PA Derby (Grade 1)- $1,000.000 Purse
PRX- For Three Year Olds
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
September 23, 2017
This weekend, the attention of the world heads to the Keystone State for a fabulous card. The highlight of the day will be the annual PA Derby, that will run here at PRX for the 13th time. It is a race the brings together some of the champions of the TC season while sprinkling in some hot up and comers of the three year old season, running against their own age group likely for the last time. The BC Classic, and the likes of the great Atomic Twister are on the minds of this field as they go to the starting gate. Five Fives and Whats Up are just two of those that have made PRX part of their three year old success story. We have twelve set to do battle, and it’s time to take a look!
#1- How To Laff (Serenity Stables, ridden by J L Ortiz)- This colt spent time running in the TC, but those races were not the bright spot to his season. The best stretch came in the spring were winning the Grade 3 Gotham, then running third in the Wood Memorial (Grade 2), each at AQU. The good news is that TC runs did not ruin him, and he recovered nicely to win in the Grade 3 IND Derby in the middle of July. A try to cut his distance did not go well in his last start. His works seem to similar to how they were in July, so I like that, but How To Laff is still likely a longshot here.
#2- Key To Success (Smokey Stover, ridden by S X Bridgmohan)- This Chief Charley colt had a good start to his career running for smaller purses, but has found more difficulty as the trainer has tried to advance his career. He ran nicely at the Grade 3 IL Derby in April, and nearly won the race, but really did not show that ability to follow it up. More then likely, the trainer’s best shot is in the stall right next to him.
#3- Clash Study (Smokey Stover, ridden by J R Velazquez)- Had a six race winning streak snapped in his last race, the Grade 1 Woodward up at SAR, but that can’t put a damper on how well he has been running. The third place run at the Woodward saw him beaten by Atomic Twister and A One, so we’re fine with that. During the winning streak, he won the Grade 3 Dwyer at BEL, and the WV Derby at MNR, and showed versatility in running styles to do so, which is ever so important in our virtual world. He’s still at the top of his game, and this is a great tune up for the likely entry in the BC Classic.
#4- Profound Connection (Mb Stables, ridden by F Pennington)- At the beginning of the year, Profound Connection was my favorite three year old, and I anticipated a lot of big things from him. Here we are now in late September and he’s still looking for that big win, other then at prep time over the spring. The triple crown races strangely were not to his liking at all, but he came back well in the Travers, running second to the one next to him in the gate, to rekindle some of that old hope in him. He should win a big one this year, right? Is this the one?
#5- Bronx Bomber (Aer Stables, ridden by J Alvarado)- As the playoff chase heats up in baseball with the pinstripes looking good to return to the playoffs, Bronx Bomber has proudly been carrying this name with honor. While running in the Empire State in front of a lot a Yankees fans at SAR, Bronx Bomber swept the Dandy and the Travers! He became the fifth horse to accomplish that feat in our game, with A One being the most recent one to do it, in 2015, which was also the last time that the Bronx Bombers made the playoffs. He’s been happy ever since the shadow roll was removed, and he will be a great threat here in the middle of the lineup and maybe he’ll make us all rise.
#6- Hidden Slew Laff (Gdp Inc, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- One of the two PA-breds in this field, with the other also having Laff in his name, Hidden Slew Laff could get it done in his home state. He won’t be one of the first names that come to mind when looking at the talent in this field, but he has been getting it done too, such as in the Grade 3 OH Derby in June with a win, or the better then the line looks performance in the Haskell. Last month, he simply never fired in the Travers, and that’s why he won’t be a favorite. That can’t happen again.
#7- Shootfromthehip (Nakamura Stables, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- Our 2017 KYD Champion makes his first appearance in PA as he looks to add the PA Derby to the list of big races that he has won. Altogether, this has been a great year for Shootfromthehip, as not only did he win the KYD, he would score a win in what was a thrilling Haskell this year. He would forego the Travers or any other August race, so all the more reason to expect him to fire off a big one here. The trainer is definitely looking at the Classic and taking on the biggest stars the virtual world has to offer. Shootfromthehip will be one of the favorites, and we should enjoy watching him run here today.
#8- Range Of The Sun (Team 7 Illusions, ridden by J J Castellano)- This Cherokee Sunset gelding is one of those up and comers running here that is certainly one to watch for the future. He was brought along patiently by his trainer, which did mean no TC hunt, but it did lead to a good summer. In June, he would win the Grade 3 Affirmed at SA, and followed that up with a victory at the LA Derby at that race track. From those Grade 3’s, he came north for the Travers and ran a respectable sixth. He was passed by a few late there in a race that is a little longer, so that bears a mention. I like him at this distance, and we’ll see if he can keep shining brighter.
#9- Mancini (Our Athletes, ridden by M E Smith)- The gelding began his season with a couple of big runs in smaller Grade 3’s, which ultimately led to his victory in the BG Stakes, a Grade 2 prep race that was particularly meaningful for the trainer. Then, the TC season came and went with Mancini finishing closer to the back, then to the front. In the IND Derby, however, he bounced back well, finishing second in a tight photo to How To Laff. After a shorter race did not go as planned, Mancini looks to take on the type of field that he struggled with a bit in the big TC races.
#10- Lord High Admiral (John Henry, ridden by R J Albarado)- Purchased in December from Downwind Stables for $330.000, Lord High Admiral has had an impressive season that also seems like it is going to have one more big win in it. During prep season, he won both the Rebel and AR Derby at OP, and finished relatively well in the KYD itself. He remained in good form over the summer with a pair of third place finishes in two of the bigger races, the Haskell and the Travers. In each, he was within a length of victory, so with just a little more luck, each race could have been his. I like Lord High Admiral to get it done here in the PA Derby, as he has been on the cusp, and I don’t necessarily think a double digit starting position is the kiss of death. Not ideal, but it can be overcome, and I think Lord High Admiral runs the type of race where it won’t affect him too badly. He is my pick to win.
#11- Que Cosa (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by R Bejarano)- Still looking for his first win of 2017, and has only been in the money in two of seven starts this year. He’s been flirting with better finishes however, and one of those second place runs was a very good run, missing out to Hidden Slew Laff in the OH Derby. That race saw the addition of lasix for the first time, so it led to optimism for bigger things, but he was not a factor in the Dandy at SAR a month later. Perhaps, inconsistency is more of an issue with this one. He’s a longshot, regardless of where he is in the starting gate.
#12- Laffin Parrot (Mo Mentum Farm, ridden by V Espinoza)- This one got everyone’s attention at the prestigious Queens Plate at WO, which was run on a sloppy track, winning that race by eight lengths. In our virtual world, any high level stake that is won by the margin is especially impressive, regardless of track condition. That result was a bit of no where to most, as he was a 37/1 longshot with not the biggest resume at that point. Later in July, he would run second in the Prince of Wales, so he really got it going in his home country. Going long on the grass in the Breeders Stakes at WO last month resulted in a third place run against accomplished turf stars. With those races behind him, he returns to the States, hoping to continue this form. He’s a very, very, intriguing wild card here.