By Anthony Affrunti
Bensalem, Pa. – Street Band circled a field of one of the strongest groupings of 3-year-old fillies assembled in 2019 to win Saturday’s $1 million Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing, earning Sophie Doyle her first Grade 1 victory and securing an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
The Larry Jones-trained Street Band, making her seventh start this year and sent off at 7-1 in the field of 11, tracked the field from the back of the pack early while Jaywalk set a quick opening quarter-mile in :22.75. The field progressed through a half in :46.27 and 6 furlongs in 1:11.19 as Bellafina took command.
“I was very glad to hear (Parx announcer Keith Jones) say ‘very fast quarter’ because we were way back,” Jones said. “We knew there was a lot of speed in here and I was waiting to see those fractions and he called it. By the time I could locate her he already said ‘very fast’ so I said, ‘ok, we’re still alive.’
“When she was moving that strong, and I know Sophie doesn’t ask that hard that early, when she was going by horses that fast I thought that when we were heading for home, we were going to be close.”
Turning for home Street Band was under a strong drive from Doyle with Guarana to her inside. Street Band took the lead in deep stretch by a head after a mile in 1:37.44, holding off Guarana by 2 1/4 lengths at the finish. Horologist, off her victory in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks, finished third 3 3/4 lengths back. Bellafina faded to fourth. Street Band won in 1:44.20 for the 1 1/16 miles.
“I was feeling good right here (into the stretch),” said Jones. “When she was going by horses, she was running. We knew there was a lot of speed and we could let her run the whole way without taking her back. When I saw her come by last, I felt, ‘Boy, Sophie, you took her back pretty good.’ She had been relaxing in her works, it has been something we had been trying to do. Sophie told me she thought we had her where we wanted her. And I told her, if she doesn’t win, it’s her fault!”
Doyle, the former top female apprentice rider in her native England in 2010, moved her tack to the U.S. in 2011. She couldn’t contain her enthusiasm for her breakthrough win and the filly’s trip.
“Honestly my trip, I had to go to Plan B and C,” Doyle said. “She was a little worked up in the post parade. When she broke away from the gate I said, ‘you know what, there’s so much speed in here, I’m not going to rush her off her feet.’ I let her carry me into the race. I let her creep into the race in her own time.
“When we were coming around the home turn I was like, ‘come on girl, let’s get into it.’ She really exploded for me. She gave me everything she’s got. She never gave up. She’s so tough. What an amazing filly. She’s come out here today and really proved how good she is. She deserves to be at these Grade 1 races. My first Grade 1. I’m absolutely over the moon. It’s fantastic. What an amazing opportunity. Fingers crossed now to the big one and the Breeders’ Cup.”
Doyle became the third female to win the Cotillion since its inception in 1969, after Andrea Seefeldt won in 1992 with Star Minister and Rosie Napravnik piloted Untapable to victory in 2014.
The Kentucky-bred Street Band entered off a third in the slop in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes Aug. 17 at Saratoga. The Istan filly split rivals to win the Grade 3 Indiana Oaks at Indiana Grand in her prior race, which followed her seventh in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks May 4 at Churchill Downs.
Guarana, perfect through three career starts after being unraced at 2, won the Grade 1 Acorn by 6 lengths before adding the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks to her resume for trainer Chad Brown.
“She got a pretty good trip,” Brown said. “I thought she was sitting real nice and she was close to a real honest pace. We had everyone where we wanted them. She was just second best. She just won a Grade 1 going two turns so I can’t blame that (the distance). Is she best around one? Probably. I can’t make any excuse. We gave her a little breather since the Coaching Club and maybe she was a little short as well. New track, too. But hats off to the winner. She really ran well. Both fillies did.”
Owned by her trainer, Cindy Jones, Ray Francis, Medallion Racing and MyRaceHorse Stable, Street Band earned her trip to the Nov. 2 Distaff at Santa Anita Park through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series.
By Tim Wilkin
Math Wizard, the second longest shot on the board in Saturday’s $1 million Pennsylvania Derby, pulled off a gigantic upset when he won the Grade 1 stakes by a neck at Parx Racing.
Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. and trained by 32-year-old South Florida-based Saffie Joseph Jr., Math Wizard rallied down the center of the track and shocked the field that included Preakness Stakes winner War of Will, the beaten favorite in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in Improbable and a colt that came in with four straight wins in Mr. Money.
Math Wizard went off at odds of 31-1 and paid $64.20, $12 and $4.80. He did not become the biggest longshot to win the Pennsylvania Derby in its 40-year history. That distinction belongs to Valley Crossing, who won at odds of 78-1 in 1991.
“I’ve got to retire now!” an emotional Joseph said after Math Wizard became his first Grade 1 winner in first Grade 1 start. “I feel blessed. I’m at a loss for words.”
Math Wizard won for the third time in 13 career starts.
Math Wizard hadn’t won since Jan. 31 at Gulfstream, when he scored by 18 3/4 lengths and was claimed for $25,000 out of that race by his current ownership group led by John Fanelli, who calls Parx his home track.
“This is my biggest win ever,” Fanelli said. “I was screaming so loud, I lost my voice.”
Fanelli owns the son of Algorithms along with Collarmele Vitelli Stables LLC, Bassett Stables, Ioannis Zoumas, Wynwood Thoroughbreds and Joseph.
Math Wizard won with a six-wide move into the stretch. He ran down the early pacemakers Mr. Money and War of Will, rallying into slow fractions. The first quarter-mile went in :24.50, the half in :49.60 and 6 furlongs in 1:13.44.
With fractions that slow, it would not seem ideal for a closer.
“To me, what was surprising was that the pace was not fast and that horse came from out of it,” said Mark Casse, the trainer of War of Will.
The final time for the 1 1/8 mile race over a fast track was 1:50.94.
Ortiz picked up the mount Saturday. Florida-based Edgard Zayas was named to ride Math Wizard at entry time, but he was not at Parx Saturday.
“He ran hard,” Ortiz said. “When I turned for home and I opened the reins and he started taking off, I said, ‘I’m going to get there.”
Math Wizard arrived at Parx Thursday with his trainer. The only horse that went off at longer odds in the field was the maiden Shanghai Superfly, who finished last at odds of 90-1. Every other horse in the field went off at single-digit odds.
“We’ve got the horse going the right way,” Joseph, who is from Barbados. “We just got him at the right time.”
Mr. Money, the 8-5 second choice, finished second for trainer Bret Calhoun and jockey Gabriel Saez and War of Will was third for Casse and Tyler Gaffalione.
“Obviously disappointing,” Calhoun said after Mr. Money’s four-race winning streak ended in his first Grade 1 start. “No excuses. We just got outrun. Kind of surprising to be outrun by a horse we beat pretty handily a couple times.”
Mr. Money beat Math Wizard by 11 3/4 lengths in the West Virginia Derby Aug. 3 and by 4 lengths in the Indiana Derby July 13.
Improbable, the 6-5 favorite, got off to a slow start after acting up in the gate and finished fourth, a neck in front of Spun to Run, who was fifth. Improbable also encountered gate problems in the Preakness and he was a non-factor in that race.
“I don’t know why he does it,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said by phone from California. “He doesn’t do it in California. Mike (Smith) said he was really good and then heard a noise and it set him off. It’s just frustrating when you go that far and he pulls that stuff.”
Maximum Security and War of Will, two of the leading players in the drama that unfolded at the Kentucky Derby, will meet for the first time since that controversial race in Saturday’s 40th running of the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing.
A field of seven was entered Monday afternoon for the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby, which highlights a stellar card at Parx that also includes the Grade 1 Cotillion for 3-year-old fillies and five other stakes. The Pennsylvania Derby and $1 million Cotillion will be nationally televised for the first time on NBC from 5-6 p.m. EDT.
Gates open at Parx on Pennsylvania Derby Day at 11 a.m. with the first post set for 12:25 p.m. The Pennsylvania Derby goes as the 11th race on the card with a post time of 5:48 p.m.
