Plate Winner Headed for Pennsylvania Derby

(from Woodbine notes)
Chiefswood Stables' Queen's Plate winner Niigon will make his next start in the $750,000 Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) at Philadelphia Park on Labor Day Sept. 6, trainer Eric Coatrieux decided Thursday.

Coatrieux said he had been considering the Travers Stakes (gr. I), the mid-summer classic for 3-year-olds at Saratoga.

"It'll be interesting," Coatrieux said of the Travers. "It's a helluva field, but we'd be in over our heads in there. This is a better spot for (Niigon). I think he can eventually try those big ones later on."

The Pennsylvania Derby is the race Kentucky Derby and Preakness champion Smarty Jones was to have contested before his retirement was announced earlier this month.

Niigon rose to prominence by winning the Queen's Plate at Woodbine on June 27. After A Bit O'Gold stymied his Triple Crown bid in the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie, the son of Unbridled went to Saratoga, where he finished third behind highly-ranked three-year-olds Purge and The Cliff's Edge in the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II).

The Ontario-bred is working forwardly for his start in the 1 1/8-mile main track race, according to Coatrieux.

"He's doing great," he said. "He worked well on Monday, like he always does, and he'll work again this Monday (Aug. 30), then ship on (Sept. 3) for Monday's race. Just as long as he keeps his good training up."
Coatrieux also confirmed Niigon will stay in training as a 4-year-old. "I think he'll improve as he gets older, I think he'll be excellent as a 4-year-old."

Robert Landry, who rode the dark bay colt in his last five starts, including the Plate win, will get the call in the Pennsylvania Derby.

Among the possibles for the race is Tapit and Pollard's Vision.