The Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on Saturday drew a field of 11 that will be trying to win a Grade 1 for the first time. The 1 1/8 mile signature race at Parx is the final Grade 1 stakes race of 2023 that is restricted to 3-year-olds and is run around two-turns.
Reincarnate, who is trained by Bob Baffert, was named the 3-1 morning line favorite. Baffert won this race four times since 2014 with Bayern, West Coast, McKinzie and Taiba. Bayern went on to a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in his subsequent start.
Will Take Charge in 2013 and West Coast in 2017 were named the champion 3-year-old male after winning the Penn Derby.
Here is a full field analysis for the Pennsylvania Derby with the official track morning line odds from Parx Racing. The race is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. EDT and is listed as race 13 out of 14 on a card which includes 10 stakes.
1. Modern Era, 50-1. Honor Code – Uriah St. Lewis / Patrick Henry Jr. – 8: 0-1-1 - $19,375. Modern Era is still a maiden after eight starts with four of them at Parx and the other four at Monmouth Park. Modern Era’s best finish was a second in a $40,000 maiden claimer at Parx and most recently he was third in a maiden special weight at Monmouth. Toss.
2. Dreamlike, 10-1. Gun Runner – Todd Pletcher / Irad Ortiz Jr. – 5: 1-2-1 - $167,450. Dreamlike began his career at Gulfstream Park with a pair of second place finishes in maiden special weights, then had the lead in the Wood Memorial (G2) and ended up third in a blanket finish. After a three-month layoff, Dreamlike broke his maiden at Saratoga as a heavy favorite going 1 1/8 miles. Last month he faced winners in an allowance, got off to a bad start and finished fifth. Blinkers come off. Pletcher won the Penn Derby back in 2002 with Harlan’s Holiday. Toss.
3. Saudi Crown, 7-2. Always Dreaming – Brad Cox / Florent Geroux – 4: 2-2-0 - $271,085. Saudi Crown won his first two races in a Keeneland maiden and then an allowance at Churchill Downs in May. He moved to New York where was second beaten by a nose in the Dwyer (G3) after setting the pace and then lost to Forte in the Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga on a sloppy track going nine furlongs. Win contender.
4. Magic Tap, 5-1. Tapit – Steve Asmussen / Tyler Gaffalione – 4: 2-1-0 - $161,440. Magic Tap is a lightly raced son of Tapit that has two wins from four career starts. In the first start of his career he won a maiden special weight at Churchill in his second race and also notched a victory in a Saratoga allowance by a neck while racing nine furlongs. He will make his first start in a stakes race in this Grade 1. Use underneath.
5. Scotland, 6-1. Good Magic – Bill Mott / Junior Alvarado – 5: 3-1-0 - $229,960. Scotland won 3 out of his first 4 races getting a maiden win at Gulfstream, an allowance at Churchill in June and the restricted Curlin at Saratoga. Last month on a muddy track at Saratoga he set the pace in the Travers (G1) but faded to sixth. Since starting his career in March he basically raced once every six weeks. Top Choice.
6. Daydreaming Boy, 12-1. Goldencents – Louis Linder Jr. / Dexter Haddock - 11: 4-1-1 - $186,960. Daydreaming Boy is one of the Parx-based horses in the field. Last month he stepped up from two allowance wins to run third in the Smarty Jones (G3) which is the local prep race for the Penn Derby. Toss.
7. West Coast Cowboy, 12-1. West Coast – Saffie Joseph Jr. / Tyler Conner – 7: 2-1-1 - $194,290. West Coast Cowboy was a debut winner at Gulfstream Park a year ago going a mile. He went on to try the Derby trail twice when he got a third in the Holy Bull (G3) and then was seventh in the Florida Derby (G1). West Coast Cowboy won an allowance in a field of six with Lasix for the first time. In a pair of mid-major derbies, He was fifth in Iowa and second in West Virginia. Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. won the 2019 Penn Derby with the 31-1 longshot Math Wizard. Use underneath.
8. Gilmore, 10-1. Twirling Candy – Brendan Walsh / John Velazquez – 9: 2-2-3 - $267,495. Gilmore was trained for the first three starts of his career by Bob Baffert. He broke his maiden in his second start at Los Alamitos and then he finished second in the El Camino Real Derby. He was moved to the barn of Brandon Walsh to give him a chance to qualify for the 2023 Kentucky Derby. Gilmore got his first win as a 3-year-old at Saratoga in an allowance race that was meant for the turf where he prevailed in a stretch duel by a neck as an odds-on favorite running with Lasix for the first time. Use underneath.
9. Crupi, 15-1. Curlin – Todd Pletcher / TBA – 9: 2-2-3 - $171,350. Crupi finished third in his first three starts last year as a highly regarded 2-year-old and then was second twice. He did little running in two starts on the Kentucky Derby trail in the Risen Star (G2) and the Wood Memorial. He got three months off and returned to finally get his maiden victory at Monmouth in July and followed that with an allowance victory at Saratoga last month. Toss.
10. Il Miracolo, 8-1. Gun Runner – Antonio Sano / TBA – 13: 3-4-0 - $311,625. Il Miracolo moved onto the Kentucky Derby trail after breaking his maiden at Gulfstream in November. He ran in five Derby preps and did not finish better than fifth. In May he won an allowance in Florida and then was not competitive in the Belmont Stakes. At Saratoga Il Miracolo was second every step of the way in the Curlin and followed that with a victory in the Smarty Jones. Use underneath.
11. Reincarnate, 3-1. Good Magic – Bob Baffert / Juan Hernandez – 9: 3-3-2 - $420,650. Reincarnate broke his maiden at Del Mar in November after running second in his first three starts. He then won the Sham (G3) on the Kentucky Derby trail followed by a pair of thirds in the Rebel (G2) and the Arkansas Derby (G1) which was enough to get a spot in the Kentucky Derby. Reincarnate got a short layoff after finishing 13th on the first Saturday in May. He came back in July to win the Los Alamitos Derby on the front-end. Win contender.
Summary: Although the field size for the Pennsylvania Derby numbers 11, there are only three stakes winners in the group and two of them own Grade 3 victories. Also, there are only two horses that ran in one of the Triple Crown races and five that made an appearance on the Kentucky Derby trail.
There are not any horses in the field that have fast early speed but there are at least six that prefer to run on the lead or press that early pace. The group includes the top three choices on the morning line – Reincarnate, Saudi Crown and Magic Tap along with Scotland, Il Miracolo and West Coast Cowboy.
It should be interesting to see how that pace scenario plays itself out and which jockeys decide to use more of a stalking strategy. Scotland, who was a last minute addition to the field, won an allowance closing from off the pace and jockey Junior Alvarado stays on board even though he was going to ride Il Miracolo. At 6-1 morning line odds, the Bill Mott runner will be the top choice.