Pennsylvania Derby & Parx Picks and Preview for Saturday, September 25

    All the Pennsylvania Derby & Parx Picks and Previews you need for Saturday, September 25.


    On Saturday, September 25, Parx Racing features five graded stakes races, including a pair of Grade I races in the Cotillion Stakes and the Pennsylvania Derby. Listen to the podcast where I am joined by Andrew Rdesinski of The Daily Gallop and In the Money Media as we make our Win, Place, and Show predictions. Additionally, play along at StableDuel where you can enter contests for $7, $150, or $500 and win big. How? Download the StableDuel app and then pick 10 horses with your $50,000 fantasy budget from the fields at Parx on Saturday. If your stable comes out on top, you’re a winner! In addition to picking the winners below, I’ll also include the “price” in the StableDuel contest.

    Race 1

    Post time: 12:05 PM ET

    Distance: 6 ½ furlongs

    Type: Maiden Special Weight $80,000 purse 

    Age: 2-years-old (fillies)

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: Love starting off with two-year-olds and this field has a lot to offer. Morning line favorite Morning Matcha (2-1) seems to have a knack for not winning but hitting the board, which is a bad combination if you’re expecting a breakthrough effort. Darling Donna (4-1) is an interesting play given her first effort in the slop and the fact she’s got Paco Lopez aboard who is winning 41% of his mounts at Parx this year. Golden Essence finish second her first time out, but that can be deceiving since she lost by 10-lengths. I’m looking at a pair of 8-1 shots, Alice Harper and Bellita. Alice Harper is making her first career start but has posted some of the best workout figures in the field. Meanwhile, Bellita ran a competitive second her first time out at Parx and will likely improve with more seasoning.

    Win: Darling Donna ($7,000)

    Place: Alice Harper ($3,000)

    Show: Morning Matcha ($9,000)

    Race 2

    Post time: 12:32 PM ET

    Distance: 6 furlongs

    Type: $8,000 Starter Allowance

    Age: 3-years-old and up (filles & mares)

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: Flashing Diamond (9-5) is the morning line favorite for a reason as she’s beaten the next best group of horses in the field the last few times out, but she’s hardly unbeatable. I love the price on Le Petite Papillon (8-1) who struggled last time out, but who has bested Flashing Diamond in the past and will likely run to the lead early and set the pace. Just to drive that point home, she’s hit the board nine out of 10 times she has run at this distance. Bucks Some (6-1) and Love on Fire (5-1) are very similar horses that seem unlikely to win the race but are solid bets to hit the board. I’d pair whichever gave me better odds on trifectas.  

    Win: Le Petite Papillon ($3,000)

    Place: Flashing Diamond ($9,200)

    Show: Bucks Some ($5,000)


    Race 3

    Post time: 12:59 PM ET

    Distance: 7 furlongs

    Type: $8,000 Starter Allowance

    Age: 3-years-old and up 

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: After two races where I wasn’t very keen on the favorite, I’d be shocked if Sevier (4-5) didn’t win this race. He’s head and shoulders above the rest of the field and beat any of the other possible contenders in the field by multiple lengths. The only potential cause for concern is that he’s not run seven-furlongs recently, but he just won at 6 ½ furlongs the last time out by seven lengths. Behind him, I’d look at Federal Case (6-1) as a horse that I think will improve off his last effort. He had some nice showings at Parx earlier this year and then got shipped to Delaware and Monmouth and started running over a mile (terrible idea) and just got back to Parx earlier this month and went back to the sprint format. That race didn’t go the way he wanted, but I think getting back in the routine of sprint racing will help. Geebert (5-1) is a solid horse, but I think may be trending in the wrong direction and had a hideous five-furlong workout recently. For the value, I really like Louie’s Wish (12-1) as a horse that likes to get on the lead and has been winning recently but is taking a slight step back in distance.

