How I'm playing the Pennsylvania Derby Day Pick 4

Profile Picture:

TwinSpires Staff

September 22nd, 2017

by Scott Shapiro

Parx Racing will be the center of attention on Saturday afternoon as the venue located just outside of Philadelphia has a loaded card that includes two $1 million races.

The Cotillion (G1) for three-year-old fillies and the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) for the boys make up half of a Pick 4 sequence that commences in Race 8 and concludes with the track’s premier race.

Here are my thoughts on each of the four races and how I recommend attacking the sequence:

Race 8

The first leg of the sequence is the $150,000 Pennsylvania Derby Champion Stakes.

I do not have a strong opinion in this race, so I will spread deep and hope to catch a price in what appears to be a relatively wide-open two-turn event at 1 1/16 miles over the main track.

The morning line favorite #3 Matt King Coal can win, but several others appear just as capable as this Linda Rice trainee.

Race 9

The second leg of the Pick 4 is the $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes. The race named for the 1975 champion sprinter drew a solid field of 10 led by the entry of #1 Petrov and #1A Coal Front.

Petrov comes off a career best 103 Brisnet Speed Rating in an allowance event at Saratoga where he was the recipient of a perfect trip against lesser and drew away late to a dominant four-length victory. He's had seven weeks to recover from the effort, but I still have concerns whether he can replicate that performance against better.

The stronger portion of the entry is Coal Front. The Todd Pletcher trainee entered the Allen Jerkens (G1) at Saratoga a perfect three-for-three, but failed to make the lead and finished a disappointing fifth. This group is competitive, but definitely presents class relief for this son of Stay Thirsty. He is the one to beat.

#5 American Pastime presents an attractive alternative to the entry. The Southern California-based son of Tapizar is a perfect three-for-three at six furlongs and comes off an impressive 2 1/2-length victory versus high-level allowance/optional claimers at Del Mar for trainer Bob Hess Jr. He has enough tactical speed to remain close in the early going and draws the services of veteran Kent Desormeaux. Desormeaux has been riding great over the past couple of months.

At their likely odds, I think American Pastime is the play in the Gallant Bob.

#4 Running Mate is an intriguing long shot. He comes off an eye-catching victory at Delaware Park for trainer Larry Jones where he earned a 101 Brisnet Speed rating. I particularly was impressed with how he finished that day. He takes a big step up in competition, but at 15-1 is worth a look.

Race 10

The first of the two Grade 1s is the Cotillion at 1 1/16 miles. #9 Abel Tasman is the deserving 8-5-morning line favorite off of three consecutive Grade 1 wins since entering the barn of Bob Baffert. She did regress slightly in terms of her Brisnet Speed ratings in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) in late July, where she was all out to hold off Elate at odds of 4-5.

Baffert has given the 2017 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner two months off, so she should be fresh. I certainly respect her chances, but do not consider her a stand out in this group.

#2 Lockdown, #3 Actress, #5 It Tiz Well and #10 Salty all exit the Alabama (G1) at Saratoga. They are all likely to relish the turn back in distance after trying 1 1/4 miles for the initial time.

It Tiz Well ran huge in the Alabama setting brisk early fractions, and while she was no match for Elate in the end she held off Salty for a solid second at odds of 13-1. Both It Tiz Well and Salty are capable of springing the upset.

Lockdown and Actress will need to get the right trip and put forth career-best efforts to win the Cotillion, but will provide significant separation in the Pick 4 if they hit the wire first.

Race 11

Travers (G1) winner #4 West Coast is the 8-5-morning-line favorite in the Pennsylvania Derby, which makes up the final leg of the All-Stakes Pick 4. A repeat of his effort at Saratoga will make him tough to beat, but I think he will be an underlay despite having a big chance.

My complete thoughts on the event for three-year-old males can be found here.

Here is how I will play the late 50-cent Pick 4:


Race 8: 2+3+4+6+8+9
Race 9: 1+4+5
Race 10: 2+3+5+9+10
Race 11: 1

Ticket Cost: $45


Race 8: 2+3+4+6+8+9
Race 9: 5
Race 10: 2+3+5+9+10
Race 11: 1+4+5

Ticket Cost: $45

Total Budget: $90

Good luck at the windows!

You can find my full card Daily Selections each and everyday for the Southern California circuit and Indiana Grand here.

(Adam Coglianese Photography)