Harlan's Holiday Favored in $500,000 Pennsylvania Derby

(From track report)
A field of seven is set for Monday's $500,000 Pennsylvania Derby (gr. III) at Philadelphia Park, with Starlight Stables' Harlan's Holiday installed as the morning line 2-1 favorite.

Harlan's Holiday will break from post five for trainer Todd Pletcher, with Edgar Prado, the leading rider at Saratoga, coming down for the ride. The Florida Derby (gr. I) and Blue Grass (gr. I) winner has not been out since a fourth in the Preakness (gr. I) on May 18. He has been working at Saratoga for his return. His final work was Thursday over the Oklahoma training track when he breezed five furlongs in 1:04.07.

Opening as co-second choices at 5-2 are Nancy Alberts' Magic Weisner and Morton Fink's Wiseman's Ferry. They have drawn the two outside gates with 'Weisner' drawing furthest out.

Magic Weisner continues to impress following his surprising runner-up finish in the Preakness, having since captured the Ohio Derby (gr. II) by catching Wiseman's Ferry late in that nine furlong test, and then running second again to War Emblem in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I). Mike Luzzi rode 'Weisner' in the Haskell, but Richard Migliore, the jock on board for both the Preakness and Ohio Derby, will return to the saddle Monday.

With defections from both City Sharpster and This Guns For Hire, it now appears the lone speed will be Wiseman's Ferry. The speedy Hennessy colt will be looking for his third Derby win of the year, having already taken the Lone Star and West Virginia versions. Jorge Chavez will make the trip down from Saratoga for trainer Niall O'Callaghan.

John and Susan Moore's Iron Deputy got surprising respect in the morning line, opening up at 5-1 despite never having won a graded stake. Following a victory Jan. 5 in the Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct, trainer James Jerkens rested the colt until August 4, when he returned to lose in the Jim Dandy (gr. II) at Saratoga.

He was relatively close to Medaglia D'Oro that day before clipping heels and losing his rider in the stretch. The lightly raced Silver Deputy colt has won 3 of his 5 career starts and in addition to his Count Fleet win, he won the Huntington late last November. Norberto Arroyo, Jr. has been named to ride. He will break from post two.

The appearance of Essence of Dubai marks the first time the Godolphin Stable has been to Philadelphia Park. Opening at 8-1, the Pulpit colt drew the rail. Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor will use local jockey Jose Flores, the regular rider for top trainer Scott Lake's outfit. 'Dubai' won two Graded events in Dubai this spring before coming to the U.S. for the Triple Crown races. Having skipped the Preakness, he was a disappointment in both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont. His last start was a fourth behind Medaglia D'Oro in the Jim Dandy.

Completing the Derby field are Dallas Jordan's Make the Bend (12-1) and Edward Roth's Matzsayo (20-1). Brent Bartram will guide Make the Bend from post three for Daniel Furr while no rider has yet been named on Matzsayo, the only local horse entered this year. The Halo's Image colt is trained by Gaston Sandoval.

The Pennsylvania Derby, which tops a list of four stakes, will be run as the eleventh race on a twelve-race Labor Day program with expected post time at 5:05 p.m.