A long season of 3-year-old racing will basically come to an end Saturday with the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing. While the defection of Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Medina Spirit took away some of the race’s luster, in Hot Rod Charlie and Midnight Bourbon the Pennsylvania Derby still boasts two of the year’s best and fastest 3-year-olds who figure to put on a lively battle from start to finish.
Given the quality of the field, the Pennsylvania Derby also could wind up being an integral steppingstone to the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 6 at Del Mar.
1. Fulsome (12-1): He’s stepping up into the big leagues after dominating in the minors, winning rich Grade 3 races such as the Smarty Jones and Matt Winn Stakes. He’s never faced competition this tough before, but at least he has a late-running style that could make him a major factor in the final yards.
JOCKEY: Florent Geroux; TRAINER: Brad Cox
2. Keepmeinmind (8-1): He’s only won one of 11 starts, but he’s banged heads with the stars of the division throughout the year. He was good enough to finish second to Essential Quality in the Jim Dandy Stakes two starts ago and maybe the 1 ¼ miles of the Runhappy Travers Stakes last time out was a tad long for him. Having Medina Spirit in the field to add spice to the pace would have helped his cause considerably, but he still figures to have a quick pace to chase.
JOCKEY: Joel Rosario; TRAINER: Robertino Diodoro
3. Speaker’s Corner (12-1): He posted a lopsided victory in a seven-furlong sprint at Saratoga Race Course and seems to have considerable talent. The lack of seasoning around two turns is a concern but he appears to have the pedigree to handle it. He’s definitely worth a look here.
JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz; TRAINER: Bill Mott
4. Weyburn (12-1): Figures to be part of the early pace, which could be problematic given he’ll have to take on Hot Rod Charlie and Midnight Bourbon. He’s done his best racing at 1 1/16 miles or less, so the distance also could be challenging for him.
JOCKEY: Paco Lopez; TRAINER: Jimmy Jerkens
5. I Am Redeemed (20-1): It would be a great story if a Pennsylvania-bred could win this race, but this seems like too tough of an edition of the stakes for that to happen. On the plus side, he has enjoyed considerable success on this surface.
JOCKEY: Abner Adorno; TRAINER: Penny Pearce
6. Bourbonic (12-1): His stock also went down when Medina Spirit was scratched, taking some of the starch out of the projected pace scenario. He should be closing at the end, but two losses in a pair of Grade 1 stakes by more than 31 lengths weaken his appeal.
JOCKEY: Kendrick Carmouche; TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
7. Hot Rod Charlie (5-2): He’s been a gem of consistency. He lost by a length in the Kentucky Derby and 1 1/4 lengths in the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets. He crossed the finish line first in the TVG.com Haskell Stakes, but was disqualified and placed last for drifting in and causing Midnight Bourbon to stumble and lose his rider. The DQ was justified, but it probably didn’t affect the outcome as Midnight Bourbon seemed to be tiring at that point. To understand the quality of the top 3-year-olds, it was 18 lengths back to the third horse in the Haskell and 11 ¼ lengths back to the show horse in the Belmont. He’s a bit more tractable than Midnight Bourbon and looks like the one to beat,
JOCKEY: Flavien Prat; TRAINER: Doug O’Neill
8. Midnight Bourbon (5-1): He’s also been highly consistent with the exception of the Kentucky Derby, when he was bumped and lost ground at the start, and the Haskell. Seconds in the Preakness Stakes and Travers bespeak his quality and he should be the main rival here.
JOCKEY: Ricardo Santana Jr.; TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
9. Medina Spirit (SCRATCHED)
10. Americanrevolution (15-1): He’s dominated New York State-bred competition and will be tested for class here. He should be able to sit just off the pace, but breaking from the outside post could lead to the kind of ground loss that can prove costly against such a tough field.
JOCKEY: Luis Saez; TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
THE PICK: Hot Rod Charlie
LIVE LONGSHOT: Fulsome