Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion Mark Historic Day at Parx
The highlight of the Parx 2017 season is Saturday, Sept. 23, when, for the first time in its history, it will host two Grade 1 races in the Cotillion Stakes, for three-year-old fillies, and the Pennsylvania Derby, for three-year-olds.
Last year Songbird cruised home in handy fashion to win easily as the heavy 2-5 favorite in the Cotillion. This year’s top wagering choices in the $1 million Cotillion are Abel Tasman (8-5), It Tiz Well (4-1), Actress (5-1) and Salty (5-1). Abel Tasman has won the Kentucky Oaks, Acorn, and Coaching Club American Oaks – all Grade 1’s – in succession. But she drew a tricky post outside at No. 11 in a field of 12 fillies with Salty to her outside. A 1st place prize of more than $600,000 awaits as they gallop home in the 1 1/16 mile race for 3-year-olds.
Three stakes races precede the Cotillion, and then the headliner $1 million Pennsylvania Derby will feature some of the best colts in the nation trying to bolster their Eclipse Award hopes, as well as getting in one last proper prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. This year’s Pennsylvania Derby is held as a Grade 1 race for the first time, and there is serious quality speed in this field of 12.
Trainer Bob Baffert will saddle the favorites in both the Cotillion and Pennsylvania Derby. On Monday, Baffert worked West Coast a half-mile in 47.40 seconds and Abel Tasman in 48.00 at Santa Anita. Both horses are scheduled to walk the shed row Tuesday and be flown east Wednesday. Mike Smith rides each of them, and Baffert will be at Parx for the races after his assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes fractured his pelvis Sunday when Barnes’s pony stumbled and fell, rolling on him.
West Coast (8-5) drew post 4 and enters with four straight wins, including the Grade 1 Travers on Aug. 26. He’ll take lots of betting action as the deserving favorite for the strong duo of Baffert and Smith.
Trainer Doug O’Neil entered a pair in the Pennsylvania Derby, second choice Irap (3-1) and Term of Art (20-1). Irap finished 3rd behind West Coast in the Travers.
“Irap really bounced out of the Travers well,” O’Neill said. “He’s ready to rock and roll.”
The Pennsylvania Derby field also includes Wood Memorial winner and Belmont Stakes runner-up Irish War Cry (9-2), who will break from post 8 for Graham Motion, and 4-for-5 Timeline (5-1), trained by Chad Brown, who has the inside post.
The field is completed by Game Over (15-1), Giuseppe the Great (20-1), Outplay (12-1), Talk Logistics (20-1), and Watch Me Whip (20-1).
At the Parx meets this year, the favorites in all races have won 33% and finished in the money 66%. The average winning odds is just over 5-1.