    Win: Sevier ($11,000)

    Place: Federal Case ($5,000)

    Show: Louie’s Wish ($750)

    Race 4

    Post time: 1:26 PM ET

    Distance: 7 furlongs

    Type: Maiden Special Weight $80,000 purse 

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: You should find nice value in this field as even the morning line favorite, Motion Picture (9-2) is giving good odds. Speaking of Motion Picture, he’s a horse that’s had some nice recent workouts and should improve on a solid first outing while cutting back in distance and just doing a one-turn race. Bode O (8-1) isn’t going to overwhelm you with his speed figures, but he’s had improving finishes at Parx the last two times out. Meanwhile, I really like Johnny Swish (8-1) who is a first-time starter but has put in great workouts leading up to the race. Additionally, the trainer-jockey connection wins 31% of the time at Parx with a huge sample size. If Flying With Angels (7-2) decides to run (Also Eligible) then he’s a factor but I don’t like him to win either way.

    Win: Johnny Swish ($3,000)

    Place: Motion Picture ($6,500)

    Show: Bode O ($3,000)


    Race 5

    Post time: 1:54 PM ET

    Distance: 7 furlongs

    Type: Maiden Special Weight $80,000 purse

    Age: 2-years-old

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: Gunfighter (2-1) should be the class of the field given his impressive debut outing that resulted in a close second place and a strong Beyer’s Speed Figure. That maiden race took place at Parx, so he’s familiar with the surface and an extra furlong shouldn’t be a problem as he was closing down the stretch. Behind him, I’m not sure what justifies Brindisi (9-2) being the second favorite given his fourth-place finish last time out in which he was bested by seven lengths. Vine Jet (8-1) gives you better value and has hit the board both times out, though it’s possible he prefers the slop given his driving effort in those conditions his first time out. The first-time starter Smarten Up (12-1) is a worthwhile bet on the backend of exotics given his improving workouts at Parx this last summer.  

    Win: Gunfighter ($9,000)

    Place: Vine Jet ($3,000)

    Show: Smarten Up ($750)

    Race 6

    Post time: 2:22 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/16 miles

    Type: Plum Pretty Stakes

    Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies & mares)

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: Chub Wagon (8-5) should win this race by at least five lengths and I’m honestly shocked she’s getting 8-5 odds given how dominant she’s been compared to the rest of the competition in the field. Precious (9-2) and Vault (7-2) may have the ability to put up a fight, but it would have to be their best career effort with Chub Wagon turning in the worst effort of her career. I don’t see that happening. Now, from a value perspective, Marion Francis (6-1) gives you a little bit of value on the backend and ran her best race last time out. I’d likely place her ahead of Vault, in part due to post position and in part due to past performance.

    Win: Chub Wagon ($9,400)

    Place: Precious ($6,500)

    Show: Francis Marion ($5,000)

    Race 7

    Post time: 2:51 PM ET

    Distance: 1 mile

    Type: Parx Dirt Mile Stakes

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: The last time we say Silver State (8-5) he was finishing a distant third behind Knick Go and Maxfield at the Whitney. Since then, he’s turned in strong workouts and perhaps Steve Asmussen thought the Parx Dirt Mile may provide a little class relief, but this is still a strong field. Mind Control (4-1) is a good horse that finished just off the pace at the Forego, a race that will forever be remembered by Firenze Fire savaging Yaupon down the stretch. My concern with Mind Control is distance given he’s most comfortable at seven furlongs and this is a two-turn mile. Meanwhile, I like the value on the local hero Thorny Tale (6-1) who has never finished worse than second at Parx. He likes the distance, has posted competitive speed numbers for the field and has a chance for the upset. On the other end of the spectrum, I’m out on Warrior’s Charge (6-1) who I saw at Charles Town where he turned in a poor performance and I feel like his best days might already be behind him at this level of competition. West Will Power (5-1) is running faster each time out and doesn’t win often but is a good bet to hit the board.

