Pennsylvania Derby 2019: Post positions, odds and more

September 21, 2019 11:00am
Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby lost its big-picture importance when 3-year-old division leader Maximum Security scratched earlier this week following a colic episode. While a compact field of six remains, an argument for most contenders can still be made for the win spot in Parx Racing's biggest event.

Grade 1 winners Improbable and War of Will meet for the first time since the Preakness Stakes, while the streaking Mr. Money, a winner of four straight Grade 3 events, takes his turn at tougher competition. Local stakes hero Spun to Run, a horse on the improve, will be there at a price.

This 1 1/8-mile race set for 5:49 p.m. ET could serve as a springboard to either the Breeders' Cup Classic or Dirt Mile for these sophomores, while the undercard includes the Cotillion Stakes (G1), a "Win and You're In" prep for the Distaff.

Here's a closer look at the Pennsylvania Derby field:

TimeformUS Pace Projector sees Mr. Money as the early leader in Maximum Security's absence. That scenario, however, may not play out with Improbable wearing blinkers since his comeback from the Triple Crown. That colt was keen to go when returning to win the Aug. 25 Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar, and War of Will is also known for his gate speed. 

It seems more likely that Mr. Money could show tactical speed, getting a measure on his competition rather than sending to the front. While drawn outside, he can't go too wide given this field size.

Pennsylvania Derby on TV

This race, along with the Cotillion, will be part of an NBC broadcast for the first time Saturday. The network will go live from Parx at 5 p.m. ET. The rest of the card can be seen live on TVG. Other advanced deposit wagering services, such as NYRABets, also live stream track feeds for account holders.

Pennsylvania Derby handicapping

 Pennsylvania Derby picks

 Free past performances

 Odds and analysis

 A case for Mr. Money

Pennsylvania Derby undercard

First post time at Parx for the 13-race card is 12:25 p.m. ET, and you can see full card entries, post positions and odds via Horse Racing Nation. Get a closer look at the stakes below...

Race 5: Alphabet Soup Handicap (2:24 p.m.)

Race 6: Plum Pretty Stakes (2:56 p.m.)

Race 7: Turf Amazon Stakes (2:38 p.m.)

Race 8: Parx Dirt Mile (4 p.m.)

Race 9: Gallant Bob Stakes (4:34 p.m.)

Race 10: Cotillion Stakes (5:10 p.m.)

Race 11: Pennsylvania Derby (5:46 p.m.)

Race preview

The Pennsylvania Derby would have marked the first time Maximum Security and War of Will, the two horses at the center of the Kentucky Derby controversy, had met since that race. War of Will was trying to come off the rail approaching the top of the stretch in the Derby and was impeded by Maximum Security and jockey Luis Saez, who came out several paths.

But, “They are animals, not machines,” said Mark Casse, War of Will’s trainer. “Too many times, people believe they go out and just go around there. It doesn’t work that way. They get sick. They don’t feel good. Just like us.”

Improbable was the 3-1 second choice in the original morning line and now goes as the 8-5 favorite on the revised line released by Parx Racing oddsmaker John DaSilva. The full field, with revised morning-line odds: Math Wizard (6-1), Improbable (8-5), 
Shanghai Superfly (30-1), War of Will (4-1), Spun to Run (8-1) and Mr. Money (2-1).

“That is horrible. You hate to see that,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who conditions Improbable, said of Maximum Security. “As a trainer, you never wish anybody any bad luck. I just hope he is all right and it’s nothing serious. He was definitely the horse to beat.”

War of Will and Maximum Security went separate ways after the Derby. War of Will won the Preakness Stakes two weeks later before a ninth in the Belmont Stakes and a fifth in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga July 27. Maximum Security didn’t return to the Triple Crown, instead prepping with a second in the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth in mid-June before his victory in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational July 20.

Casse opted to keep Gary Barber’s War of Will out of the Grade 1 Travers, deciding instead to train the son of War Front up to the Pennsylvania Derby. War of Will prepped for his return at Saratoga and Belmont and comes in off four-straight bullet workouts, including a half-mile in :47.40 last Saturday. Regular jockey Tyler Gaffalione rides.

A Grade 1 winner as a 2-year-old for Baffert and owners WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International and Starlight Racing, Improbable went off as the post-time favorite for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He finished fifth (fourth via the DQ of Maximum Security) and sixth in those races before Baffert gave the son of City Zip a break.

Hall of Famer Mike Smith, aboard Baffert’s last two Pennsylvania Derby winners McKinzie and West Coast, returns on Improbable Saturday from post 2. Smith breezed Improbable Monday, guiding the colt to through a bullet 5-furlong move in 1:00.20 at Santa Anita Park.

Mike worked him and we are happy about that,” Baffert said. “I always like to be on the outside if I can, but the draw is over. It’s a short field. He just has to break well, that’s about it.”

Allied Racing Stable’s Mr. Money makes his third straight Derby start in search of his fifth consecutive victory for trainer Bret Calhoun. The winner of the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile and Grade 3 Matt Win at Churchill Downs this spring, Mr. Money won the Grade 3 Indiana Derby and Grade 3 West Virginia Derby this summer. Gabriel Saez rides Mr. Money, the 4-1 third choice, from post 6.

Rounding out the Pennsylvania Derby field are Ohio Derby runner-up Math Wizard (Edgard Zayas), the maiden Shanghai Superfly (Frankie Pennington) and Grade 3 Smarty Jones winner Spun to Run (Paco Lopez).


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