Today is the biggest day of the calendar at Parx Racing in Bensalem, where they run the Grade 1 Cotillion for three-year old fillies and the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby for three-year old colts, the latter race being run as a Grade 1 for the first time.
West Coast, off his Travers win, heads the Derby and to be honest, I can’t make a strong case for anyone to beat him.
Cotillion Stakes – Race 10 – There is a horse that should be a decent-enough price, however, that we want to play in the Cotillion, and that is #10 Salty (5-1). We liked her in both the Kentucky Oaks and Acorn, and she ran well in both spots, only to get beat by today’s rival #9 Abel Tasmen (8-5) in both. Then Abel Tasmen beat her again in the Coaching Club American Oaks, going nine furlongs at Saratoga.
Let’s look at their three meetings, all Abel Tasmen wins.
|Kentucky Oaks||4 Ls||Salty stymied in traffic inside, AT clear run outside|
|Acorn||1 L||Salty went wide while AT scraped the rail|
|CCA Oaks||3.25 Ls||Salty had a very tangled beginning, breaking 3-4 L slow|
While we ultimately think that Salty will be better, and a potential star, going seven furlongs, we do think she can spring the upset today. While Abel Tasmen did beat her by 3 1/4 lengths in the CCA Oaks, Salty lost at least that much ground after a very tangled start, costing her substantial early position. Then last time, she was a decent third in the 10-furlong Alabama behind the runaway winner Elate (running at Belmont in the Beldame next Saturday). The 1.5 furlong turn-back to this 8.5 furlong distance is huge for Salty and will help narrow, if not close, the gap between her and Abel Tasmen.
Pennsylvania Derby – Race 11 – #4 West Coast (8-5) crushed the field in the Travers and his Los Al Derby was very good too. He’s just getting better over the summer and unless #1 Timeline (5-1) can take a major step forward, which is possible, West Coast just towers over this field. Timeline had a rough start in the Haskell and then rushed up to dispute a fast pace, so you can forgive that one, but are his other races good enough? At least Timeline has more room to improve than #5 Irap (3-1), who did run a good second in the Travers.
The horse we don’t want is #8 Irish War Cry (9-2) who tracked the pace in a good spot well off the rail in the Haskell and then just had nothing. He’s recovered from bad races before, but remember, his Derby was better than it looked since he made a very wide move off what was a good inside. The Haskell-Day rail at Monmouth was probably not the place to be and he stalked the pace well off that bad inside.