“It’s a salty race. It’s pretty tough,” said California-based Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, bidding for his third straight and fourth Pennsylvania Derby overall with 3-1 second choice Improbable. “You’ve got to bring you’re A game. Every Grade 1 is a tough race. We have to ship and everything has to go well. Maximum Security is definitely the horse to beat. You just never know who is going to show up.”
Owned and bred by Gary and Mary West, Maximum Security drew post 7 for the 1 1/8-mile Pennsylvania Derby. He’s listed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday with regular jockey Luis Saez named to ride for trainer Jason Servis.
Maximum Security left from post 7 and crossed the finish 1 3/4 lengths in front in the Kentucky Derby. The son of New Year’s Day wound up disqualified and placed 17th for an alleged interference near the top of the stretch, an incident stewards said involved subsequent eighth-place finisher War of Will. War of Will was placed seventh following the disqualification.
The two went separate ways after the Derby. War of Will won the Preakness Stakes two weeks later before a ninth in the Belmont Stakes and a fifth in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga July 27. Maximum Security didn’t return to the Triple Crown, instead prepping with a second in the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth in mid-June before his victory in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational July 20.
Trainer Mark Casse opted to keep Gary Barber’s War of Will out of the Grade 1 Travers, deciding instead to train the son of War Front up to the Pennsylvania Derby. War of Will prepped for his return at Saratoga and Belmont and comes in off four-straight bullet workouts, including a half-mile in :47.40 last Saturday. Regular jockey Tyler Gaffalione rides the 5-1 fourth choice from post 4.
A Grade 1 winner as a 2-year-old for Baffert and owners WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International and Starlight Racing, Improbable went off as the post-time favorite for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He finished fifth (fourth via the DQ of Maximum Security) and sixth in those races before Baffert gave the son of City Zip a break. Improbable returned from three months off with a victory in the Shared Belief Stakes Aug. 25 at Del Mar.
Hall of Famer Mike Smith, aboard Baffert’s last two Pennsylvania Derby winners McKinzie and West Coast, returns on Improbable Saturday from post 2. Smith breezed Improbable Monday, guiding the colt to through a bullet 5-furlong move in 1:00.20 at Santa Anita Park.
“Mike worked him and we are happy about that,” Baffert said. “I always like to be on the outside if I can, but the draw is over. It’s a short field. He just has to break well, that’s about it.”
Allied Racing Stable’s Mr. Money makes his third straight Derby start in search of his fifth consecutive victory for trainer Bret Calhoun. The winner of the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile and Grade 3 Matt Win at Churchill Downs this spring, Mr. Money won the Grade 3 Indiana Derby and Grade 3 West Virginia Derby this summer. Gabriel Saez rides Mr. Money, the 4-1 third choice, from post 6.
Rounding out the Pennsylvania Derby field are Ohio Derby runner-up Math Wizard (Edgard Zayas, post 1, 8-1), the maiden Shanghai Superfly (Frankie Pennington, post 3, 30-1) and Grade 3 Smarty Jones winner Spun to Run (Paco Lopez, post 5, 8-1).
The Cotillion attracted a field of 11 led by undefeated two-time Grade 1 winner Guarana, last year’s champion 2-year-old filly Jaywalk, Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress and multiple Grade 1 winner Bellafina. The 1 1/16-mile Cotillion goes as the 10th race Saturday.
Owned and bred by Three Chimneys Farm, Guarana blitzed a field of maidens in her debut April 19 at Keeneland before winning back-to-back Grade 1 stakes in the Acorn at Belmont Park and Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga for trainer Chad Brown. The daughter of Ghostzapper breezed five times at Saratoga and twice at Belmont, including a bullet 5 furlongs in 1:00.10 last Saturday, in preparation for the Cotillion.
