The stage was set for the biggest day of the year at Parx Racing when entries were taken and post positions drawn Sept. 19 for the Cotillion Stakes (gr. I) and Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II), which anchor a five stakes program Sept. 24.
Songbird was a near-unanimous choice as champion 2-year-old filly in 2015, and the flashy filly will be favored to remain unbeaten against five rivals—three of them grade I or grade II winners—in the $1 million Cotillion.
The Pennsylvania Derby looms a pivotal showdown between Nyquist and Exaggerator , the first two finishers in both the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (both gr. I). Exaggerator has since gone on to win the Preakness Stakes and Haskell Invitational (both gr. I).
If both colts start, the purse of the Pennsylvania Derby increases by $250,000 to $1.25 million.
Unbeaten Songbird has continued to dominate her division with six more graded stakes wins this year, capped by smashing scores in the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama Stakes (both gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course that made her a perfect 10 for 10 for Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm and Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
Songbird, who had her final workout at Santa Anita Park on Sunday, was scheduled to arrive on the grounds at Parx at approximately 6:00 p.m. EDT Sept. 19. Set to oppose the prohibitive 1-2 morning-line favorite are the first two finishers from the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I): Cathryn Sophia and Land Over Sea, and Acorn (gr. I) winner Carina Mia; and local runners Disco Rose and Queena Esther.
The 50th running of the Cotillion will be race 10, with post time scheduled for 4:55.
Nyquist won his first eight starts, taking the measure of Exaggerator three times along the way, but the latter turned the tables on that rival in the Preakness and Haskell. After respectively putting in their final workouts over the weekend at San Luis Rey Downs training center and Churchill Downs, they were scheduled to ship to Parx Wednesday.
Nyquist, the 5-2 favorite, and Exaggerator, the 9-2 second choice, have combined to win 12 graded stakes and $8.75 million.
The Pennsylvania Derby attracted a full field of 12—the largest field since a dozen also ran in 2008—including three-time grade II winner Cupid; multiple graded stakes winner Gun Runner; and Awesome Slew, a dominating winner of the grade III Smarty Jones Sept. 5 at Parx.
The 40th Pennsylvania Derby will be race 11, with post time set for 5:45.
The owner and trainer of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes, Haskell and Travers winners are eligible for a $50,000 appearance bonus. Therefore, the connections of Nyquist would receive a total of $100,000, while Exaggerator's connections would receive $200,000 if they start.
Saturday's card also includes the $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-old sprinters, the $150,000 Pennsylvania Derby Champion Stakes, honoring last year's Pa. Derby winner Frosted; and the $100,000 Alphabet Soup Handicap for state-bred turf runners.
Gates open at 10:00 Saturday morning, and first post is 12:25.
Parx Racing, Saturday, September 24, 2016, Race 10
- 1 1/16m
- 3 yo Fillies
- 4:55 PM (local)
|1||1Carina Mia (KY)||Julien R. Leparoux||124||William I. Mott||5/1|
|2||2Cathryn Sophia (MD)||Javier Castellano||124||John C. Servis||5/2|
|3||3Disco Rose (PA)||Edwin Rivera||117||Robert E. Reid, Jr.||20/1|
|4||4Land Over Sea (KY)||Mario Gutierrez||122||Doug F. O'Neill||10/1|
|5||5Songbird (KY)||Mike E. Smith||124||Jerry Hollendorfer||1/2|
|6||6Queena Esther (FL)||Carol Cedeno||117||Juan C. Vazquez||30/1|
Parx Racing, Saturday, September 24, 2016, Race 11
- 1 1/8m
- 3 yo
- 5:45 PM (local)
|1||1Awesome Slew (FL)||Paco Lopez||122||Edward Plesa, Jr.||10/1|
|2||2Exaggerator (KY)||Kent J. Desormeaux||124||J. Keith Desormeaux||9/2|
|3||3Summer Revolution (KY)||Mike E. Smith||117||Rudy R. Rodriguez||8/1|
|4||4Connect (KY)||Javier Castellano||119||Chad C. Brown||12/1|
|5||5Cupid (KY)||Rafael Bejarano||122||Bob Baffert||5/1|
|6||6Wild About Deb (KY)||Tiago Josue Pereira||117||Ramon Preciado||20/1|
|7||7Gun Runner (KY)||Florent Geroux||122||Steven M. Asmussen||6/1|
|8||8My Man Sam (KY)||Julien R. Leparoux||117||Chad C. Brown||20/1|
|9||9Nyquist (KY)||Mario Gutierrez||124||Doug F. O'Neill||5/2|
|10||10Sunny Ridge (NJ)||Joe Bravo||122||Jason Servis||12/1|
|11||11Discreet Lover (FL)||Jose Luis Flores||117||Uriah St. Lewis||30/1|
|12||12Hit It Once More (NY)||Kendrick Carmouche||119||Gary Sciacca||20/1|