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.
Stakes Action at Keeneland Kicks Off With $200,000 Phoenix Stakes
On Friday, Keeneland will kick off their prestigious fall meet and unveil their new dirt racing surface which was installed this summer to replace their previous synthetic main track. The $200,000 Phoenix Stakes is the first stakes race of the season and the six-furlong contest has drawn a field of eight.
Rainbow Heir has been installed as the morning line favorite for trainer Ben Perkins, Jr. The four-year-old son of Wildcat Heir is stepping up to graded stakes competition for the first time this year after winning his last three starts, two of which came against restricted state-bred competition in New Jersey. Regular rider Angel Serpa will be aboard and the chestnut colt, winner of the Jersey Shore (G3) as a sophomore, will break from post four.
Bern Identity back in form after layoff
Second choice at 4-1 on the morning line is Bern Identity, undefeated from three starts this year for trainer Kelly Breen. After getting sidelined in January of 2013, he returned in August of this year and has won three consecutive stakes races. Paco Lopez, aboard for his victory in the Tale of the Cat Stakes two starts back, will be back in the irons from post two. The bay son of Bernstein has won six of his ten starts.
Six-figure Eastwood trying to make the grade
Also in the field at odds of 5-1 is Eastwood for trainer Todd Pletcher. Purchased for $240,000 as a weanling, the chestnut son of Speightstown will have John Velazquez aboard as he tries to earn the first stakes win of his career after winning an optional claiming race at Saratoga in August. He has won three of his seven starts and was fourth in his only other effort against stakes company in June in the True North (G2).
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.