The Grade I, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby is this Saturday’s feature race at Parx. Travers winner WEST COAST leads a cast of 10 three-year-old colts who will head postward at approximately 5:45 p.m. EST. The Pennsylvania Derby is the 11th race on a 13-race program that also features the Grade I, $1 million Cotillion. Several of the country’s best jockeys will be at Parx, so be sure to factor that in when playing FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!
#4 WEST COAST (8-5, morning-line favorite) got a somewhat soft setup in the Travers, galloping on a loose lead, but responded well when pressured late by Gunnevera and earned a big speed figure to boot. He faces a different challenge in the Penn Derby, cutting back to 1 1/8-miles with speed drawn to his inside. Mike Smith has won with this horse from off the pace before, so that is of no concern. However, WEST COAST is making his sixth straight start at a different track, and three coastal trips have already been included. That tends to tire a horse out over time, though WEST COAST has shown no signs of fatigue so far. Bob Baffert has this one training well, so as long as WEST COAST takes to the Parx surface, he should be able to handle these. He might not be the greatest proposition at 8-5 though.
#5 IRAP (3-1) is a worthy adversary despite finishing 5 1/2 lengths behind WEST COAST in the Travers. IRAP got a rough trip under Mario Gutierrez that day due to a bad post, going four-wide on both turns. IRAP should benefit from today’s distance reduction and has already proven he can handle the dirt at Parx (see his AM worktab). IRAP adding a fourth stakes score to his résumé would not be a surprise.
#1 TIMELINE (5-1) faded late in a Haskell that was dominated by late closers. Prior to that race he was undefeated in four starts, two at the graded level. Chad Brown has this one training brilliantly and Javier Castellano will be aboard once more, so a form reversal could be in order. TIMELINE just has to be careful not to get embroiled in a duel with OUTPLAY, among others.
#2 OUTPLAY (12-1), Todd Pletcher’s lone charge, already has a win on the Parx oval from earlier this year. He was no match for WEST COAST in June’s Easy Goer Stakes at Belmont but crushed his foes in the Curlin when last seen at Saratoga. He too has been training excellently for his biggest challenge to date. John Velazquez sees fit to stay aboard.
The play: $6 exacta 4/5, $2 exacta 4/1,2, $2 exacta 5/4 ($12)
DFJ analysis: Mike Smith has just two mounts but they’re the Cotillion and Penn Derby favorites (Abel Tasman and WEST COAST). Unless one of them completely misfires Smith’s assured a major check, if not a win, in both races.
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