Expert picks: Pennsylvania Derby 2019 predictions, longshots

September 20, 2019 02:57pm
While the mid-week defection of Maximum Security from the Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby dropped the field six to six, it also opened up a number of logical options for handicappers. Ahead of post time at 5:48 p.m. ET Saturday, here's how the Horse Racing Nation team handicapped Parx's biggest race. And when coming to your own conclusions, check out free past performances.

Jeffrey Byrnes

Winner: #6 Mr. Money

On the board: #2 Improbable, #4 War of Will

Longshot I like: #5 Spun to Run

Analysis: Mr. Money is on a roll with four straight victories and only seems to be getting stronger as the year goes on. Gabriel Saez will keep him close or could put him on the lead if he gets a clean break. Has posted Beyers above 98 in four straight races. Improbable beat so-so horses last out in Del Mar's Shared Belief Stakes, but it was a good confidence builder for this spot. He ships well and recent works show he could be back to his Grade 1-winning form as a 2-year-old. Having Mike Smith aboard is always a plus. War of Will has been off form in last two starts, but after a break, he has looked great in the mornings. The Preakness winner figures to established a stalking position and, if good enough, he will get the jump on the leaders. Spun to Run has won three of his last four starts and was third in the Haskell (G1). He won the local prep in the Smarty Jones (G3) over the Parx track, so he has a liking for the surface. If he can slow the pace down to his liking, Spun to Run can take them a long way. Will have to step up big time to score upset.

Superfecta box: 

Nick Costa

Winner: #4 War of Will

On the board: #2 Improbable, #6 Mr. Money

Longshot I like: #5 Spun to Run

Analysis: War of Will was given a much-needed freshening following steady racing from January to late July. Trainer Mark Casse has ramped up this colt’s training with sparkling morning works in preparation of his return and that could be a strong indicator that the classic winner has regained his best form and is ready to roll. Improbable didn’t threaten in the first two Triple Crown races but came back last month to win a minor stakes race in his tune-up for this spot, his first win in five starts this season. This same trainer/jockey duo of Bob Baffert and Mike Smith have won this race the last two years. Mr. Money rides an impressive four race winning streak, but all of Grade 3 variety. He’s a tough horse, and highly capable of winning if he can successfully make the step up to this elite level.

Win: War of Will
Exacta: 2,4/2,4,5,6

Jarrod Horak

Winner: #2 Improbable

On the board: #6 Mr. Money, #5 Spun to Run

Longshot I like: #1 Math Wizard

Analysis: Improbable has a shot to wire the field with Maximum Security on the sidelines. He added blinkers in his Shared Belief return and showed improved early interest in that flat mile event at Del Mar on Aug. 25. This is probably a bit beyond his best distance, but he can move forward and control the pace in his second start after a layoff. Mr. Money has rattled off four straight graded wins. He owns fine tactical speed and could easily win again. Spun to Run might be able to hit the board. The three-time local winner scored as my top pick in the Smarty Jones (G3) on Sept. 2. Math Wizard is a decent late runner in the lower graded ranks, and he should save all the ground.

Exacta: 2,6/5
Trifecta key: 2/1,5,6

Reinier Macatangay

Winner: #6 Mr. Money

On the board: #2 Improbable, #4 War of Will

Longshot I like: #5 Spun to Run

Analysis: Mr. Money owns great tactical speed and can use it from the outside post. Expect him to flank Improbable or War of Will and take over. Because of the short odds, it only makes sense to bet a straight exacta rather than a wheel.

Exacta: 6/2

Victor Ryan

Winner: #5 Spun to Run

On the board: #6 Mr. Money, #4 War of Will

Longshot I like: #5 Spun to Run

Analysis: I don't particularly trust any of the favorites, so let's take a shot with the local hope. Spun to Run is a late-developing 3-year-old who adores Parx and is making the third start off a nearly four-month layoff. He gets a red-hot rider in Paco Lopez, who is winning at a 39% clip at the current meet. Morning line favorite Improbable is 0-for-4 outside of California, and being in post No. 2 doesn't help, as Baffert's previously made clear this colt doesn't like being down inside.

Win/place: 5
Exacta: 5/4,6 and 4,6/5
Trifecta: 5/2,4,6/2,4,6 and 2,4,6/5/2,4,6 and 2,4,6/2,4,6/5


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