Who's the Pennsylvania Derby pick with Maximum Security out?

September 17, 2019 03:30pm
Who's the Pennsylvania Derby pick with Maximum Security out?
Photo: Benoit

Mike Shutty, author of Horse Racing Nation’s Super Screener handicapping system, considered Improbable “loaded with form cycle upside” when making him the top choice following the draw for Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby.

And that was even before
Maximum Security — the 9-5 race favorite entering off a victory in the Haskell Invitational (G1) — scratched due to a health scare. With Tuesday afternoon's fallout, Shutty has tweaked how he’ll bet the 1 1/8-mile Parx Racing feature, but who he'll play given the major defection.

“If he behaves,” Shutty says of Improbable, “he is the top win play here and an even stronger conviction play with the scratch of Maximum Security.”

The Super Screener, a time-tested, data-driven product that covers major races on a weekly basis, now lists Improbable as the lone “A” horse for the Pennsylvania Derby — meaning to use the son of City Zip in all vertical and horizontal wagers.

Of course, Maximum Security’s scratch will hurt the price quite a bit. Bob Baffert-trained Improbable was the 3-1 second choice on the original morning line with Mr. Money (4-1) and War of Will (5-1) next. All of those figure to shrink in value.

“Baffert charges have won the last two editions of this race,” Shutty notes, with West Coast in 2017 and McKinzie in 2018, “and the barn is set to win its third in a row bringing in a loaded Improbable.

“This colt is a bit of head case, which cost him a better finish in the Preakness Stakes. Baffert wisely backed off this colt and worked with him, putting blinkers back on for his return.”

Shutty found Improbable to be “far more professional for a wound-up type” when he won Del Mar’s Aug. 25 Shared Belief Stakes in his first start since the Triple Crown series.

Mike Smith will be back aboard Saturday for the first time since the Preakness. Drayden Van Dyke, who rode Improbable in his return, was injured on closing day of the Del Mar meet.

Going back to his 2-year-old season, Improbable is a Grade 1 winner who finished second in both his Kentucky Derby preps, the Rebel Stakes (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1). He went off as the betting favorite in the Derby and Preakness.

Once back to the races last month, Improbable “contested white hot fractions against easy foes,” Shutty said, “but he continued on with interest and took care of business setting up for a new lifetime top in this affair.”

Now, important for players wagering on the Pennsylvania Derby is structuring a bet given the field has narrowed to six contenders. In the full
Super Screener, Shutty provides notes on each horse, plus his suggested tickets that key on what he believes to be a live longshot at a “square” price.

 

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