Heavily favored Pure Sensation broke on top and proceeded to dominate a quality field of turf sprinters, winning the Grade 3 $200,000 Parx Dash Saturday afternoon at Parx Racing. Having already won three Turf Monster Handicaps and two previous running’s of the Parx Dash, the win gave him the most graded wins, six, in history over the local course, eclipsing the mark of legendary turf sprinter Ben’s Cat.
Breaking from post seven in the ten horse field under winning jockey Paco Lopez, Pure Sensation was the first to show and immediately sprinted to the lead. He had company through the opening quarter mile as last year’s Parx Dash winner Vision Perfect was pressing him from the outside. The two turned as opening quarter in :22.18 over a course listed as yielding as overnight and early afternoon rains softened the going. Longshot Smokin Nitro sat a close third while running three wide down the backstretch.
Rounding the far turn, Vision Perfect took his shot, coming up to almost be on even terms with Pure Sensation while Smokin Nitro gained three wide to make it three across the track as the trio came to the quarter pole. Coming off the turn, however, the race was suddenly over. Pure Sensation suddenly spurted away to a clear two length lead while his rivals struggled to keep up and now inside the final furlong, the 8 year-old gelded son of Zensational simply continued to pour it on. At the sixteenth pole he had a six length lead and jockey Lopez decided enough was enough. He geared down Pure Sensation and came coasting under the wire as much the best. While the final margin of victory stands at four and a quarter lengths, the margin does not do justice to the magnificence that was this performance.
Trained by Christophe Clement and sent off as the 6-5 betting favorite, Pure Sensation paid $4.60, 3.20 and 2.40. Rocket Heat (8-1) a terrific speedster that many expected to set the pace, was fourth after the first furlong and stayed on well enough to be second, returning 7.40 and 5.20. Smokin Nitro (16-1) acquitted himself well in his turf stakes debut, challenging for the lead near the top of the stretch and holding on for third, paying 7.60 to show. The final time for the five furlongs over the yielding turf was 1:00.42.
Under a perfect ride from local jockey Frankie Pennington, Notapradaprice held off a stiff late challenge from the heavily favored Fifty Five to score a 25-1 upset victory in the $200,000 Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial Tuesday afternoon at Parx Racing. In just the first stakes appearance in her career, the five year-old daughter of Paddy O’Prado became a graded winner and pushed her career earnings to just over $452,000.
On paper, Fifty Five, racing out of the powerhouse Chad Brown stable, appeared to have significant edge in both class and numbers. But of course, races aren’t won on paper. Without much speed in the race, Pennington smartly got Notapradaprice into the race early, sitting just off of the outside flank of front running Play Me a Memory. Meanwhile, Javier Castellano was content to take Fifty Five toward the rear of the six horse field, sitting fifth through the opening stages. Having run a quarter in 25.31 and an opening half of 50.28, the tempo decidedly began to pick up as the race moved to the far turn. Having established perfect early position, Pennington got first run on the leader with Notapradaprice and got the lead with just less than three furlongs to run. With the small field beginning to bunch up, Castellano was forced to go four wide around the far turn and was even fanned a little wider coming off the final turn.
Now straightening away, the full out sprint to the wire began. Notapradaprice was in front coming into the final furlong, but Fifty Five had her dead in her sights and looked like the likely winner as the two came to the final sixteenth. Pennington and Notapradaprice, however, would have none of it. Notapradaprice dug in valiantly and simply would not let Fifty Five get by. These turf races that so often come down to a nose, a head or a neck at the wire was actually not that close today, the final margin going into the books as a full half a length.
Sent off as the second longest price at 25-1, Notapradaprice, owned by Main Line Racing Stables and trained by John Servis paid $52.00, 10.20 and 8.00. Fifty Five, the prohibitive choice at 2-5, lost for the first time in her last five starts, and paid 2.10 and 2.10. More Fun Again (22-1) sat back early and out finished the others for third and paid 11.00 to show. The final time for the one mile and one-sixteenth over a firm turf course was 1:45.49.
His Royal Majesty rallied from far behind, caught the leaders in mid-stretch and then powered away to a convincing three length victory in the $75,000 Turning for Home Stakes Saturday afternoon at Parx. Now celebrating its 11th anniversary, the race was the centerpiece of an afternoon dedicated to the Turning for Home program, the racing industries leader in finding and providing new homes and new careers, having now placed nearly 2,700 retired thoroughbred race horses.
Taken far back by winning jockey Frankie Pennington, His Royal Majesty turned into the backstretch with only one horse beaten and almost fourteen lengths off pace setter, Dirt in Your Face. With a solid pace to run at, an opening quarter of 23.54 and a half in 47.47, the five year-old gelded son of Mutadda began to quicken with about a half mile to go. Sweeping past horses while running five wide around the entire far turn, he moved within striking range coming to the quarter pole. His rally never stalled. He continued his terrific rally on the far outside, blew past the leaders just outside the sixteenth pole and then pulled away to win by three widening lengths. Claimed in December for $12,500 by Morris Kernan, Jr. & M-Z Racing Partnership and trained by Marcos Zulueta, he went off as a 16-1 longshot and paid $34.60 win, covering the mile and a sixteenth in 1:46.71.
Newtown Anner Stud’s Chilly in Charge proved much the best in winning the $100,000 Crowd Pleaser Stakes for PA-bred three year-olds. Originally carded for the turf, it was moved to the main track after heavy rains here this week. Ridden by Angel Rodriguez, Chilly in Charge sat just off the two front runners for the first three-quarters of a mile before taking command on the far turn. Opening up a clear lead turning for home, the Take Charge Indy colt left his six rivals far behind, widening his lead through the final quarter mile and rolling home an eye catching twelve lengths in front. Trained by Miguel Vera, he went off as the 4-5 favorite and paid $3.80 to win. He ran the one mile and one-sixteenth over a fast track in 1:47.51.
The $100,000 Power by Far Stakes, a five furlong sprint for PA-bred fillies and mares also came off the turf. Lyno Maraspin’s Wildcat Combat sat a great trip in behind dueling front runners Captain Sam and The Circle Game before angling out for a clear path coming into the stretch. In the middle of the racetrack, the five year-old Messner mare charged to the lead with about a sixteenth to go and then held off the late bid of Afleet Tizzy to win by a length. Ridden by Dexter Haddock and trained by Miguel Penaloza, she went off at 7-1 and paid $17.80 to win. Her final time for the five-eighths was :58.72.