Submitted by National Race Masters on Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 12:00 AM
TOP 3 KENTUCKY DERBY FINISHERS FACE NINE CHALLENGERS IN GRADE II PENNSYLVANIA DERBY
Best 3-Year Old Betting Race In Months
Kudos to PARX racing officials for timing the $1.25 Million Grade II Pennsylvania Derby at a time separated from the Haskell and Travers and far enough on the calendar ahead of the Breeders’ Cup that they have drawn the kind of field a horse bettor can salivate over.
For headline purposes the fact that the race drew the top 3 finishers from this year’s Kentucky Derby, winner NYQUIST, runner up EXAGGERATOR and third place finisher GUN RUNNER is a promotional dream scenario.
Despite losing his last two races, the Preakness and the Haskell, NYQUIST has been installed as the 5-2 ML favorite. For his part, Preakness and Haskell winner EXAGGERATOR has been installed as the second ML favorite at 9-2 and GUN RUNNER 4th at 6-1.
The public can be forgiven if hey gravitate to those three but as the ML on CUPID (5-1), SUMMER REVOLUTION (8-1) and AWESOME SLEW (10-1) among the others, this is a race that features 12 horses who have shown enough inconsistency in their form to make a look at both the plusses and minuses crucial.
Let’s take a look at those plusses and minuses.
AWESOME SLEW (10-1)
Plus – One of three runners to have been over the track he was “awesome” in winning the local prep Grade III Smarty Jones Stake here by 7 lengths in wire-to-wire fashion. He also ran third in the Grade III Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth three races back.
Minus – In between the two Grade III tries he was sent off at 32-1 in the Grade I Haskell when he tested this level and ran dead last, beaten 33 lengths.
Plus – He is a multiple Grade I winner, eclipsing the Santa Anita Derby, Preakness and Haskell Invitational. He is tractable enough to press or rally and returns in 4 weeks following the Travers failure.
Minus – Although he has run decently enough on a fast track it is well established that the connections would love rain. He was beaten 14 lengths in the Belmont and 33 lengths in the Travers over a fast surface.
SUMMER REVOLUTION (8-1)
Plus – He showed solid and dominant speed in winning the first two races of his belated career and despite this being his first two turn race the son of Summer Bird is bred for 9 furlongs.
Minus – He will face other speed in the race and when asked to step up to Grade I level in the King’s Bishop in his last was unable to settle and mount a rally after some trouble at the start.
Plus – Completed a strong speed oriented three race win streak when he eclipsed the Curlin Stakes as a prep for the Travers. In great hands with trainer Chad brown and jockey Castellano and has worked well.
Minus – In his first graded stakes try in the Travers he veered in a bit at the start but never challenged Arrogate, American Freedom or GUN RUNNER.
Plus – Bob Baffert appears to have the colt back in form with confidence building wins in The West Virginia Derby and Indiana derby in his last two.
Minus – Prior to the Mountaineer and Indiana Downs triumphs the son of Tapit was up the track as the odds-on favorite in the Arkansas derby and easy Goer Stakes.
WILD ABOUT DEB (20-1)
Plus – Showed improvement when a late rallying second behind AWESOME SLEW in the Smarty Jones Stakes.
Minus – Could not beat lesser in the Peter Pan Strakes and Ohio Derby and is still eligible for NW2L.
GUN RUNNER (6-1)
Plus – Consistent runner with good tactical speed has 5 wins and 2 thirds in 7 fast track races and is multiple Graded Stakes placed, including show finishes in the Kentucky Derby and Travers Stakes.
Minus – Has been well placed in a number of his Grade I Races but settles for minor awards.
MY MAN SAM (20-1)
Plus – Has good late kick when right as he showed when second in the Grade I Blue Grass and is handled by well-regarded Chad Brown.
Minus – has not come close in last two at this level when beaten 14 and 24 lengths respectively in Kentucky Derby and Travers Stakes.
Plus – Good enough to open his career with 7 straight ins culminating in the Kentucky Derby triumph. Since disappointment in the Haskell he has worked 4 straight solid one mile drills in his attempt to recapture his lost halo.
Minus – In his failures in the Preakness and Haskell in his last pair he wilted after being challenged early and faces more speed in here.
SUNNY RIDGE (12-1)
Plus – Has never been embarrassed in any of his races. His determined tactical cruising speed has produced seconds in the Delta Jackpot and Champagne Stakes as a juvenile and third behind EXAGGERATOR in the Haskell in his last try.
Minus – Has only raced once since early march and has only one public work since the Haskell.
DISCREET LOVER (30-1)
Plus – Knows the PARX circuit well with 11 of his 16 career races over the course.
Minus – Has only 2 wins from those 11 tries and in the Smarty Jones here 19 days ago was far back throughout and beaten 13 lengths.
HIT IT ONCE MORE (20-1)
NYSB colt enters here after front running daylight wins in the NY Derby at Finger lakes and the Albany Stakes at Saratoga.
Minus – Will have to negotiate his speed from the extreme outside post in race loaded with early types and in his only career open race was a no-threat 4th in the ungraded Easy Goer Stakes.
There are many angles to this race and a significant number of contenders. Value bettors should definitely get involved.