    Win: Thorny Tale ($5,000)

    Place: Silver State ($9,400)

    Show: West Will Power ($6,000)

    Race 8

    Post time: 3:20 PM ET

    Distance: 1 ½ miles

    Type: Greenwood Cup – Grade III

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: We finally get to the graded stakes races on the card and while some claim this will be a very “chalk” and favorite-heavy card, I think there are ample opportunities for value starting with the Greenwood Cup. Far be it for me to question Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, but I have no idea why he entered morning-line favorite Moretti (2-1) in the Grade I Sword Dancer at Saratoga last month. The horse had never turned on turf and promptly turned in the worst performance of his career. I absolutely hate that was his last performance ahead of today and while I know he can handle the distance, I’m just worried that Sword Dancer took something out of him. There are a lot of horses that I question whether they can handle the 1 ½ mile route, but Shoogar Ray Too (8-1) is one horse I know can answer the bell and can finish ahead of Moretti because he’s done it before. Meanwhile, Sea Foam (8-1) is on a two-race winning streak at a 1 1/8 mile distance and has won both of those races with lots of daylight. This is a step up in class, but trainer Michelle Giangiulio has him pointed in the right direction and Joel Rosario should have him on the lead where he can relax and handle the increased distance.

    Win: Shooger Ray Too ($3,000)

    Place: Sea Foam ($3,000)

    Show: Moretti ($9,000)


    Race 9

    Post time: 3:51 PM ET

    Distance: 5 furlongs

    Type: Turf Monster Stakes – Grade III

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Turf

    Overview: The Turf Monster might see a more chalk finish, but it’ll be interesting to see how the horses handle the surf since southeastern Pennsylvania has gotten with tons of rain Thursday and Friday morning, so the surf might be a little soft. There are a fair number of horses in this field that have limited turf experience and given the conditions, I’m leaning toward horses that have tested results on the surface. Caravel (9-5) is the class of the field, despite not boasting the highest Beyer Speed Figure, which goes to Carotari (9-2). Both Carotari and Firecow (7-2) had their best career efforts last time out and I’d expect to see a little regression since both of their plus-100 Beyer Speed efforts were significant jumps from their previous races. Additionally, Firecow has limited turf experience and despite being ridden by Joel Rosario, I’ll look elsewhere on the card. Belgrano (8-1) offers good value as a horse that has been around the block (7-years-old) but has posted some strong speed efforts the last few times out and likes the distance. Ultimately though, I like Caravel to win as this is a horse that is automatic at five furlongs and only gets into trouble when she’s moved off that distance.

    Win: Caravel ($9,200)

    Place: Carotari ($6,500)

    Show: Belgrano ($3,000)

    Race 10

    Post time: 4:22 PM ET

    Distance: 6 furlongs

    Type: Gallant Bob Stakes – Grade II

    Age: 3-years-old

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: Much like when Letruska is running, there are times when it’s just foolish to look to upset the favorite and the Gallant Bob is a great example. Jackie’s Warrior is several lengths better than the rest of the field, so she should be an automatic inclusion in any parlays, Pick 3s, or Pick 5s you might be playing. That said, there is value to be found underneath if you’re playing exacta or trifectas. Beren (6-1) is a horse that is undefeated at the distance and has plenty of winning experiences at Parx. He had one hiccup two races ago but otherwise has won four of his last five outings. Awesome Gerry (8-1) is an intriguing horse who I wouldn’t expect to win, but I like his chances to hit the board as he’s been consistently improving the last three races and has been running against good, not great, competition. Pickin’ Time (10-1) is a similar play, and I could see either of them coming in on the backend of your exotic bets.

    Win: Jackie’s Warrior ($11,000)

    Place: Beren ($5,000)

    Show: Aweome Gerry ($3,000)


    Race 11

    Post time: 5:02 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/16 miles

    Type: Cotillion Stakes – Grade I

    Age: 3-years-old (fillies)

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: The first Grade I race on the card boasts a classy field that has a lot of familiar names if you’ve been following this division at Saratoga over the summer. Morning line favorite Clairiere (9-5) is a fascinating horse in that she’s easily the safest bet to hit the board, but a risky bet to win. She always seems to come up short, even when giving a great effort like she did last time out in the Alabama Stakes. Ultimately, I think the race comes down to trips and with the absence of early speed, Always Carina (9-2) is going to be able to go straight to the lead, unchallenged, and set her own pace and John Velazquez will make sure she’s got plenty in the tank coming home. Obligatory is a horse I wasn’t sure I would like and I’m a little worried about the inside post draw as the rail at Parx has been somewhat dead, but Bill Mott and Jose Ortiz are to be trusted and her last time out at the Test was marred by a poor start. I would toss Maracuja (8-1) because I think she ran the race of her life two races ago and won’t be able to replicate that again for a variety of reasons. Army Wife (3-1) is always right there at the finish, but doesn’t have enough to win, but should be considered on your exotic bets.

