Pennsylvania Derby Picks: Alpha is Ticket in Travers Rematch

Alpha is the 9-5 morning line betting favorite in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing on Saturday

The Pennsylvania Derby shares top billing with the $1 million Cotillion (G1), the first time in the U.S. that two $1 million races were run on the same card with the exception of the Breeders’ Cup.

Alpha was sent off at 5-2 in the Travers and is the 9-5 morning line favorite on Saturday, while Golden Ticket, who was 33-1 in the Travers will be a much shorter price, listed as 5-2 second choice on the morning line.

There are six others in the field including West Virginia Derby (G2) winner Macho Macho, Hall of Fame (G2) runner up Csaba, and Count Fleet runner up Stephanoatsee.

It’s hard to believe a $1 million race would only draw four runners, but that is what we get in the Cotillion.

While it is not much of a betting race, we do get an intriguing matchup of two of the best three-year-old fillies in training.

Questing comes into the race off a pair of Grade 1 wins at Saratoga, taking the Coaching Club of America Oaks and the Alabama. She is the even money favorite on the morning line.

My Miss Aurelia, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Fillies (G1) champion will make her second start in 2012 in the Cotillion.

She won the Mandy’s Gold at Saratoga on Aug. 8 off a nine month layoff and puts her undefeated record of five wins in five outings on the line as the 8-5 second choice on the morning line.

Completing the field is Moment in Dixie (6-1) and Dixie Strike (4-1).

There is an all stakes Pick 4 at Parx that starts with the $100,000 Alphabet Soup Handicap and  the $300,000 Gallant Bob, followed by the pair of $1 million races.

I will have selections and analysis for all four aces in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.

Let’s head out to Parx for Saturday’s featured race of the day:

Parx Racing Race 11 The Pennsylvania Derby G2 Post time 6:16 ET

4 Alpha   9-5

1 Stephanoatsee   12-1

8 Macho Macho   4-1

6 Golden Ticket   5-2

Alpha looked beaten in the stretch and somehow managed to battle right to the wire and end up in a deadheat for the win with Golden Ticket in the Travers (G1) at Saratoga. The colt has bounced back nicely off a disappointing 12th place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1), two back a good looking score in the Jim Dandy (G2). If we draw a line through his two trips at Churchill Downs this guy just fires every time out. In the Jim Dandy he found himself on the lead, and there really is not much pace in here so he should be right in the mix early, likely tracking Csaba, who is adding blinkers and looks like the main early pace threat in the race. Our top pick makes his third start of his current form cycle and while he is coming off a career top speed fig, I do not think this guy is looking at a bounce.

Stephanoatsee only had to beat three foes last out at Delaware Park over a wet track in a race taken off the turf beating Alw-1 foes. He was making his first start off a seven month layoff for the Graham Motion barn. This guy showed some talent early this year breaking his maiden in his second career start and running second to Alpha in the Count Fleet on the inner track two back, beaten 2 ½ lengths. This guy has quite the pedigree, a half to Baghdaria ($725K), Lady Joanne ($987K), Afleeting Lady ($284K), and Shackleford ($2.7 million). He figures to move forward off his last effort and the 12-1 morning line looks fair enough to give him a good look in this spot.

Macho Macho is on the improve and is coming off a solid effort winning the West Virginia Derby (G2) at Mountaineer Park. The runner up in that race was Bourbon Courage, who returned to win the Super Derby (G2) by five lengths in his next outing at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 8. Two back at Monmouth Park he ran a good second to My Adonis in the Long Branch. He was off a beat slow and raced wide much of the trip while the winner had things fairly easy up front. The Steve Asmussen trainee will likely need to move forward a couple of lengths off his last effort to get the job done here but looks capable.


WIN: Alpha to win at 8-5 or better.

EXACTA: 1,4 / 1,4,6,8


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