Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack has moved the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) to late September in an attempt to make it a final prep for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Traditionally held on Labor Day, the Pennsylvania Derby will move to Sept. 25 this year. Philly Park officials said that will put the race six weeks before the Breeders’ Cup, and also move it away from another major 3-year-old test: the Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga in late August.
The $750,000 Cotillion Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies will be held Oct. 2, five weeks before the Breeders’ Cup.
The Smarty Jones Stakes, previously for Pennsylvania-breds, is now a $300,000 open stakes for 3-year-olds. Its Sept. 6 date allows it to serve as a local prep for the Pennsylvania Derby.
Philly Park has scheduled "Pennsylvania's Day at the Races," with four stakes for state-breds, for Sept. 11. Sept. 18, which will feature the $250,000 PTHA President’s Cup, is a day for owners.
In 2009, the Pennsylvania Derby, Cotillion, and Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes were stripped of their grades for last year only after the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association learned drug-testing protocol for graded stakes wasn’t followed. Track officials have said the standards will be followed this year.