    Win: Always Carina ($6,500)

    Place: Clairiere ($9,200)

    Show: Obligatory ($750)

    Race 12

    Post time: 5:49 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/8 miles

    Type: Pennsylvania Derby – Grade I

    Age: 3-years-old

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: Now we come to the headliner of the day. Outside the Triple Crown races, this may be the deepest assembled field of the best dirt three-year-olds. Morning line favorite Hot Rod Charlie (8-5) is coming off a disqualification in the Haskell where he was much the best horse despite clipping heels with Midnight Bourbon (3-1). HRC is a great horse who can run for days as evidence by Doug O’Neill putting him through seven-furlong workouts. However, O’Neill doesn’t have a great track record when his horses come off Lasix (a condition of this race) and I’m a little concerned that HRC and Midnight Bourbon are going to get into a bit of a speed duel on the front end of the race and open it up to kickers. As for Midnight Bourbon, he may be my favorite horse in the 3-year-old division, but he ran a monster race against Essential Quality at the Travers less than a month ago and that race set up for him perfectly. I’m worried that he won’t get that perfect of a ride again and I think the Travers could have taken something out of him. Therefore, I’m looking to some unexpected horses to provide value in this race. Speaker’s Corner (8-1) is a Godolphin-Bill Mott horse that has just been waiting to be unleashed after a 10-month layoff. What did he do after not running for 10 months? Oh, just run a 101 Beyer Speed Figure and win by 5 lengths. Jose Ortiz should have Speaker’s Corner in stalking position all the way around the track and if the speed up front is too much, he’ll be able to pounce. However, I’m going with an even longer shot, Americanrevolution, who boasts a similar profile to Speaker’s Corner in that he’s lightly raced (4 career starts) but keeps getting better and winning with ease at greater distances. I trust his trainer, Todd Pletcher, and his jockey, Luis Saez, to give him the best trip and his pedigree makes me believe he can run for days. This is a step up in class, but I think we’re going to see a few new horses assert themselves in the 3-year-old division heading into the Breeders’ Cup.

    Win: Americanrevolution ($500)

    Place: Hot Rod Charlie ($9,400)

    Show: Speaker’s Corner ($3,000)


    Race 13

    Post time: 6:20 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/16 miles

    Type: Alphabet Soup Handicap

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Turf

    Overview: Depending on the condition of the turf after the rain and the Grade III Turf Monster, there is a chance this gets moved to the main track, but for preview purposes, I’ll assume it stays on the turf. This is an intriguing field that pairs some horses with turf experience at the distance with horses that are accustomed to sprints or horses making the transition to turf for the first time. There are several things to like about Irish Cork (5-1) despite making his first start on turf. He trains at Parx, has had great workouts, can do the distance, and had a solid record on muddy or sloppy dirt surfaces, which is typically a good indication that a horse can run well on turf. He also has incredibly consistent speed figures on dirt, but obviously, we’ll see how that translates to a different surface. Morning line favorite Wait for It (7-2) is only making his second career turf start and while he’s had success against a slightly better caliber of horses, there is nothing to suggest he’s unbeatable. Papal Law (8-1) provides solid value as a horse that is accustomed to the survey and seems to enjoy the distance. Finally, You Must Chill (9-2) is take a step up in class but is coming off a win at 1 1/16 miles on turf, which makes him somewhat of an anomaly in this field and worth including in bets.  

    Win: Irish Cork ($6,000)

    Place: You Must Chill ($6,500)

    Show: Papal Law ($3,000)

    Get all of Matthew’s horse racing coverage by following him on Twitter at @failedtomenace, by subscribing to Amalfi Media’s YouTube channel, and following The Win Place Show podcast.


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