God's Tipster's Saturday Parx Picks: The 10 races including the Grade 1 Cotillion and Pennsylvania Derby
Friday’s Race Recap from Belmont at Aqueduct:
(All odds US)
Belmont at Aqueduct:
Race 5: 2nd@ 3.90/1
Race 6: 2nd@ 15.40/1
In Race 5, Woodside Warrior battled through a strong early pace, taking the lead turning for home and was easily best of eight other rivals. The only problem was that his ninth rival, Blue Plate Special, had his number, taking the lead inside the sixteenth pole and winning off. In Race 6, Rhombique was held off a slow early pace and got a rail-skimming ride while Avenue Neil blew by everyone in the stretch. We had to settle for a long-odds second once again.
Two silver medals have us champing at the bit for a few winners.
It’s Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby Day!! So, let’s head to PARX for the one day a year we spend there. The weather at Parx could be bad but we're hoping the rain stays away long enough. Let’s get started!
Race 1: Kohler’s - 1 pt win (US Morning Line Odds: 3/1)
Two-year-old maidens sprint six and a half furlongs to kick off our Pennsylvania Derby day! I find it hard to believe you’ll get the 3/1 morning line odds on Kohler’s anywhere, but if you can lock in those odds on this runner who may or may not be named after a popular toilet brand here in the States you’ll be in a good spot to start your day with a profit. We’ve got a field of 12 runners lined up and it’s never easy for a debut runner to get 6 1/2 furlongs first time out but 5 of the 12 runners will be doing just that. Of the other 7 runners, Kohler’s has the top speed figure by a full eleven points. He shows a bullet workout since that debut effort and hails from top local connections. He’ll be closer to 4/5 here in the US by post time.
Race 2: Notice of Action - 1 pt win (US Morning Line Odds: 7/2)
Pennsylvania-bred two-year-olds sprint 6 1/2 furlongs here in the Prince Lucky Stakes and we liked Kohler’s in Race 1 who lost his debut to Notice of Action - our selection for Race 2. August 21 was a busy day for these Pennsylvania-bred two-year-olds as that day included the Whistle Pig Stakes, a race where 7 of the 10 runners in this field exit. August 21 also included the debut race from Notice of Action and that’s relevant because in his debut effort at nearly 18/1 Notice of Action ran a full second (five lengths) faster than the winner of the Whistle Pig. What I like most about that gate to wire effort is that this two-year-old son of Hopportunity ran faster late in the race than he did early. That tells me he might be able to rate off what should be a fast, early pace. Like our selection in Race 1, I have a hard time believing Notice of Action will be 7/2 by post time, but those odds look fine if you can lock them down with your bookmaker.
Race 3: Dancing Magic - 1 pt win (US Morning Line Odds: 4/1)
The Imply Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs is the female counterpart to the Prince Lucky. There a ton of early speed signed on here without much staying power. I’m looking for that close to come from Dancing Magic, the only filly in today’s field to have ventured further than 5 1/2 furlongs. She’s actually done it twice and won one of those efforts while defeating eight rivals on turf at Saratoga - not an easy thing to do considering she’s not really bred for turf. Trainer Adam Rice is winning at 39% this year and has this two-year-old daughter of Social Inclusion primed and ready for this effort. Top rider in the US Irad Ortiz will ride and this one looks awfully tough to beat.
Race 5: Calle Amada - 1 pt win (US Morning Line Odds: 3/1)
Two-year-old maiden fillies sprint six furlongs and look no further than the rail to find our selection - Calle Amada. Calle Amada hails from the barn of Todd Pletcher who wins with 25% of his second time starters. First time out this miss ran into a buzzsaw named Ways and Means, who won by nearly 13 lengths. Most people won’t notice that this two-year-old daughter of Street Sense did well to run second that day finishing a full three lengths ahead of the next closest finisher while steadying and lacking room in the stretch. The bulk of the rest of this field consists of runners racing here at Parx, debut runners and a few racing in Maryland and New Jersey but the Saratoga two-year-olds generally reign supreme over their mid-Atlantic counterparts and once again the 3/1 morning line is likely to be closer to 4/5 by post time.
Race 6: Morning Matcha - 1 pt win (US Morning Line Odds: 9/5)
The Plum Pretty at a mile and seventy yards is our first stakes race for older runners – this one’s for fillies and mares. Morning Matcha should prove tough to top here at likely 3/5 odds by post time. This two-time stakes-winning filly has won 5 of 7 starts here at Parx and hasn’t missed the board yet at today’s distance in five starts. She finished a closing second to Society at 49/1 in last year’s Grade 2 Cotillion and most recently finished third behind subsequent Grade 1 Personal Ensign winner Idiomatic. She raced on turf last time out for some reason. That’s a surface she’s not bred for but should be much better suited to today’s surface while taking a sharp drop in class from whom she’s been facing on dirt.
