Game Over (Navarro, Carmouche, 15-1). One of the few tracks honoring Jorge Navarro’s license due to indiscretions affords him a chance in the Pa Derby. This is his fourth trainer in five races as owner Looch Racing has moved him around. He comes out of a second place finish in the West Virginia Derby. Yawn.
8 – Irish War Cry (Motion, Maragh, 9-2). My Derby and Belmont pick won’t be getting the nod at Parx. He has performed well after every dud he’s thrown, so based on the pattern he should be ready to roll on Saturday. I’m just not willing to burn any more of my wallet on the Curlin colt. Maragh struggled at Saratoga and was replaced on IWC by Feargal Lynch for tomorrow’s race. Lynch rode him in his first two career victories at Laurel. Suspect.
9 – Term of Art (O’Neill, Van Dyke, 20-1). O’Neill won the local prep with Pavel, and will try to complete the double by shipping in Term of Art. He’ll put on the blinkers to try and rouse the son of Tiznow. Hasn’t won since last November and is in deep waters here. No thanks.
10 – Giuseppe the Great (Zito, Saez 20-1). Runner-up in the Jim Dandy, didn’t fire in the Travers, but still received a solid speed figure. He’s an improving 3-year-old who could crash the bottom of the exotics with a late run to pass tired horses. Will also receive a seven-pound weight break from the winner. The longshot play.
Post Time Outlook: 1 – West Coast; 2 – Timeline; 3 – Irap; 4 – Outplay
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.