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.
Who to Toss Out in the 2016 Kentucky Derby
One of the basic rules of horse handicapping is that you should first eliminate those horses without a hope of winning. These Kentucky Derby horses need to go.
It's much easier to handicap a horse race - and in particular a horse race with a field of 20 horses as run in the Kentucky Derby - if you eliminate the no-hopers and concentrate on those that actually have a good chance to win. Outside of the obvious favorite in Nyquist, this version of the Run for the Roses seems fairly wide open, but even then there are a few whose chances to get to the finish line first are roughly equal to a snowball's longetivity in Hades.
Some horses are just too slow
Trojan Nation made the field by picking up 50 points finishing second in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct - the slowest 9 furlong Wood Memorial in history. He ran the race at odds of 81-1, and has exactly zero lifetime wins to his credit. He won't win the Derby. Oscar Nominated seems to be in the field only because his owner's like to put a horse in every Derby, and even they waited until the very last minute to supplement him to the race. They should have saved the $200,000 fee. After Oscar Nominated, Tom's Ready has the slowest lifetime speed rating in the bunch, and he's not likely to suddenly get faster.
Some good horses face tough conditions
Lani is in the Derby on the strength of winning the UAE Derby. But no UAE Derby winner has ever come close to the Churchill winner's circle and Lani has never raced on dirt. The Kentucky Derby is not the place to try something brand new. Danzing Candy is a nice horse, and will have his backers on Derby Day. But he's a pure speed horse who will have to pass 19 others right out of the gate and get across the entire field to get to the rail, and no horse has ever won the Derby from the #20 post. Whitmore is another who will be taking some money, but three straight races he's made a bifd for the lead and been unable to close the deal while getting passed late, all indications that the 1 1/4 miles is farther than he can go. Destin comes into the race off an eight-week layoff, meaning he likely just needs a race to get into top form, and his wins have come at Tampa Bay Downs, which in racing terms is a long, long way from Churchill.
That takes away more than a third of the field, and the handicapper's job is made much easier.
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.