Race 7: Calibrate - 1 pt win (US Morning Line Odds: 7/2)
The Grade 3 Greenwood Cup at a mile and a half is a major prep for the Breeders’ Cup Marathon. Next is likely to be favored here at odds in the neighborhood of 3/5 but with pace pressure likely coming from local hopeful Ridin With Biden, I like Calibrate to spring the mild ‘upset’. Three starts back Calibrate finished a closing second behind Next in the Grade 2 Brooklyn at Belmont Park and last time out he finished a gaining second behind Ridin With Biden at a mile and a quarter at Parx. With those two likely to ensure an honest pace that should put Calibrate in the catbird seat to stalk and pounce. Those two races I referenced didn’t have a ton of early pace so Calibrate was at a bit of a disadvantage. Today he gets revenge on both rivals setting up for an interesting renewal of the Breeders’ Cup Marathon in November!
Race 10: Whelen Springs - 1 pt win (US Morning Line Odds: 5/1)
The Parx Dirt Mile has produced some thrilling finishes in the last few years and this year’s field is a contentious one. Gunite, 2/1 on the morning line will be closer to 1/2 by post time, is a deserving favorite with 9 wins from 19 starts and over $2million in earnings, but the glaring 0 for 2 with in the money finishes at today’s one mile distance is where my eye is immediately drawn. I think Gunite will be pressed today by Mish, who’s no slouch in his own right and that should set the table for someone from just off the pace. Whelen Springs is my selection to play that role. A two-time stakes-winning sprinter early in his career, Whelen Springs has found a new life shipping up from Oaklawn to Monmouth Park for new connections. After winning an optional claiming race he made Grade 1 winner Proxy work to earn a victory in the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup before winning the Grade 3 Iselin himself last time out. This is a serious runner and he’s probably going to be a bit overlooked here as he has been in his last few starts. His connections aren’t overly popular but have proven more than capable and he should be in the perfect stalking position from his outside post to spring the upset.
Race 11: Ninetyprcentmaddie - 1 pt win (US Morning Line Odds: 10/1)
The Grade 2 Gallant Bob (I’ve always wondered if that name referred to a ‘Gallant head-bob’ or someone named Bob who was just gallant but anyway…) this is a six furlong race for three-year-olds and can sometimes vault the right runner into the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The very first thing I asked myself when I started handicapping this race was “where’s the speed?” At first glance it looks like maybe Damon’s Mound and Ryvit and I thought this race could end up being a reprise if the Aug 25 stakes at Charlestown but the more I looked the more I realized that the controlling speed nearest the inside may actually be Dreaming of Kona. There’s also a turf sprinter named Sir Lancelot who should inject some pace. The benefactor to all that pace might just be cut-back runner Ninetyprcentmaddie for local trainer Robert Reid. Reid is winning at his usual 27% clip here at Parx and cuts this three-year-old son of Weigelia back from a mile and a sixteenth after contesting the Grade 3 Smarty Jones last time out. That technically makes him the runner cutting back in class the most even though this is a Grade 2 race. He owns four wins over the Parx surface and is a perfect 1 for 1 at six furlongs here. He should have enough tactical speed to sit just off the pace and be able to get the jump on late-closer Praetorian Guard. He’s worked a bullet since his most recent race and offers sneaky-good value here at 10/1 or higher.
Race 12: Ceiling Crusher - 1 pt win (US Morning Line Odds: 5/1)
The Grade 1 Cotillion at a mile and a sixteenth is oftentimes a vault to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff but that remains to be seen as nine three-year-old fillies line up to duke it out as our co-featured event on the card. Ceiling Crusher is my selection to win this in gate-to-wire fashion for trainer Doug O’Neil. The question is “how much pace will Hoosier Philly inject into the front end” and my theory is that with a short run into the first turn and her inside post there’s a good chance Ceiling Crusher may be able to speed away from them early and hold them off late. This three-year-old California bred daughter of Mr. Big is 5 for 6 in her bright career with her only loss at 7 furlongs when pushed through punishing early fractions. When she’s been able to set a reasonable tempo, she’s crushed. She’s got speed, she’s got the right post position and her numbers say she belongs with these. I like Ceiling Crusher to stamp herself a Distaff contender with this effort.
Race 13: Crupi - 1 pt win (US Morning Line Odds: 15/1)
The Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby at a mile and an eighth for three-year-olds is always a fun race and while this year’s field may lack some of the star-power the fields of years past have had, it doesn’t lack in contentiousness. Saudi Crown, Reincarnate, Magic Tap and Scotland will likely vie for favoritism and all have very similar running styles. That high-early-speed tactic may just play into the hands of a closer. Maybean improving closer. Maybe an improving closer from a top barn who will be a VERY big price. Let’s be honest, for a Grade 1 this field isn’t very good. So let’s get a little creative. I actually like Crupi in this spot. Still a maiden when he raced in the Grade 2 Risen Star and Grade 2 Wood Memorial earlier this year, Crupi didn’t distinguish himself from the rest of the developing three-year-olds early in the season, but that didn’t stop his connections from trying because they obviously saw talent in him. Given time to develop he returned with a maiden win at Monmouth in July followed by a strong win vs. older rivals as the rank outsider in a three-horse allowance race in the mud at Saratoga. I loved his effort that day as he leveled out nicely and continued on with giant strides. This is a late-developing son of Curlin and with a potential pace-meltdown I give him the nod to spring the upset here from off the pace.
Best of luck to all our members playing Saturday’s Pennsylvania Derby race card at Parx!!