Image for Brian Zipse Brian Zipse - October 14, 2022

Pennsylvania Derby: Tawny Port Should Be Ready to Run His Absolute Best With Eight Weeks Between Races

Pennsylvania Derby Odds and Post Position

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2022 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx!

PP Horse TwinSpires Odds Jockey Trainer
1 ZANDON 5/1
BET HERE
J Rosario C Brown
2 ICY STORM 40/1
BET HERE
J Laprida F Flores-Coba
3 B DAWK 20/1
BET HERE
F Pennington D O’Neill
4 SKIPPYLONGSTOCKING 10/1
BET HERE
E Gonzalez S Joseph Jr
5 CYBERKNIFE 3/1
BET HERE
F Geroux B Cox
6 WE THE PEOPLE 12/1
BET HERE
F Prat R Brisset
7 TAWNY PORT 6/1
BET HERE
I Ortiz Jr B Cox
8 TAIBA 5/2
BET HERE
M Smith B Baffert
9 SIMPLIFICATION 10/1
BET HERE
P Lopez A Sano
10 NAVAL AVIATOR 20/1
BET HERE
A Adorno E Padilla-Preciado
11 WHITE ABARRIO 8/1
BET HERE
L Saez S Joseph Jr

Pennsylvania Derby Predictions and Best Bets

Here are my plays ($72 in total)

$8 Exacta Box – Tawny Port, Zandon and Taiba  = $48

$2 Exacta Box – Tawny Port, Zandon, Taiba and Naval Aviator  = $24

Top Pick: Tawny Port (6/1)

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Pennsylvania Derby Tawny Port

A competitive first and second in the Grade 1 Haskell in July, Cyberknife and Taiba renew their rivalry in a loaded field of 11 set for Saturday’s Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx.

Despite finishing second to his rival last time at Monmouth Park, the Bob Baffert-trained Taiba has been installed as a slight 5/2 favorite on the morning line of the 9-furlong test.

One of four Grade 1 winners in the field, the son of Gun Runner will be looking for his first win since scoring in the Santa Anita Derby back in April in only his second career start.

Cyberknife, meanwhile, will be looking for a third victory at the highest level, having also won the Arkansas Derby in April.

Also, a son of Gun Runner, he finished second behind division leader Epicenter last out in the Grade 1 Travers.

There are numerous potential upsetters of the top two in Saturday’s million-dollar affair, led by the second and third place finishers in the Jim Dandy, Zandon and Tawny Port.

Zandon, who won the Grade 1 Blue Grass this spring at Keeneland, finished third in both the Kentucky Derby and Travers, surrounding his second-place finish behind Epicenter in the Jim Dandy.

Tawny Port has not run since his good third in the Jim Dandy, but was the winner of the Grade 3 Ohio Derby before that.

Pennsylvania Derby Predictions and Race Analysis

Taiba

This Gun Runner colt showed he was a very talented runner right out of the gate with a big debut win sprinting and then a Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby win in only his second career race.

The Kentucky Derby was predictably not his day, but after a brief freshening, he came back to turn in a big effort when narrowly missing in the Grade 1 Haskell. Cyberknife beat him that day, but this looks like a spot where he can move forward off that experience.

In the Pennsylvania Derby, the Bob Baffert-trained runner has found another difficult spot, but he seems very likely to run a strong race and is one of the main contenders for the victory on Saturday.

Cyberknife

The bigger name of the two from the barn of Brad Cox, this son of Gun Runner deserves respect as the only two-time Grade 1 winner in the field. Having said that, he comes out of a series of very tough races, most recently getting the win in the Haskell, before holding on for second in the Travers.

As one of the favorites, I wonder if all the racing this spring and summer could catch up with him on Saturday. He has a proven game, but this will be another big test as he faces a deep and talented field.

It would be no surprise to see him right there again on Saturday, but in a field like this you need to make some tough handicapping decisions and thus I will be looking for horses with a little less racing and a little more value.

Zandon

He consistently runs good races, but with his third-place finish in the Grade 1 Travers, his record dropped to one win in five races this year. Still, having kept nothing but the best company, never finishing out of the money is nothing to dismiss.

