Increase purses and they will come.
That was proven Aug. 31, as 11 horses, many of them high-profile, were entered in the 28th running of the $1-million Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II).
The signature event at Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack returns Sept. 3 after a one-year hiatus while the grandstand was prepared for slot machines. At its last running in 2005, the Pennsylvania Derby had a $750,000 purse. This will be the first $1-million event not only at Philly Park, but in the Commonwealth’s history.
Headlining the field are six former Triple Crown starters, including a pair saddled by the nation’s leading trainer, Todd Pletcher. Those two colts, Sam P. and Cowtown Cat, ran in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), as did Zanjero, Bwana Bull, and Imawildandcrazyguy. Another Pennsylvania Derby entry, Xchanger, was in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) field.
Also set to run are a pair of talented New Jersey shippers, Cable Boy and Get Serious, both trained by Patrick McBurney.
Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) and Lone Star Derby (gr. III) winner Slew’s Tizzy is also entered, as are Moyer’s Pond and Timber Reserve.
Zanjero and Bwana Bull might be the two most talented colts in the 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-olds. The pair battled down the stretch in the Aug. 4 West Virginia Derby (gr. III), with Zanjero winning by a nose. A son of Cherokee Run--Checkered Flag, Zanjero is 3-for-11 lifetime and has placed in six graded stakes. The 3-1 morning-line favorite is owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and trained by Steve Asmussen.
Bwana Bull, a Holy Bull--Shahalo colt, has won four of 11 career starts, including a pair of graded stakes. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, he will get jockey Eddie Castro and will be one of five starters to carry a race-high 122 pounds.
Cowtown Cat won a pair of graded stakes leading up to the Kentucky Derby, but has not placed in his last three tries. Most recently, the son of Distorted Humor --Tom’s Cat ran fourth in Jim Dandy (gr. II). Ramon Dominguez will ride for WinStar Farms.
Sam P. has also been off his game for a while, as he is winless this year in six starts.
The early speed should come from Cable Boy and Timber Reserve. Cable Boy won three straight races at Monmouth Park this year in front-running fashion before finishing fifth in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I). On May 26, the son of Jump Start-Milee Van set the mile and 70 yards track record (1:38.78) in an allowance victory.
The Philly Park Labor Day program will also offer the $200,000 Turf Monster Handicap, a five-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-olds and up.
$1 Million Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II, Race 10, 5:35 p.m.), Three-Year-Olds, 1 1/8-Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Sam P. (KY), 114, Rene R. Douglas
2. Bwana Bull (KY), 122, Eddie Castro
3. Get Serious (NY), 114, Charles C. Lopez
4. Timber Reserve (KY), 114, Javier Castellano
5. Slew's Tizzy (KY), 122, Robby Albarado
6. Moyer's Pond (KY), 114, Calvin H. Borel
7. Xchanger (FL), 122, Luis Garcia
8. Zanjero (KY), 122, Shaun Bridgmohan
9. Cable Boy (KY), 114, Jose A. Velez, Jr.
10. Cowtown Cat (KY), 122, Ramon A. Dominguez
11. Imawildandcrazyguy (FL), 114, Manoel R. Cruz