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.
Penn Derby to Answer Some Questions
A trio of graded-stakes races go Saturday afternoon at Parx Racing, including the $1,000,000 Grade II Pennsylvania Derby. Going 1 1/8 miles on the dirt, the field includes Will Take Charge and Moreno, who battled to a 1-2 finish a month ago in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Will Take Charge was thought to be a contender on the Triple Crown trail this past spring, but failed to show much over the three races. After seven weeks off he came back to run second in the Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes.
Will a champion contender show up?
While the question with Will Take Charge is if he’s starting to fulfill the promise he showed early in his career, for Moreno it’s can a horse come out of nowhere to beat the best three-year-olds in the country? After all, it took him 10 races to break his maiden – but then he promptly went on to win going away next time out in the Grade II Dwyer Stakes at Belmont. In the Travers he certainly looked like a champion, going all out to hold off Kentucky Derby winner Orb through the stretch, and finishing ahead of a field that included three Grade I winners.
Java's War tries to get back in the conversation
One thing for sure is that Will Take Charge and Moreno won’t be going off at 9-1 and 33-1 as they did in the Travers (the morning line has them 2-1 and 5-2), so longshots will have to be found elsewhere. If all the money goes to those two, a price might be had on Java’s War (4-1 ML). He was fourth of four in the Swaps Stakes, but the Penn will be his second off a layoff. Fury Kapcori (8-1 ML) has been knocking on the door, finishing second in three of his last four, and will likely be on or near the pace under jockey Mike Smith.
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.