Parx Racing: Travers Winners Headline Pennsylvania Derby

Alpha and Golden Ticket deadheat in 2012 Travers at Saratoga © Dennis Donohue |

They ran 1 ¼ miles at Saratoga in the Travers (G1) on Aug. 25, and at the wire they could not be separated, one the 5-2 betting favorite, the other a 33-1 longshot, producing a stunning deadheat in the Mid Summer Derby.

The previous deadheat occurred in 1874 between Attila and Acrobat, and that race was decided by a runoff, with Attila getting awarded the victory.

There was no such runoff this summer, but Godophin’s Alpha and Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Golden Ticket will have their runoff on Saturday in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G2).

The duo were both entered on Monday for the marquee event of the Parx Racing meeting on Saturday, a card that also features the $1 million Cotillion (G1) for three-year-old fillies.

Also to be decided at Parx on Saturday is the $300,000 Gallant Bob for three-year-olds going six furlongs, and $100,000 Alphabet Soup for Pennsylvania bred three-year-olds and upward.

Alpha figures to go off as the betting choice among the eight runners entered. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee has won four of his six starts this year, his only losses coming when he came up a neck short in the Wood Memorial (G1) and a 12th place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1).

Golden Ticket came into the Travers off a 3 ½ month layoff and was dismissed by horseplayers. He came up the inside with a ground saving trip under jockey David Cohen, took over the lead in the stretch and nearly held off Alpha.

Trained by Ken McPeek, the colt took six tries to earn his diploma, and then was a game second in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and fifth in the Lexington (G3) at Keeneland on polytrack.

His final tune-up for the Travers was a neck loss in a first level allowance optional claiming race on May 5 at Churchill Downs.

McPeek actually had no plans on running the colt in the Travers, but another stake the day before did not fill, and the connections decided to swing for the fences in the Travers.

Others that figure to take some action at the betting windows including West Virginia Derby (G2) winner Macho Macho, Secretariat (G1) fourth place finisher Handsome Mike, and Count Fleet runner up Stephanoatsee.

The Cotillion drew a compact field of four, setting up a match race between two of the top three-year- old fillies in training.

My Miss Aurelia comes into the race undefeated in five career starts, last out winning the restricted Mandy’s Gold, her first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) last fall at Churchill Downs.

Her main rival will be Questing, who won the Coaching Club of America Oaks (G1) and Alabama (G1) by a combined 13 ¼ lengths in those two victories.

Rounding out the field is Smart Guest runner up Moment in Dixie and Prince of Wales winner Dixie Strike.

Coming up on Saturday at Belmont Park is the $200,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap (G2) for fillies and mares going 6 ½ furlongs on the main track.

The race is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race, with the winner earning an automatic starting berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).

Among those pointed toward the race are the Todd Pletcher trainees Turbulent Descent and Mildly Offensive.

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