Eleven 3-year-olds get the chance to make a statement Saturday on the road to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
The Pennsylvania Derby and the $1 million Cotillion Stakes (G1) for 3-year-old fillies headline Saturday’s slate at Parx. Ten stakes events are scheduled at the Bensalem, Pa., track, including five that are graded.
Trainer Steve Asmussen is working Travers Stakes (G1) winner Epicenter up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 5 at Keeneland. At 5-1, he was the shortest price among 3-year-olds listed Sunday in futures for that event.
Pennsylvania Derby starters Cyberknife and Taiba were both listed at 16-1 for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Either of them could improve their standing toward the World Championships with a win Saturday, while some of their lesser heralded rivals could emerge onto the Classic scene.
Taiba is the morning-line favorite for the Pennsylvania Derby despite finishing second to Cyberknife (3-1) on July 23 in the Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park. The lightly raced Santa Anita Derby (G1) hero makes only the fifth start of his career Saturday.
The Gun Runner colt’s trainer, Bob Baffert, has won the Pennsylvania Derby three times since 2014 and aims for a fourth score in the race. Taiba jockey Mike Smith was aboard two of those winners, McKinzie (2018) and West Coast (2017).
Cyberknife followed his Haskell victory with a runner-up effort Aug. 27 at Saratoga behind Epicenter in the Travers. The Brad Cox trainee can become a three-time Grade 1 winner Saturday, having also won the Arkansas Derby (G1) in April at Oaklawn Park.
Zandon (5-1) crossed third in the Travers, only a nose shy of runner-up Cyberknife. Trained by Chad Brown, he won Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes (G1) in April.
Cyberknife’s stablemate Tawny Port (6-1), twice a Grade 3 winner, finished third July 30 at Saratoga in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) behind Epicenter and Zandon. Saffie Joseph Jr. trains White Abarrio (8-1), the Florida Derby (G1) hero who tries to bounce back after running seventh in the Haskell. Skippylongstocking (10-1), also trained by Joseph, won the West Virginia Derby (G3) on Aug. 6 at Mountaineer.
Here is a look at the field for the 2022 Pennsylvania Derby (trainer and jockey in parentheses) with morning-line odds:
1. Zandon (Chad Brown, Joel Rosario), 5-1
2. Icy Storm (Felix Flores-Coba, Jeremy Laprida), 30-1
3. B Dawk (Doug O’Neill, Frankie Pennington), 20-1
4. Skippylongstocking (Saffie Joseph Jr., Edwin Gonzalez), 10-1
5. Cyberknife (Brad Cox, Florent Geroux), 3-1
6. We the People (Rodolphe Brisset, Flavien Prat), 12-1
7. Tawny Port (Brad Cox, Irad Ortiz Jr.), 6-1
8. Taiba (Bob Baffert, Mike Smith), 5-2
9. Simplification (Antonio Sano, Paco Lopez), 10-1
10. Naval Aviator (Ernesto Padilla-Preciado, Abner Adorno), 20-1
11. White Abarrio (Saffie Joseph Jr., Luis Saez), 8-1
TimeformUS’ pace projections show Taiba going out to a narrow lead Saturday under Smith, followed closely by Cyberknife.
Visit Horse Racing Nation’s free past performances page for more information on Saturday’s Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion.
Pennsylvania Derby links
Reinier Macatangay provides doubles options for the Cotillion Stakes and the Pennsylvania Derby, finding value in singling Cyberknife. Macatangay also examines where Cyberknife fits into the Eclipse Award race for the sport’s top 3-year-old.
Laurie Ross and Ashley Tamulonis go head-to-head handicapping the Pennsylvania Derby, with each picking a different Grade 1 winner atop their tickets.
When asked whether Taiba reminds him of any other horse he has trained, Bob Baffert did not hesitate in saying Silver Charm, who won the 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness for him.
Brad Cox admitted he was not sure how Cyberknife and Tawny Port will like – or not like – the main track at Parx Racing, where they will run for the first time Saturday in the Pennsylvania Derby. Cox talks more about the duo this week on the Ron Flatter Racing Pod.
The Pennsylvania Derby looks like an attractive race for bettors with a high-quality field, a range of racing styles and what appears to be real value on the face of it. Ron Flatter balances that excitement against Parx’s high takeout rates.
