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Some of the best 3-year-olds in the nation, both male and female, will be on display Saturday afternoon at Parx Racing as the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby and the $1 million Cotillion Stakes lead the way in a stakes laden card of racing at the Suburban Philadelphia oval. Hot Rod Charlie and Midnight Bourbon, second in the Belmont Stakes and Preakness respectively, will be the headliners in the Derby as both hard-hitting colts seek their initial Grade 1 score.
On the female side, it will be Clairiere and Army Wife, who look to run with abandon free from the imposing shadow of Malathaat, as they top the Grade 1 Cotillion. Like the top two will face in their male counterparts, the pair will face an interesting group of candidates looking to pull off the upset in the million-dollar event. Among the many other stakes races on the big Saturday card, include a pair of big names in Jackie’s Warrior, running in the Gallant Bob, and Silver State, competing in the Parx Dirt Mile.
This week it will be all about Parx as we handicap six of the biggest stakes races on their rich card, which totals better than $3.7 million in total purses. Many of the horses who run well on Saturday will make the trip out to Del Mar next for the Breeders’ Cup.
With the scratch of Medina Spirit, the door becomes even more open for the pair of Hot Rod Charlie and Midnight Bourbon as the leading characters in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on Saturday. Each won graded stakes races earlier this year, but has not found the winner’s circle of late while running well in many of America’s most prestigious races. Hot Rod Charlie figures to be the favorite as he looks for his first Grade 1 victory, despite running big in his first four attempts at racing’s highest level. Trained by Doug O’Neill, the winner of the Louisiana Derby was most recently taken down from the first spot in the Grade 1 Haskell for interference down the stretch.
In Midnight Bourbon, he will face a familiar foe who also continues to run well against top competition. Second in the Preakness in May, the Steve Asmussen trained son of Tiznow enters the Pennsylvania Derby off what likely was his best performance yet when finishing a game runner-up behind the champion in the Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga. After the scratch of Medina Spirit, a field of nine remains for the signature race at Parx Racing.
Our Pick: Hot Rod Charlie (5/2) – The son of Oxbow has only gotten better with experience and looks primed for his first Grade 1 victory.
It’s no shame to finish behind the division leader Malathaat and that is exactly what Clairiere and Army Wife did when second and third respectively behind her last time in the Grade 1 Alabama. The pair of classy fillies will renew acquaintances when they headline a field of nine sophomore females entered for Saturday’s $1 million, Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing.
Knocking on the door ever since winning the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds back in February, Clairiere is the morning line favorite. The daughter of Curlin has been a consistent and competitive presence in major stakes races throughout the 2021 season and finished strongly to take the place in prestigious Alabama. Army Wife, meanwhile, had her graded stakes-winning streak snapped when third in Alabama, but ran another strong race at Saratoga. Before that, the Declaration of War filly had impressively scored in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico and the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows for trainer Mike Maker.
Our Pick: Army Wife (7/2) – She did the dirty work in the Alabama; a similar performance will earn the Mike Maker trained filly her biggest win to date.
Despite coming in off his first defeat of the season, when third behind Knicks Go and Maxfield in the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga, Silver State looks like the one they will all have to beat as eight older males battle it out for the top prize in the $200,000 Parx Dirt Mile on Saturday at Parx. Already a four-time stakes winner in 2021, the son of Hard Spun had a six-race winning streak snapped in one of the premier races of the year for older males. Two races back, he earned his first Grade 1 victory in Belmont Park’s Grade 1 Met Mile.
Chief among his rivals will be the multiple Grade 1 winner Mind Control. A seven-time stakes winner in his career, the Todd Pletcher-trained veteran broke a losing streak two starts back when winning the Grade 2 John A. Nerud Stakes at Belmont Park. In his most recent effort, the son of Stay Thirsty finished fourth, beaten by less than three lengths in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga.
Our Pick: Silver State (8/5) – The Met Mile winner finds class relief here and should roll to his fifth stakes win of the season on Saturday.
After a failed attempt last time on the grass, the two-time stakes winner Moretti will be on more familiar ground when he tops a field of nine entered to go a full 12 furlongs in Saturday’s $200,000 Greenwood Cup at Parx Racing. A 5-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro, the Todd Pletcher trainee has done his best racing going a route of ground on the main track. Last year, he accounted for both the Flat Out and the Birdstone in New York but has failed to find the winner’s circle in four tries this season.
His challengers include a host of challengers who have found considerable success at Parx. Among them is the Grade 1 winner Math Wizard, whose claim to fame is a victory in the Pennsylvania Derby two years ago. Having competed in a number of big races since the son of Algorithms has failed to finish first in his nine subsequent races.
Our Pick: Shooger Ray Too (8/1) – Late developing Wicked Strong colt will get a nice pace set up and should come running at the 1 1/2 distance.
The only female in the field, Caravel will take some beating as the morning line favorite in a big field of 13 ready to sprint it out for the win in the $300,000 Turf Monster at Parx Racing on Saturday. Coming up a little short last time against the males going 6 furlongs in the Grade 1 Highlander at Woodbine, the daughter of Mizzen Mast returns to her favorite distance of 5 furlongs for the Turf Monster. In fact, she is perfect at the trip, most recently romping home in a stakes race at Monmouth Park three starts back.
Topping her competition on Saturday will be a pair of formidable males in Firecrow and Carotari. The former has not run since May, but that came in a determined victory in the Turf Sprint on Preakness day at Pimlico. The latter is a multiple-stakes winner at the distance and fired a big shot most recently as the runner-up in the Grade 3 Troy Stakes at Saratoga on August 6.
Our Pick: Carotari (9/2) – A lover of 5 furlongs on the turf, this son of Artie Schiller comes in off his best race yet, when second to Fast Boat last time at Saratoga.
Fresh off a game and impressive victory over Life Is Good in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial at Saratoga, Jackie’s Warrior looms an overwhelming favorite in a seven-horse field set for the $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes on Saturday at Parx. A three-time Grade 1 winner, the son of Maclean’s Music seems to have found the easiest spot of his season in the 6 furlongs, Grade 2 affair. He will break from the outside post under regular rider Joel Rosario, as he looks to ready himself for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on November 6 at Del Mar.
Chief among his rivals are a trio of recent stakes winners. Real Talk is the morning line’s second choice and comes in off a win in the Jersey Shore Stakes last month at Monmouth Park. The only other graded stakes winner in the field, Pickin’ Time beat statebreds in the New Jersey Breeders, also at Monmouth Park last time. Meanwhile, Beren has earned two stakes wins locally, most recently accounting for the Parx Summer Sprint Stakes one month ago.
Our Pick: Jackie’s Warrior (4/5) – Impossible to look past the horse I believe is our nation’s top sprinter in his prep for the Breeders’ Cup.
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Email: [email protected]
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