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.
Parx Racing a Special American Track
Often referred to as ‘The Home of Smarty Jones”, Parx Racing outside of Philadelphia, PA is one of the most unique thoroughbred racing tracks in the United States. It’s one of the only tracks to offer year-around live racing, it’s the only track outside of the Breeders’ Cup events to host two $1,000,000 races on the same day, and it was one of the first tracks to offer a direct way to wager from the comfort of your home when it launched its ‘Phonebet’ service in the late 1980s.
Lots of live action and major stakes
Racing at Parx kicks off on January 1 of each year and continues to December 31, with the ponies running every Saturday through Tuesday, with a couple of special Friday dates thrown into the mix. The highlight of the racing calendar comes each September, with the running of the Grade II Pennsylvania Derby and the Grade I Fitz Dixon Cotillion Handicap. Both races are considered to be two of the final major prep events for horses aiming for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Smarty Jones puts Parx on the map
In 2004, Parx Racing received boost in stature with the success of Smarty Jones, a Pennsylvania-bred colt who called the track home. Undefeated to that point in his career, he captured the attention of the entire sporting world in winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown in spectacular fashion. With journeyman jockey Stewart Elliot, he went into the Belmont Stakes as the most popular Triple Crown contender in years, with ‘Smarty Parties’ being held around the country. Unfortunately, the grueling Belmont proved too much and he finished second, passed in deep stretch by long-shot Mine That Bird.
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.