The post positions were drawn here at Parx Racing today for Saturday's running of the $1 million Grade II Pennsylvania Derby and the $1 million Grade I Cotillion Stakes. Other than Breeders Cup day, Parx becomes the only track in America to host two $1 million races on the same day. A total of eight three-year olds will face the starter in the nine furlong PA Derby while a select field for four will contest the one mile and one-sixteenth G1 Cotillion. For the second consecutive year, the races will be broadcast live on local television. CBS/CW Philly 57 will pick up coverage of Derby Day from 5-6:30PM and show the day's three major races, the PA Derby, the Cotillion and the $300,000 Gallant Bob Handicap. Chris Lincoln will anchor the broadcast, joined by Caton Bredar, Dick Jerardi, and Bruce Casella.
Alpha, the Derby's morning line favorite at 9-5, drew post 4 and will be ridden by two time Eclipse Award winning jockey Ramon Dominguez. Racing for the internationally famous and powerful Godolphin Stable, the son of Bernardini was outstanding this spring, but has proven even better as we head to the fall season. He opened his 3YO campaign with wins in the $150,000 Count Fleet Stakes and G3 Withers before getting beaten by a neck by the then undefeated Gemologist in the G1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. As so many do, he ran into trouble in the Run for the Roses, but following a 10 week rest has come back a powerhouse. He returned to the races July 28th at Saratoga and led gate to wire in the G2 Jim Dandy and then caught Golden Ticket on the wire to be part of the historic dead heat this year in the G1 Travers. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Alpha has now won better than $1.2 million.
Second choice at 5-2 is Magic City Thoroughbred Partners' Golden Ticket. The Speightstown colt was not on many radar screens prior to his dramatic dead heat in the Travers as a 33-1 long shot. It took him six starts to break his maiden and despite being second to Prospective in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby, hadn't won another race and hadn't raced in almost four months before his giant effort at Saratoga. In his only other stakes appearance he ran fifth on the synthetic surface at Keeneland in the G3 Lexington. Jockey David Cohen, who was onboard in the Travers, gets the assignment again for trainer Ken McPeek.
Completing the Derby field are Csaba (Phil Gleaves), Casual Trick (Nick Zito), Macho Macho (Steve Asmussen), Handsome Mike (Leandro Mora), Stephanoatsee (Graham Motion), and Junebugred (Steve Hobby).
Heading the field for the G1 Cotillion is another Godolphin star from the Kiaran McLaughlin barn, Questing. Expected to be a turf horse early in her career, the Hard Spun filly never found much success on the grass. After the switch was made to the main track this June, she's been untouchable. She led every step in a first level allowance win at Belmont and then went to Saratoga and won the G1 Coaching Club American Oaks by four and a quarter before romping to an improbable nine length score in the G1 Alabama. Ridden by the unheralded Irad Ortiz, Jr., Questing looks to continue her dominance late Saturday afternoon.
Due in large part to Questing's recent form, last year's 2YO filly champion, the undefeated My Miss Aurelia will open as the race's second choice at 8-5. Owned by the high profile Stonestreet Stable & George Bolton, the Smart Strike filly finished her freshman season four for four. Following her maiden breaker last July at Saratoga, she came right back to win the G2 Adirondack in just her second career start and then closed her year with a five and a half length romp in the G1 Frizette and a convincing three length win over Grace Hall in the G1 Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies. After that start last November 4th, she didn't return to the races for trainer Steve Asmussen until this August 8th due to a minor shin injury. After stumbling at the start, she displayed her class and talent by going on to an almost effortless three length win in the $100,000 Mandys Gold Stakes at Saratoga.
Saturday will feature lots of family related activities in the beautiful Picnic Grove. While there will be a plethora of food and beverage specials for the adults, kids can also expect to have a great day. Free pony rides, face painting, and 'moon bounces' to play on will be provided. The ultra popular 'Horse Shoe Decorating' returns as well giving kids a chance to display their creative side in decorating horse shoes collected for the event.
Here's the complete Derby field in post position order:
1 - Stephanoatsee, Graham Motion, Sheldon Russell, 12-1 2 - Casual Trick, Nick Zito, Stewart Elliott, 8-1 3 - Handsome Mike, Leandro Mora, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 20-1 4 - Alpha, Kiaran McLaughlin, Ramon Dominguez, 9-5 5 - Junebugred, Steve Hobby, Alex Cintron, 20-1 6 - Golden Ticket, Ken McPeek, David Cohen, 5-2 7 - Csaba, Philip Gleaves, Rajiv Maragh, 5-1 8 - Macho Macho, Steve Asmussen, Corey Nakatani, 4-1
The Cotillion field:
1 - Moment in Dixie, James Toner, Jose Lezcano, 6-1 2 - Questing, Kiaran McLaughlin, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 1-1 3 - My Miss Aurelia, Steve Asmussen, Corey Nakatani, 8-5 4 - Dixie Strike, Mark Casse, Ramon Dominguez, 4-1