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.
Shared Belief Lays Over 12 Rivals in Big Cap
The 78th running of the Grade 1 $1 million Santa Anita Handicap February 7 has drawn a full field of 13, but everyone not named Shared Belief could be running for second in the mile and a quarter race if things unfold as expected.
Shared Belief is the deserving 3/5 morning line favorite after notching consecutive graded stakes victories following the lone defeat of his career in the November 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic. The four year-old son of Candy Ride has enjoyed a brilliant career winning 9 of 10 races for earnings of over $2.3 million. In his last start, Shared Belief solidified his billing as the top dirt horse in training by beating 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome by a nonchalant length and a half in the Grade 2 San Antonio Invitational. If there are any chinks in Shared Belief’s armor, they are well-concealed entering the 2015 Big Cap. Regular jockey Mike Smith will have the mount breaking from post five.
Moreno (6/1) is the only other grade 1 stakes winner in the field. The speedy Eric Guillot trainee posted a gate-to-wire score in the Grade 1 Whitney last summer at Saratoga and nearly followed that effort with a win in the Grade 1 Woodward, but was overhauled in deep stretch. Moreno followed those efforts with successive flops in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic. The five year-old gelded son of 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper has been idle since the BC Classic.
Catch a Flight (12/1) has raced twice in the United States since being shipped from Brazil, but steps up sharply in class for trainer Richard Mandella after beating $40,000 foes 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.