Expert picks: Pennsylvania Derby 2018 predictions, longshots

September 21, 2018 12:35pm
Expert picks: Pennsylvania Derby 2018 predictions, longshots
Photo: Benoit
Despite McKinzie's lengthy layoff, the son of Street Sense looms large in the Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby. He's a 5-2 favorite on the morning line and among Horse Racing Nation staffers who handicapped the 1 1/8-mile Parx Racing feature, set for 5:45 p.m. ET Saturday.

Top challengers include Hofburg, a last-out Saratoga stakes winner; Bravazo, who ran in all three legs of the Triple Crown; and Instilled Regard, who changes to trainer Chad Brown off a fourth-place run in the Kentucky Derby.

 RELATED: Free Pennsylvania Derby past performances

You can watch the Pennsylvania Derby live on TVG or live stream it through your favorite Advanced Deposit Wagering service. The card includes a number of other stakes, including the Grade 1 Cotillion for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles.

Here are the Pennsylvania Derby picks:

Jeffrey Byrnes, Byrnzzze's Corner (@jeffbyrnes96)

Winner: #2 Hofburg

On the board: #10 Bravazo, #6 Axelrod

Longshot I like: #7 Mr Freeze

Analysis: Hofburg comes into this race off a sharp win in the Curlin Stakes, and he fired a bullet workout for trainer Bill Mott last week. With speed to his outside, Hofburg can save ground on the inside and can sit close to the pace to get first run of the closers. Bravazo is as consistent as they come and runs honestly every time. Coming in off finishes of second (Haskell) and third (Travers), he is the leading money earner in the field. Breaking from post 10, he will have to hustle to avoid going wide in the turn. And if he sits off the pace, he must remain close. Bravazo offers a nice closing kick and with speed up front. Axelrod is coming around at the right time as winner of two straight, including the local prep, the Smarty Jones. He has displayed a powerful closing kick and gets back with Joe Bravo. Mr Freeze has only run four times, but has won three races, including front-running victory in the West Virginia Derby. If he goes to lead and sets a moderate pace, he can hang around for the end. I will play a 2-10-6-7 superfecta box.

Nick Costa, Trackside with Trackman

Winner: #2 Hofburg

On the board: #8 McKinzie, #10 Bravazo

Longshot I like: #3 Instilled Regard

Analysis: Hofburg is one of three horses in this race with solid Triple Crown experience. The colt also placed second in the Florida Derby in his third lifetime start. Was last seen drawing off to win a restricted event in July but most recently posted back-to-back bullet works in preparation for this. Blinkers are added. McKinzie, away since March, has worked well for his return. Although this spot may strictly be serving as a prep, the horse must be respected on his merits. Bravazo has danced all the top dances for sophomores and has remained competitive. Instilled Regard is another combatant of the Triple Crown wars and now goes for trainer Chad Brown, who has nearly a 30 percent win rate with turnovers.

Casey Laughter, The Tattooed Tracksider (@claughter_media)

Winner: #8 McKinzie

On the board: #4 King Zachary, #2 Hofburg

Longshot I like: #7 Mr Freeze

Analysis: With McKinzie one of the few classy speed horses in this race, I could easily see him getting a great trip on the front end. The only other horse with comparable pace is Mr. Freeze, who has finished in the exacta in all four of his races. This will be a good tightener for McKinzie, who could be headed to the Breeders' Cup from here.

Reinier Macatangay, Setting the Pace (@tracinglifemore)

Winner: #3 Instilled Regard

On the board: #8 McKinzie, #2 Hofburg

Longshot I like: #10 Bravazo

Analysis: The race is supposed to feature a fast pace, so maybe it will help Instilled Regard, who is 15-1 on the morning line and about as good as Hofburg. Another option is to back wheel Bravazo underneath, as he tends to lose ground on the far turn before regaining it mid-stretch.

Christine Oser (@cb_oser)

Winner: #8 McKinzie

On the board: #2 Hofburg, #6 Axelrod

Longshot I like: #7 Mr Freeze

Analysis: Baffert stretched McKinzie out in a series of works leading up to the Pennsylvania Derby, and if he's anything like he was last spring, the colt is a top contender. Hofburg and Axelrod have been consistent in their past few starts, with Hofburg winning at this distance last out and Axelrod winning the local Parx prep. They stand a good shot to finish in the money. Mr Freeze has less experience but made a big step up to win at this distance last out going gate to wire, and he could set a comfortable pace for himself here.


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