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Pennsylvania Derby

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 9/17/2014 9:45:57 PM

An intriguing field of 8 will see the starter Saturday at Parx Racing when the Pennsylvania Derby is renewed and the most exciting sophomore of the season will return to action, as handicappers will get to evaluate California Chrome once again.

Smarten won the first Pennsylvania Derby in 1979 and since it has been treated to victories by stars like Broad Brush, Dixieland Band, Summer Squall, Macho Uno, and Harlan’s Holiday. Last year Will Take Charge, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, parlayed a nose win in the Travers to a 2 and a quarter-length score in the Pennsylvania Derby while earning a 105 Beyer Speed Figure.


A Longshot With Some Value: Candy Boy

Candy Boy is at the mercy of the way the race sets up and if he can get running room late. The racer has always flashed a nice turn of late foot and he will be rolling hard at crunch time.

The Pick: Protonico

California Chrome has been freshened since being thwarted in his Triple Crown bid. The brilliant colt is repeatedly proven off the layoff, has trained forwardly for this and considering the eventful trip in the Belmont Stakes, he was beaten less than 2 lengths. His tactical speed will give him first run on the deep closers and he is still king of the hill until knocked off the mountain.

Candy Boy is coming off a career top Beyer Speed Figure of 101 when he was beaten a nose in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby by today’s rival Tapiture. He ran well in his prior effort to be second to the juvenile champ Shared Belief. This soph needs help up front but there is some semblance of speed in the field and she should be moving late.

Protonico has run three solid races this year and won his last race despite fact he was blocked before finding room late. In his July finale he was only beaten a head and the winner of that race returned next out to win the Travers Stakes. He is versatile, game, capable of showing clever speed and he is coming to this Grade 1 million-dollar race right.

Bayern basically has one way to go and that is to the front and then try to improve on his position. His signature move is to open up a few lengths at the top of the lane and make them come catch him. He is best when allowed a comfortable lead with moderate splits. If he gets that kind of scenario, he just may get brave.

Noble Moon could be a bit on the fragile side as his races have been spaced out. His only win against winners came on the inner strip at Aqueduct in January. He also was losing ground late in the other try at this distance. Value should be there but he will likely need the race of his life to reach the winner’s circle.

Classic Giacnroll put 2 wins together in September of last year at this track but has blanked since. Only beaten a half-length last time by today’s rival Protonico but he is dependant on a hot pace and clear sailing late. Racer has the home-court thing going on but that is his lone true positive.


Tapiture has only run one poor effort in his career and that was the Kentucky Derby. He was flattered in his win last time as the show horse returned to take the Grade 2 Super Derby next out. Proven at these 9 furlongs, he has a nice turn of late foot and should be picking them up and laying them down in the stretch.

C J’s Awesome took time to figure it out but the light has gone one now. He graduated going longer to this distance is of no concern and he won his last race in facile fashion in an entry-level allowance spot. He has never been beaten to the first call so look for rider Edgar Prado to push Bayern every step of the way. He is far too sharp to ignore.

California Chrome is the horse to beat for sure but if you are going to beat him, this seems like the spot to take a shot. Take Protonico to stalk, pounce and upset.

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