HorseCenter hosts Matt Shifman and Brian Zipse make Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion Stakes (G1) picks.
Pennsylvania Derby starters Taiba and Zandon are among J. Keeler Johnson’s horses to watch running this weekend.
Other Saturday stakes
Here is a look at other graded stakes taking place Saturday at Parx and elsewhere across the U.S. All post times are EDT.
2:15 p.m. – $175,000 Athenia Stakes (G3), 3-and-up fillies and mares, 1 1/8 miles (turf), Aqueduct
Kalifornia Queen (6-5), a Group 2 winner in Germany, aims for her first graded score in North America while making her first start of 2022. Jockey Manny Franco will climb aboard the 5-year-old Lope de Vega mare, who finished third-place Oct. 17 at Woodbine in the E.P. Taylor Stakes (G1) for trainer Chad Brown. Brown also trains Love And Thunder (5-2), third-place runner Aug. 7 at Saratoga in the De La Rose Stakes. In a Hurry (5-2) wheels back off an All Along Stakes win Sept. 10 at Pimlico for trainer Shug McGaughey.
3:32 p.m. – $200,000 Greenwood Cup Stakes (G3), 3-and-up, 1 1/2 miles, Parx, FanDuel TV
Fearless (6-5) has won back-to-back starts at marathon distances for trainer Todd Pletcher, including the Birdstone Stakes on July 28 at Saratoga and the Brooklyn Stakes (G2) in June at Belmont Park. Jockey Luis Saez will be up on the 6-year-old Ghostzapper gelding. Jamie Ness trains 2021 Greenwood Cup victor Magic Michael (4-1), who finished second Aug. 24 at Delaware Park in an allowance race. The Reds (5-1) exits an Aug. 19 allowance win at Saratoga for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr.
4:04 p.m. – $300,000 Turf Monster Stakes (G3), 3-and-up, five furlongs (turf), Parx, FanDuel TV
Stakes winner That’s Right (3-1) aims to make the grade for trainer Michael Moore after finishing sixth Aug. 14 in Saratoga’s Mahony Stakes. Jockey Andy Hernandez will ride the 3-year-old Goldencents colt. Juan Carlos Guerrero trains Vidal (3-1), who finished as runner-up at the allowance level Aug. 23 at Parx. Violent Turbulence (4-1) won the Parx Dash Stakes on that same card for trainer Kathleen Demasi.
4:35 p.m. – $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes (G2), 3-year-olds, six furlongs, Parx, FanDuel TV
Provocateur (4-1) finished third in June in Belmont’s Woody Stephens Stakes (G1), then won the Jersey Shore Stakes on Aug. 6 at Monmouth. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. will pilot the Into Mischief colt for Pletcher. Wesley Ward trains Nakatomi (9-2), a stakes winner who won his 2022 bow June 26 in a Churchill Downs allowance race. Scaramouche (5-1) won a Parx stakes event in March and has taken two straight races there at the allowance level, including Aug. 23 in his most recent start for trainer Guadalupe Preciado.
5:20 p.m. – $1 million Cotillion Stakes (G1), 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles, Parx, FanDuel TV
Secret Oath (2-1) seeks her first victory since delivering trainer D. Wayne Lukas his fifth Kentucky Oaks triumph in May at Churchill. Saez will get a leg up on the Arrogate filly, who ran second Aug. 20 at Saratoga in the Alabama Stakes (G1). Bob Baffert trains Adare Manor (7-2), a Grade 3 heroine who crossed second May 20 at Pimlico in the George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2). Goddess of Fire (5-1) finished third in the Alabama for Pletcher behind stablemate Nest and Secret Oath.
10:11 p.m. – $275,000 Dogwood Stakes (G3), 3-year-old fillies, seven furlongs, Churchill Downs, FS2
Echo Zulu (1-1), the champion juvenile filly of 2021, starts for the first time since scratching before the Acorn Stakes (G1) on June 11 at Belmont. Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. will be aboard the Steve Asmussen-trained Gun Runner filly, a three-time Grade 1 winner who crossed fourth in the Kentucky Oaks. Asmussen also trains Wicked Halo (7-2), whose three straight wins include the Prioress Stakes (G2) on Sept. 2 at Saratoga. Tarabi (4-1), who has twice hit the board in Echo Zulu’s Grade 1 wins, took the Wilton Stakes on July 14 at Saratoga.