It is the marquee afternoon of the year at Parx, with two million-dollar contests on a stakes-heavy Saturday card. Breeders’ Cup hopefuls Saudi Crown, Reincarnate and Scotland face off in the feature G1 2023 Pennsylvania Derby, while three-time G1 winner Pretty Mischievous bids to make it four in the G1 Cotillion against fellow top-level winner Defining Purpose and the upgrading Occult.
G1, $1m, 1m 1f dirt, 3yo, 6.10pm ET
The Pennsylvania Derby offers no golden ticket into the Breeders’ Cup, but the feature at Parx on Saturday could well have a bearing on the world championships as a handful of rising stars bid to increase their profile.
If he had a longer nose Saudi Crown (7-2) would be unbeaten and a big Breeders Cup Classic contender, having gone down by that narrow margin in both the 2023 G3 Dwyer at Belmont Park and the 2023 G2 Jim Dandy over a mile-eighth at Saratoga, when no less a horse than Forte nipped him late.
With just four runs under his belt there is every reason to believe there is more to come and his trailblazing style could be a potent weapon, although he could have company on the front end from Reincarnate (3-1), who is rebuilding his career after finishing out the back in the 2023 G1 Kentucky Derby.
He sat too close to the annual suicidal pace at Churchill Downs, but found life much easier in the ungraded 2023 Los Alamitos Derby over a mile-eighth, leading from the gate and cruising by two and a half lengths. He deserves another chance back in the big leagues and trainer Bob Baffert has won this a record four times.
This is a slightly easier spot for Scotland (6-1) after a heavy defeat in the 2023 G1 Travers at Saratoga. He had earlier gone gate-to-wire for an easy score in a mile-eighth stakes at the Spa, drubbing Il Miracolo (8-1) by three and a quarter lengths, and may be another pace angle with scope to move back up.
The hard-working Il Miracolo boosted that form when taking the 2023 G3 Smarty Jones here over a mile-sixteenth, with Daydreaming Boy (12-1) late on the scene for third, beaten four and three-quarter lengths, but that might be as good as he is and he will need a lot more in this company.
Stakes debutant Magic Tap (5-1) takes a huge class hike after getting up to win a Saratoga mile-eighth allowance by a neck in buzzer-beating style, with Dreamlike (10-1) a disappointing fifth as odds-on favourite, beaten more than 12 lengths.
Magic Tap may be ready for more but this could be too much too soon, while Dreamlike’s show-spot in the 2023 G2 Wood Memorial flatters him greatly; it was a weak race. Dreamlike’s barnmate Crupi (15-1) won a three-runner allowance at the Spa last time and has yet to show he belongs anywhere near this level.
Fellow Saratoga allowance winner Gilmore (10-1) is zero-for-six in stakes and this is his toughest test to date. He did show enough when third in the 2023 G1 Woody Stephens over seven furlongs at Belmont to give him a puncher’s chance of hitting the board, although the distance could stretch him too far.
2023 Pennsylvania Derby Odds
|Horse||Jockey||Horse Racing Odds by Jazzsports|
|Modern Era||Patrick Henry, Jr||+5000|
|Dreamlike||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||+1000|
|Saudi Crown||Florent Geroux||+350|
|Magic Tap||Tyler Gaffalione||+500|
|Daydreaming Boy||Dexter Haddock||+1200|
|West Coast Cowboy||Tyler Conner||+1200|
|Gilmore||John R. Velazquez||+1000|
|Reincarnate||Juan J. Hernandez||+300|
Third time at Graded level for SAUDI CROWN should be the charm, with solid G2 form already on his record and the strong probability of better to come.
G1, $1m, 1m 1/16 dirt, 3yo fillies, 5.20pm ET
The divisional leader returns to reinforce her position at the top of the tree, but Pretty Mischievous (2-1) does not have a straightforward task as she bids for a fourth successive G1 victory in a complex edition of the Cotillion.
It is an impressive formline, headed by her gallant score in the 2023 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs over a mile-eighth, when she committed early and held on gamely by a neck. Since then she has cut back, taking the 2023 Acorn Stakes over a mile-sixteenth at Belmont Park by a head, and then being gifted the 2023 Test Stakes over seven furlongs at Saratoga when Maple Leaf Mel met with tragedy.
Now she stretches back out, which looks the right choice, and sets a high standard for a raft of talented fillies to try to match.
Top of the chasing pack is Defining Purpose (4-1), upset winner of the 2023 G1 Ashland at Keeneland before drifting in seventh behind Pretty Mischievous in the Kentucky Oaks. Last time out she probably found the ten furlongs of the 2023 G1 Alabama at Saratoga too far, close up early, fading late, and this cutback will suit a filly who has the class to figure.
Occult (6-1) was four lengths back when third behind Pretty Mischievous in the Acorn, but looked a different beast entirely next time when thrashing her rivals in the 2023 G3 Monmouth Oaks over a mile-sixteenth, drawing right off to beat Foggy Night (12-1) by more than ten lengths.
This is the logical next step and she could be on a roll, and Parx specialist Foggy Night made that performance look even better when taking a stakes here over the extended mile next time, with Majestic Creed (30-1) two and three-quarter lengths back in third.
Ceiling Crusher (5-1) comes from the west coast with a five-for-six count and a recent romp in the 2023 G3 Torrey Pines over a mile at Del Mar, when she rolled gate-to-wire to score by six. The extra yardage is within her reach and she could be a fair way from her own ceiling.
The soapdish-sized circuit at Charles Town does not suit every horse, and Imonra (10-1) and Hoosier Philly (6-1) can be forgiven their poor performance in the 2023 G3 CT Oaks last time. Imonra had previously been runner-up in the 2023 G3 Iowa Oaks and should not be ignored, but Hoosier Philly is harder to get a fix on.
A brilliant two-year-old but then lacklustre on the Kentucky Oaks trail, Hoosier Philly was allowed a soft lead when cruising in a stakes at Ellis Park over a mile in June. She is not as good as that defeat of G1 winner Wet Paint suggests, but if she gets loose on the lead again she will figure.
2023 Cotillion Stakes Odds
|Horse||Jockey||Horse Racing Odds by Jazzsports|
|Foggy Night||Florent Geroux||+1200|
|Ceiling Crusher||Edwin A. Maldonado||+500|
|Pretty Mischievous||Tyler Gaffalione||+200|
|Hoosier Philly||John R. Velazquez||+600|
|Occult||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||+600|
|Just Katherine||Junior Alvarado||+1200|
|Defining Purpose||Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr||+400|
|Majestic Creed||Mychel J. Sanchez||+3000|
Pretty Mischievous brings the G1 class but OCCULT was mighty impressive when hosing a G3 field last time, and she can improve past the favourite.
Check out the 2023 Cotillion Stakes & Pennsylvania Derby Recap
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