The full field for the Cotillion, from the rail out, with trainers and jockeys: Serengeti Empress (Tom Amoss, Irad Ortiz Jr.), Afleet Destiny (Uriah St. Lewis, No rider), Street Band (Larry Jones, Sophie Doyle), Jeltrin (Alexis Delgado, Leonel Reyes), Collegeville Girl (Richard Vega, Angel Castillo), Horologist (John Mazza, Luis Saez), She Makes Me Smile (Trevor Gallimore, Wesley Torres), Guarana (Chad Brown, Jose Ortiz), Sweet Sami D (Patrick McBurney, Paco Lopez), Bellafina (Simon Callaghan, Flavien Prat), Jaywalk (John Servis, Joel Rosario).
The long awaited rematch between Maximum Security and War of Will serves as the backdrop for Saturday’s running of the $1 million G1 Pennsylvania Derby. The two principle players in the notorious bumping incident that resulted in the first winner of the Kentucky Derby to ever be disqualified will face each other for the first time since that historic afternoon in Louisville, hoping to settle a score that has festered now for over four months. The two head a field of seven three year-olds that includes the red hot Mr. Money, hoping to spoil the party for either of the two high profile colts. Meanwhile, Three Chimney Farm’s Guarana will look to keep her perfect record in tack against ten rivals, seeking her third straight Grade 1 win, as the headliner in the $1 million G1 Cotillion Stakes.
For a horse that is now a multiple Grade 1 winner, it seems almost inconceivable that he could have been offered for just $16,000 in his career debut, but that is indeed how it all started for Gary and Mary West’s Maximum Security. Making his career debut in a maiden claimer last December at Gulfstream, the New Year’s Day colt roared away to win by nearly 10 lengths and has never looked back. He twice dominated optional claiming foes before his first big test in the G1 Florida Derby on March 30th. Leading every step, he came home a three and a half length winner and went to Churchill Downs as a major player in the Kentucky Derby. Following the now famous incident at the top of the stretch, for 22 tense minutes, he stood as the Kentucky Derby winner. The joy in the Maximum Security camp would be dashed, however, as the Churchill stewards decided to disqualify him for interference and place him 17th. He now comes into the race Saturday off his second Grace 1 win on the year, winning the Haskell at Monmouth Park on July 20th.
Gary Barber’s War of Will was, of course, the colt most directly affected by the actions of Maximum Security in the Derby, and for the first time in four months, their paths will again “collide.” War of Will came into the Derby with a terrific spring resume, having captured both the G3 LeComte and the G2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds before problems at the start resulted in a sub-par performance in the Louisiana Derby. He came back from the Derby with a perfect trip victory under Tyler Gaffalione in the Preakness, making the War Front colt a classic winner for trainer Mark Casse. While the mile and a half Belmont was probably beyond his scope, he also did not run well in his subsequent race, the G2 Jim Dandy on July 27th at Saratoga, running a well beaten fifth behind Tax and Tacitus. Working bullets at Saratoga, he hopes to recapture his spring form Saturday afternoon.
The late blooming colt that may stand in their way is Mr. Money. Out of the Bret Calhoun barn and sporting the colors of Allied Racing Stable, the Goldencents colt comes into the race off four consecutive graded wins, all by daylight. His streak started on Derby Day, winning the G3 Pat Day Mile on the undercard by better than five lengths. He’s followed that with wins in the G3 Matt Winn (by 6 ½), the G3 Indiana Derby (by 2 ½) and the G3 West Virginia Derby (by 6). As a two year-old his connections thought enough of him to send him to the G1 Breeders Cup Juvenile directly off his maiden win, where he performed more than admirably, running a very respectable fourth at 41-1.
The Cotillion is led by the undefeated filly, Guarana. Trained by Chad Brown, the Ghostzapper filly burst on to the scene with an eye catching performance in her career debut, winning a special weight at Keeneland by fourteen and three-quarter lengths. Moving immediately to Grade 1 company, she came right back to win the Acorn at Belmont, this time flashing home six lengths in front. She then made it three for three, holding off Point of Honor, winning by a length in the G1 Coaching Club American Oaks.
