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.
KY Derby Runner-Up Headlines $100,000 Curlin Stakes
The $100,000 Curlin Stakes July 25 at Saratoga may not be a graded race, but once again features at least one marquee runner when the field of ten heads to post Friday afternoon in New York.
The Curlin Stakes, run a mile and an eighth on dirt, is restricted to three year-olds who have not won a graded stakes race over a mile. 2010 Breeder's Cup Class hero, Blame won the Curlin in 2009 when he was still a relatively unknown commodity. The 2014 renewal is headlined by Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve who, despite his name recognition and earnings of $542,434, has just one career victory to his credit.
Commanding Curve needs strong pace
Commanding Curve is the 5/2 morning line favorite, but will have to rebound from a disappointing ninth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes. Trained by Dallas Stewart and once again ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, Commanding Curve will carry 117 lbs and break from the rail post. With the Saratoga dirt course playing very kindly to horses with early speed, a fast pace might be necessary for Commanding Curve to find the winner’s circle.
Protonico second off the layoff for Pletcher
The lightly-raced Protonico, the second choice at 4/1, is trained by Todd Pletcher who has been red-hot through the first week at the Spa. Protronico has two wins in three career starts including a comeback victory June 25 at Belmont against an allowance field following a seven month layoff. Cousin Stephen (5/1 ML) is the third choice for trainer Chad Brown as that runner earned an allowance win at Parx in his last start.
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.