As a son of Upstart, it would come as no surprise if he was better at 9 furlongs then 10, so the cut back in distance could help him get over the hump. That and not having to face Epicenter for the first time in four races.

With the likely 3-year-old champion passing on this one, it would come as no surprise to see this Chad Brown-trained runner replicate his Blue Grass score of four starts back.

Tawny Port

A winner of 4-of-8 lifetime starts, this son of Pioneerof the Nile was held out of the Travers to point specifically for this Pennsylvania Derby test. When last seen he was running a very good race down on the rail when beaten by Epicenter by just two lengths in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga.

Proven at the 9-furlong distance, note that in the 10-furlong Kentucky Derby he made a threatening move before flattening out just a bit late. The two-time graded stakes winner also should get the speed he needs to set up his rally.

Trained by Brad Cox, he should be ready to run his absolute best with eight weeks between races. In a wide open Pennsylvania Derby, he is the top pick.

White Abarrio

His performance last out in the Haskell was too bad to believe, but still you have to wonder about the horse who looked so good in winning the Grade 1 Florida Derby back in March.

His Kentucky Derby effort was disappointing and then he did bounce back in the Ohio Derby, but was only second best behind Tawny Port that afternoon at Thistledown.

With Luis Saez riding him for the first time, I would expect him to show speed from his outside post, but overall this looks like a very tough spot against several horses who seemed to be heading in a much better direction than him.

Skippylongstocking

After a non-threatening fifth in the Preakness, this experienced son of Exaggerator has shown more speed in his last two and ran quite well to finish third in the Belmont and then win the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby.

In both, he stalked the early speed of We The People and wore him down in the stretch to earn his good finish. That will be the assignment once again, but this time there are numerous other good horses in the race who look to employ a similar race tactic.

While I like the horse he has become, this will be the deepest field he has faced yet and I like others better in the top spots.

Simplification

Much like White Abarrio, this son of Not This Time seemed to be a better horse earlier this year in Florida than we have seen lately.

Having said that, he did run a very good race in the Kentucky Derby to finish fourth, but his sixth in the Preakness and then third in the West Virginia Derby do not inspire confidence heading into this one.

He did have a little trouble in the Middle Jewel and then perhaps the track condition at Mountaineer did him in, so improvement is certainly possible on Saturday. An interesting longshot, but in this loaded field, I am looking elsewhere in the top two spots.

We the People

Speed is always dangerous and this son of Constitution has plenty of it. After rolling home over a wet track in the Grade 3 Peter Pan, he was not quite Grade 1 material in either the Belmont or the West VIrginia Derby.

While it’s possible he can turn the tables on Skippylongstocking this time around, I suspect that there will be too many good horses breathing down his neck early to expect him to take this field all the way around.

While his is usable in the exotics, I like too many others better to consider him strongly for the win.

B Dawk

This Doug O’Neill-trained son of Gormley has made some strides of late, winning two of his last four. Unfortunately, both came against lesser competition while going 7-furlongs.

In his only stakes try, he was unable to run with Ethereal Road late, and that one has proven to be not as good as many in here.

He does have the early speed to make himself a part of things early, but I can’t see him becoming a serious threat when the real running begins.

Naval Aviator

Likely to be the second longest shot on the board on Saturday, this Tapit colt has made real improvements since being claimed three starts back at Churchill Downs.

His two wins at Churchill came against cheaper horses, but last time he did run against a good older horse when second to Keepmeinmind at Saratoga.

Never having been in a stakes race before, he clearly deserves to be a longshot, but his last three performances are good enough to at least consider including in the exotics at huge odds.

Icy Storm

This son of Keen Ice was able to put together three straight wins but those came against cheap claimers. When faced with allowance horses at Parx last time, he could do no better than a well-beaten second.

The hill to climb in this solid Grade 1 field will be much too much for him on Saturday. He is hard to recommend.

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How to watch the Pennsylvania Derby

What Pennsylvania Derby
Location Parx
Time Saturday, September 24 — 6:10pm Eastern time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $1,000,000
Image for Brian Zipse

AUTHOR

Brian Zipse

225 Articles

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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