A field of 10 line up on Saturday in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1) led by the Bill Mott trained Hofburg, who seeks his first Grade 1 victory.
The colt is coming off a sharp win in the restricted Curlin in the slop at Saratoga where he drew off to win by five lengths under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. who has the return call and breaking from the two post as the 3-1 second choice on the morning line.
The 5-2 morning line favorite is the Bob Baffert trained McKinzie, who has not been seen since getting disqualified from the San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita on March 10. Mike Smith has the return call.
We have three contenders in the race with Triple Crown experience.
In addition to Hofburg, who was seventh in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and third in the Belmont Stakes (G1), Instilled Regard (15-1) was fourth in the Run for the Roses and Bravazo (6-1) competed in all three jewels, a sixth in the Derby, a runner up finish in the Preakness (G1) and a sixth in the Belmont.
Baffert is looking for his third win in the race, taking the 2014 edition with Bayern and last year with West Coast.
The co-feature on the card is the $1 million Cotillion (G1) for three-year-old fillies which drew a strong field led by Monomoy Girl (3-5) who is seeking her sixth win in a row. She has a Grade 2 and four Grade 1 wins this year, taking the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) in her last outing at Saratoga.
Her foes include Queen’s Plate winner Wonder Gadot (6-1) who tossed in a clunker in the Travers (G1) last out and Midnight Bisou (5-1) who was second in the CCA Oaks two back and most recently was the beaten favorite in a third-place finish in the Alabama (G1) at the Spa.
A friendly reminder that Parx has a ridiculous 30% takeout on trifectas and superfectas.
Let’s head out to Philly for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Parx Racing Race 11 The Pennsylvania Derby (G1) Post time 5:45 ET
2 Hofburg 3-1
8 McKinzie 5-2
6 Axelrod 5-1
3 Instilled Regard 15-1
Hofburg was last early and came with a good middle move taking command while four wide and drawing off to win by five lengths in the restricted Curlin and did it over a racing strip that was kind to inside speed that day. This guy ran second in the Florida Derby (G1) in just his third career start and had a rough trip in a seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1). He came back with a better effort in the Belmont (G1) where he rallied for third. I do not think we have seen the best out of this Mott trainee yet and that could be today. Blinkers are added, and the colt has posted back to back bullet works. With the hood added I expect to see this guy closer to the pace here if Irad is smart enough to realize this colt can be.
McKinzie returns off the bench here for the Baffert barn that has won this race twice in the last five years, last year with West Coast and in 2014 with Bayern. The colt was last seen getting DQ’d from the win in the San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita in March in a controversial decision. He won his first three starts including getting put up in the Los Al Futurity (G1) last December in his first start against winners. The Baffert barn is 23% winners with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff. In Grade 1 races dating back five years Baffert is 4 for 12 (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff.
Axelrod is the lone runner in the field with a win over this surface taking the Smarty Jones last out by four lengths in a good looking effort. He was not off cleanly, had to wait for some running room around the far turn, angled out widest and finished with a flourish for the win. He won the Indiana Derby (G3) two back by a head in a game effort with a career top speed fig. The McCarthy trainee appears capable of moving forward off his last pair of starts and that can put him in the mix here at a decent price.
WIN: Hofburg to win at 5-2 or better.
EXACTA: 2,8 / 2,3,6,8
TRIFECTA: No play with a 30% takeout.