Pure Sensation Wins Seventh Graded Stake at Parx

Parx Racing put on a big show for its annual Labor Day program. In addition to a racing card that featured seven stakes, the beloved Smarty Jones made his first appearance at his home track in 15 years, thrilling a crowd that filled the apron and cheered him at every turn. Topping the racing were two of the track’s graded races, the G3 $300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for three year-olds and the G3 $300,000 Turf Monster Handicap, a five furlong turf sprint,

The big race of the day, the Smarty Jones Stakes, did not disappoint. Local colt Spun to Run took enough money to be slightly favored as the gate opened with Gray Magician a close second choice. Getting a great inside trip behind the two leaders, Spun to Run waited until it was time to do the real running at the top of the stretch. Gray Magician was also content to bid his time, sitting a close fourth throughout, in the clear on the outside. As the two leaders began to falter passing the quarter pole, Spun to Run made his move between the two of them while Gray Magician was making a tremendous run, coming three wide off the final turn. With the surge and the momentum, it looked like Gray Magician was just going to roll right by and start to open up. Spun to Run, however, had other thoughts. With an eighth to run, Gray Magician had a neck in front, but on the inside, Spun to Run dug in tenaciously and fought back. Back on even terms in mid-stretch, the two battled nose to nose coming down to the wire. Just before the finish, Spun to Run pushed his nose in front, winning the first stake and graded stake of his career in dramatic fashion. Owned by Robert Donaldson and trained by local Carlos Guerrero, the Hard Spun colt went off at 3-2 and paid $5.00 to win. The final time for the one mile and one-sixteenth was 1:44.14.

The accomplishments of turf sprinter Pure Sensation over the local course are hard to overstate. Having won three runnings of the G3 Parx Dash, the 8 year-old gelded son of Zensational was looking to win his fourth edition of the Turf Monster Handicap. He not only captured a record setting seventh graded win of his career here at Parx, he did it style. Sprinting to the early lead from the outside gate in the field of eleven, Pure Sensation got a stiff challenge from Hollywood Talent, the long shot drawing even with him nearing the top of the stretch. That challenge was short lived however, as Pure Sensation turned him away and then began to draw away. Well clear late and geared down at the end, he went on to win by three lengths. Owned by Patricia Generazio, trained by Christophe Clement and ridden by Paco Lopez, he was a prohibitive 3-5 favorite at post time and paid $3.20, covering the five furlongs on a good to firm turf course in 57.80.

Racing against many of the best of her division throughout the spring and summer, Jeltrin used some class relief to post a dominating win in the $150,000 Cathryn Sophia Stakes for three year-old fillies. Having won the G2 Davona Dale this March at Gulfstream, the Tapizar filly had since raced in three G1 races. Getting to the front early under jockey Leonel Reyes, she shook off several early challenges and then rolled away in the stretch to win by nearly eight lengths. Owned and trained by Alexis Delgado, Jeltrin slipped off as the public’s third choice at 5-1 and paid a handsome $12.20 to win. She ran the one mile and seventy yards in 1:44.18.

The track also hosted 4 races on Monday that are part of the MATCH series. The $100,000 Neshaminy Stakes featured a stirring stretch duel between the favored Abiding Star and Paret. Head and head down the lane, pace making Abiding Star would not give in and valiantly held on to win by a short neck. Owned by Stonehedge and trained by Ned Allard with Carol Cedeno aboard, the six year-old gelded son of Uncle Mo went off at 9-5 and paid $5.60. He covered seven and a half furlongs on a firm turf course in 1:29.56.

The $100,000 Bensalem Stakes went to Woodford Racing’s Engage. The four year-old Into Mischief colt sat just off the pace throughout the first half mile and rallied to take the lead with a furlong to go. He then held off the big late charge of Bon Raison to win by a diminishing half length. Ridden by Joe Brave, the Steve Asmussen trainee went off at 9-2, paid $11.20 to win and finished the six furlongs in 1:11.48.

Lael Stable’s Chalon charged through a tiny opening near the rail turning for home, overtook leader Bronx Beauty outside the eighth pole and then drew clear to win the $100,000 Roamin Rachel Stakes by a length and a half. Trained by Arnaud Delacour, the five year-old Dialed In mare was courageously guided to victory by Paco Lopez. Bet down to 4-5, she paid $3.80 to win and went the six furlongs in 1:11.90.

