For a summer race that plays second fiddle to the Travers Stakes (gr. I), the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) sure knows how to draw a nice field--and a large one at that.
Post positions for the 27th running of Pennsylvania's most prestigious Thoroughbred race were drawn Sept. 2, and racing officials at Philly Park couldn't have been happier. A record 14 horses were entered into the $750,000 Derby, which will be held Sept. 5.
Entered in the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year olds is a pair of horses trained by Nick Zito, who will be looking to capture his first Pennsylvania Derby. Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) winner Sun King drew outside post position 14, while stablemate Indy Storm will start from post 10.
"If everything played out perfectly, we would have had Afleet Alex here and that would have shrunk our field a little," Philadelphia Park director of racing Sal Sinatra Jr. said. "That didn't happen, but we still have a great field. Having trainers like Nick Zito and Steve Asmussen really helps the rest of the card, too. Each of them has horses in our other two big races. It should be a great day of racing."
The other features Sept. 5 are the $100,000 Pennsylvania Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, and the $75,000 Steve Van Buren Handicap for fillies and mares. Trainers Bill Mott (Ebony Breeze) and Todd Pletcher (River Belle) could join Asmussen (Tamwheel) in the Van Buren as well.
Asmussen will bring Real Dandy to the Pennsylvania Derby. The winner of the West Virginia Derby (gr. III) in his last start drew post 13 and was installed as the morning-line second choice at 9-2. Sun King, who will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, and Indy Storm are the favorites at 2-1.
The other graded stakes winner in the field is Southern Africa. The winner of the Lone Star Derby (gr. III) will start from post nine for trainer Michael Puhich and was slotted at 10-1.
Though Afleet Alex wasn't able to join the Derby field, owner Cash is King Stable has entered Golden Rainbow, a 10-length winner of an allowance race at Delaware Park Aug. 20. Jeremy Rose will ride for trainer Tim Ritchey. Golden Rainbow was installed at 6-1 and will begin from post 11.
Joe Bravo, winner of two editions of the Pennsylania Derby, has recovered from his injuries in time to get the mount on Network, winner of four consecutive races.
Post time for the Derby is set for 5:05 p.m. EST. Here's the field, in post-position order with jockeys and morning-line odds:
1 Quadrant, Robby Alborado, 10-1
2 Quiet Money, Victor Molina, 20-1
3 United, Anthony Black, 15-1
4 Anthony J., Jose Velez Jr., 20
5 Smokescreen, Mike Luzzi, 12-1
6 Network, Joe Bravo, 8-1
7 Tani Maru, Harry Vega, 10-1
8 It's Time To Smile, Scott Speith, 20-1
9 Southern Africa, Tyler Baze, 10-1
10 Indy Storm, Noberto Arroyo, 2-1
11 Golden Rainbow, Jeremy Rose, 6-1
12 Letterman's Humor, (To be announced), 20-1
13 Real Dandy, Mark Guidry, 9-2
14 Sun King, Rafael Bejarano, 2-1