PARX Racing will host the G1 $1,000,000 Pennsylvania Derby this Saturday as some of the best 3yr olds in the east make one last run before the November championships. The race will be run at 1-1/8 miles around 2 turns over the PARX dirt course. The Pennsylvania Derby has served as the race of choice for many of the top 3yr olds over the years that are leaving Saratoga for greener fall pastures. In fact, the past 5 Pennsylvania Derby winners all came off of runs in Saratoga’s Travers Stakes. The last victor not from Saratoga was Handsome Mike in 2012 who came off a win in the Arlington Million.
The PARX racing surface has been running fairly, with only a slight disadvantage to deep closers. This year’s field of 10 should not have to fight much bias as winners in 2 turn dirt routes have come from all over the track.
The pace should be provided by 5/2 morning line favorite McKinzie. After passing the wire 1st and placed 2nd through a contentious DQ in the G2 San Felipe at Santa Anita, this Bob Baffert trainee will likely look to the front again. He may be joined by 20/1 long shot Trigger Warning who has posted some good early fractions in the past but did not break well when facing stiffer competition in the Travers.
The rest of the field will be fighting for position as they enter the first turn. Breaking from post 10 will be Bravazo, a horse that likes to run well but always finds an excuse to not get the job done. Post 10 will be his excuse this week.
Instilled Regard will be making his first start for trainer Chad Brown, which is always dangerous. He hasn’t run since the Kentucky Derby but the angle of “1st start with Chad Brown” produces winners 29% of the time.
Core Beliefs has developed an every-other-race form cycle since stepping up to graded stake ranks and this would be the up race in that cycle. He hasn’t run since the Haskell where he finished 10 lengths back to Good Magic and 6 from Bravazo.
The horse I landed on is the 3/1 morning line 2nd choice Hofburg. Coming off of a win at Saratoga in a non-graded stake, Hofburg is a mere 2 for 6 lifetime, but his run in at Saratoga was more impressive than it may seem. His middle move in that race from last to within a length of the lead, then to a widening 4 lengths in the stretch, was against much weaker, but the turn of foot was impressive nonetheless. He posted the highest 2nd call speed figure in the field in a race he should improve off of. He will also be adding blinkers this week which is an 18% winning angle for trainer Bill Mott.
I will take the 3/1 morning line and play Hofburg for the win.