Under a crafty ride by jockey Chris DeCarlo, Ballybrit Stable’s Dynatail went wire to wire to win the $100,000 Sal DeBunda PTHA President’s Cup. Leading most of the way with soft fractions. Dynatail lost the lead to Notapradaprice with a little more than an eighth to go, falling back by almost a half-length, but then gamely fought back to reclaim the lead late and win by a hard fought neck. Trained by Mike Dini, the five year-old Hightail mare went off at 10-1 and paid $23.60 to win. She finished the one mile and one-sixteenth on the grass in 1:41.93.

PA Derby Updates – Barn Notes – Maximum Security

It’s going to be an early day for Maximum Security on Friday.

The horse, who was the first winner in the 145-year history of the Kentucky Derby to be disqualified from first because of an incident during the race, is scheduled to be on track at Parx on Friday morning. But he won’t be in town long.

Trainer Jason Servis said Sunday that his plan is to ship Maximum Security to Parx on Friday, work the horse over the track, put him back on the van and head back to Monmouth. Servis said it takes an hour and 15 minutes to get from Monmouth to Parx.

Servis said he will ship the horse at 4:30 in the morning, get him on track by 6:30 a.m. and then have him home at Monmouth in time for breakfast at 10:30.

“We will then ship back down in nine or 10 days after that to breeze him again,” Servis said Sunday outside his barn at Saratoga. “Then, we’ll either stay there or go back to Monmouth.”

Maximum Security hasn’t run since winning the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on July 20. After that race, Servis wanted to run in the Travers at Saratoga, but the effort in the Haskell knocked his horse out for a while.

Temperatures were in the high 90s and the heat index was over 100 the day of the Haskell. Officials at Monmouth were forced to delay the race several hours until the temperatures cooled off.

“It was tough, a hot day, and he ran hard,” Servis said. “I think he was glad I didn’t run him back in the Travers. I would say he is starting to get some good color to him. We still have to get through some things, but we are looking forward to the race.”

Maximum Security has won five of seven career starts, the only losses coming in the Kentucky Derby and the Pegasus at Monmouth on June 16. Servis said he still gets fan mail addressed to the horse at the barn.

“I think people are really looking forward to see him run again,” Servis said.

—– Tim Wilkin

PA Derby Updates – Barn Notes – WAR OF WILL

Preakness winner War of Will had what trainer Mark Casse called “his big work” before his next race, the Grade I. $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing on Saturday, Sept. 21.

War of Will worked five furlongs on the main track Sunday morning at Saratoga Race Course in a bullet 59.55 seconds. It was the fastest of 24 recorded works at the distance.

“I thought he went well,” Casse said back at the barn after the work. “I was trying to get a little air into him. I wanted to get him tired because we are three weeks out from the race.”

War of Will has raced 12 times in his career and has four wins, a second and a third. This year, he has three wins in seven starts. He hasn’t raced since finishing a disappointing fifth in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 27. After that performance, Casse decided to skip the Travers at Saratoga and point instead to the Pennsylvania Derby.

Casse said the extra time off helped the son of War Front, much like it did after the Louisiana Derby on March 23. In that race, War of Will was never a factor. He finished ninth after having an issue with his hind end coming out of the gate.
The horse did not start again until the Kentucky Derry 42 days later where he finished seventh following the incident that led to the disqualification of Maximum Security.

War of Will will have had 56 days between the Jim Dandy and the Pennsylvania Derby.

“I think everybody would agree he was on his game in the (Kentucky) Derby,” Casse said. “He was just unfortunate. I kind of looked at that when I made the decision (not to run in the Travers). Every horse can throw in a little bit of a clunker. Some days, they just have bad days.”

That’s what Casse is hoping happened in the Jim Dandy. That was the second straight race that War of Will finished off the board; he was ninth in the Belmont after winning the Preakness.

Casse is hopeful that his colt will bounce back in the Pennsylvania Derby. From what he has seen from him this summer, he expects that.

“I don’t see any reason why not,” Casse said. “He looked well. I think he likes the cool weather. When it gets a little cooler, he really picks his head up. Hopefully, the weather will stay fairly cool and we will have a nice, cool day in Pennsylvania.”

War of Will is scheduled to leave Saratoga on Tuesday and ship to Belmont Park, where he will have his final preparations for the Pennsylvania Derby. Casse said that he plans to ship his horse to Parx on the morning of the race.

When War of Will steps on the track at Parx for the race, it will be the first he has ever seen it.

“He has run pretty good everywhere we have taken him, so not really,” Casse said when asked if he was concerned about that. —- Tim Wilkin