pa derby day nominations are in

By Dick Jerardi

The Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks winners are nominated to Parx Racing’s signature events on Sept. 23, the Grade I $1 million Pennsylvania Derby and the Grade I $1 million Cotillion. Unless there is a change of heart, Derby winner Mage is not coming, but Oaks winner Pretty Mischievous is coming. She won’t be without competition in the Oaks, nor will the Derby lack competition with stakes winners from coast to coast nominated.

Unfortunately, the big horse, Arcangelo, the leader of the 3-year-old division, was not nominated as the connections have decided to try to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic with just one race in 21 weeks, something that has not yet been done. It is becoming more of a thing in the last few years with Travers winners (and even Travers also-rans) going into the Classic off 10-week layoffs. Only Hall of Famers American Pharoah and Arrogate have been able to pull that off successfully.

In addition to Mage, the 25 Pa. Derby noms include two other Grade I winners – Santa Anita Derby winner Practical Move and Allen Jerkens winner One In Vermillion. Multiple stakes winner Reincarnate is from the barn of Bob Baffert who has owned the Pa Derby with four of the last eight winners (Bayern, West Coast, McKinzie, Taiba). Brad Cox is sending Saudi Crown after hard luck seconds in the Jim Dandy and Dwyer. Smarty Jones winner Il Miracolo is scheduled to run back.

Pretty Mischievous is the most accomplished 3-year-old of either sex with successive Grade I wins in the Ky. Oaks, Acorn, and Test. She has just about clinched the 3-year-old filly championship. But the Cotillion, with 18 noms, will not be a walkover as Grade I Ashland winner Defining Purpose (trainer Kenny McPeek) is nominated, as are Grade I Alabama winner Randomize and Monmouth Oaks winner Occult, both from the Chad Brown barn. Local hero Foggy Night, winner of the Cathryn Sophia (Cotillion prep) as well as the Delaware Oaks, should be a major player for trainer Butch Reid.

The Gallant Bob drew 18 nominations, including some fast national sprinters as well as local star Gordian Knot. The Turf Monster got 37 nominations, including the very talented Big Invasion and Parx Dash winner Nobody Listens. The 18 Greenwood Cup noms include marathon star Next and the last two winners of the race, Magic Michael (2021) from the Jamie Ness barn and Ridin with Biden (2022) from the Reid barn.

The three other stakes on the card drew a combined 70 nominations – Parx Dirt Mile (28), Alphabet Soup (24) and Plum Pretty (18).

Last year’s Pa. Derby card was the best in track history. This one is shaping up to be sensational as well. The Grade I races will be the centerpiece of a two-hour show (430-630) on NBC Sports Philadelphia. Laffit Pincay III will be the host.

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