The 37th running of the Grade 2, $1.25 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing drew a full field of 12 but most eyes will be on two of 2016's top 3-year-olds to date – Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and Preakness Stakes winner Exaggerator. They have met five times previously, with Nyquist winning the first three and Exaggerator winning the last two including the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Stakes in July.
Included among the 10 lining up to face the two stalwarts in the division are Grade 2 Indiana Derby and West Virginia Derby winner Cupid, Grade 3 Smarty Jones Stakes winner Awesome Slew, Grade 3 Withers Stakes winner Sunny Ridge and Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes winner Gun Runner.
Top three contenders in preference order:
Summer Revolution is a horse that can post the upset in this year's Pennsylvania Derby. Winner of his first two starts, in July and August and with 102 then 112 Equibase Speed Figures, Summer Revolution tried some of the best 3-year-olds around one turn in the King's Bishop Stakes last month. After an awkward start that saw him 10th of 12, Summer Revolution rushed up to third and stayed there until near the wire when beaten by a nose for third. Stretching out to two turns for the first time, Summer Revolution is bred to handle the distance very well and with the tactical speed shown in his three races to date, the colt is likely to be sitting in third or fourth and in a great spot in the early and middle stages of this race. Mike Smith comes in from California to ride the colt as well as champion Songbird in the Cotillion and considering the 112 figure Summer Revolution earned in his Aug. 6 win is higher than any that race favorites Nyquist or Exaggerator have ever earned, I believe this colt can win the Pennsylvania Derby.
Exaggerator ran so badly in the Travers Stakes last month when 11th of 13 that the effort can be completely ignored. Prior to that, Exaggerator won the Haskell nicely and repeated the 108 figure earned two months earlier when victorious in the Preakness. Although all three of his wins in 2016 have come on sloppy tracks, the colt proved he can win on a fast track last year. With a perfect two-for-two record at this mile and one-eighth trip and likely to get a made-to-order contested early pace owing to the fact that Cupid, Awesome Slew and Hit It Once More will likely all want the lead from the start, Exaggerator would be no surprise racking up his fourth graded stakes win of the year.
Connect won three races in a row from May through July including the Curlin Stakes at this distance with a career-best 106 figure. Similar to Exaggerator, Connect threw in a total clunker in the Travers in his most recent race. Although he led from start to finish in the Curlin, Connect came from off the pace in his other two victories and as such if he can secure a good position off the dueling leaders in the Pennsylvania Derby, he is another colt with a decent probability to post the upset win.
Nyquist is not among the win contenders in this race but I feel I have to lay out my case as to why not, particularly as he is likely to be the betting favorite at post time. After winning the first eight races of his career including the Kentucky Derby with a then-career-best 108 figure, Nyquist has put in two sub-par efforts in a row, both yielding 103 figures. In the Preakness, Nyquist was compromised by a speed horse inside in the early stages that caused his competitive juices to flow, resulting in him having little to offer in the late stages after engaging in a pace battle early. Following that, in the Haskell, Nyquist had even less of an excuse as he battled early on moderate fractions. It appears the long campaign took its toll on the top physical conditioning he had earlier in the year, on his mental attitude, or both. Whatever the reason for the decline, with a full field including other early speed types in the race and having shown no fight in the stretch recently, I will take a stand against him.
The rest of the Pennsylvania Derby field, with their best representative Equibase speed figures are Awesome Slew (116), Cupid (106), Discreet Lover (100), Gun Runner (114), Hit It Once More (107), My Man Sam (103), Sunny Ridge (106) and Wild About Deb (108).
- Posts : 7964
Join date : 2011-04-11
- Posts : 7964
Join date : 2011-04-11
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