A number of accomplished fillies will be looking to hand Guarana her first defeat including last year’s two year-old filly champion and this year’s Kentucky Oaks winner. Trainer John Servis will send out Jaywalk. The Cross Traffic filly finished her 2018 season with wins in the G1 Frizette and the G1 Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies, victories that propelled her to an Eclipse Award. A bit out of sorts after moving to Florida at the start of the year, she flashed her brilliance again after coming back north and winning the G3 Delaware Oaks. She’ll be coming from her own stall at her home track for a trainer that knows how to win big races.
Serengeti Empress wowed everyone last year with a double digit victory in the Ellis Park Debutante and then went to Churchill and won the G2 Pocahontas by an astounding 19 ¾ lengths. Her only subpar effort this year was when she bled in the G2 Fair Grounds Oaks. She’s won the G2 Rachel Alexandra and the G1 Kentucky Oaks and has run second in the G1 Acorn and G1 Test. Her defeat in the Acorn came at the hands of Guarana, but that was a one turn mile and she was hounded through blazing fractions yet still manage to stay on to be a clear second. Trainer Tom Amoss hopes the Alternation filly can land her second Grade 1 win of the year.
A terrific undercard is topped by the $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes, a six furlong sprint for three year-olds. Having been upgraded last fall, it will be run as a Grade 2 race for the first time.
Four other stakes will be contested on the giant Saturday program. State-breds square off in the $100,000 Alphabet Soup on the turf at one mile and one-sixteenth and the $100,000 Plum Pretty Stakes for fillies and mares on the main track at that same distance.
The $150,000 Turf Amazon pits lady sprinters on the grass at five furlongs. Rounding it out is the $150,000 Parx Dirt Mile.
For the first time, the Cotillion and Pennsylvania Derby will be broadcast to a national audience, the races covered by NBC from 5:00 to 6:00PM.
The card on Saturday will have 13 races with a post time of 12:25PM. Gates will open to the public at 11AM. Cotillion post time is scheduled for 5:12PM. PA Derby post time is set for 5:50PM.
Here’s the complete field for the $1 million G1 Pennsylvania Derby
1 – Math Wizard Saffie Joseph, Jr. Edgard Zayas 8-1
2 – Improbable Bob Baffert Mike Smith 3-1
3 – Shanghai Superfly Marcos Zulueta Frankie Pennington 30-1
4 – War of Will Mark Casse Tyler Gaffalione 5-1
5 – Spun to Run Carlos Guerrero Paco Lopez 8-1
6 – Mr. Money Bret Calhoun Gabriel Saez 4-1
7 – Maximum Security Jason Servis Luis Saez 9-5
Here’s the complete field for the $1 million G1 Cotillion Stakes
1 – Serengeti Empress Tom Amoss Irad Ortiz, Jr 7-2
2 – Afleet Destiny Uriah St. Lewis No Rider 30-1
3 – Street Band Larry Jones Sophie Doyle 8-1
4 – Jeltrin Alexis Delgado Leonel Reyes 12-1
5 – Collegeville Girl Richard Vega Angel Castillo 20-1
6 – Horologist John Mazza Luis Saez 15-1
7 – She Makes Me Smile Trevor Gallimore Wesley Torres 50-1
8 – Guarana Chad Brown Jose Ortiz 9-5
9 – Sweet Sami D Patrick McBurney Paco Lopez 20-1
10 – Bellafina Simon Callaghan Flavian Prat 6-1
11– Jaywalk John Servis Joel Rosario 6-1
Here’s the complete field for the G2 Gallant Bob Stakes
1 – War Tocsin Uriah St. Lewis Joe Bravo 20-1
2 – War Bridle Jim Noble Ruben Silvera 20-1
3 – Trophy Chaser Juan Carlos Avila Jose Ortiz 6-1
4 – Strong Will Larry Rivelli Luis Saez 10-1
5 – Bethlehem Road Dee Curry Luis Rodriguez Castro 10-1
6 – Landeskog Doug O’Neill Abel Cedillo 7-2
7 – King Jack Jerry Hollendorfer Joel Rosario 2-1
8 – Get Hammered Larry Rivelli Irad Ortiz, Jr. 12-1
9 – Bulletin Todd Pletcher Mike Smith 4-1