The Grade 2 $1.25 million Pennsylvania Derby features the two biggest names from the Triple Crown trail September 24 at Parx as a field of 12 gathers in one of the most intriguing betting races of the year.
Grade 3 $100,000 Sen. Ken Maddy Wide-Open
The Grade 3 Senator Ken Maddy is the featured race of the afternoon Sunday October 25 at Santa Anita as a field of 8 fillies and mares will contest the six and one half furlong tilt on the tracks trademark down-hill turf course.
Baruta is the 7/2 morning line favorite for veteran trainer Richard Mandella after finishing sixth in her most recent start – the September 6 C.E.R.F stakes at Del Mar. Prior to that effort, Baruta finished a respectable second in the Grade 3 Ranch Bernardo and has run admirably in the past over the local green since shipping from her native Brazil in 2013. The six year-old mare has won 5 races in 20 tries for earnings of $253,558. She will start from post 6 under jockey Rafael Bejarano.
Velvet Mesquite could be a throw-out
Velvet Mesquite is one of three starters listed at the co-second choice morning line price of 4/1. The California-bred is trained by Blake Heap and will be looking to get back on track following a fifth and a seventh-place finish in her last two starts. Handicappers looking to eliminate a short-priced horse in a competitive field, may start by throwing out Velvet Mesquite based on her lack of quality recent form.
Other half of Mandella entry looks good
Mandella will also send the stakes-winning Spirit of Xian (9/2) postward as part of an uncoupled entry with Baruta. Spirit of Xian won the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes at a mile and an eighth in April, and has been competitive in three starts since with a pair of fourths and a second last out in the Unzip Me Stakes September 26.
The $1 million Cotillion Stakes September 24 at Parx features a true clash of the titans as the six-horse field is headlined by the undefeated, five-time grade 1 winner Songbird who figures to face the most stern challenge of her career.
In a completely wide open renewal of the Presque Isle Mile September 18 at Presque Isle Downs, 13 runners including the also-eligible will contest the eight furlong trip over synthetic footing.
Champion Songbird is set to make her much-anticipated return to the races in the $200,000 Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita on Saturday. The Grade 2 event will be run at a mile and a sixteenth and has attracted a field of seven.