How to bet the 2021 Pennsylvania Derby
A stout field of nine sophomores will travel 1 1/8 miles on the Parx main strip in Saturday’s $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1). The ultra-competitive event features multiple Triple Crown veterans, combined with some up-and-coming stars, in what looks like the most exciting race of the weekend.
I have a soft spot for #7 Hot Rod Charlie (5-2), though he doesn’t have a Grade 1 victory to his credit as of yet. Trained by Doug O’Neill, the dark bay son of Oxbow is a Grade 2 hero, but has been unfortunate in numerous Grade 1 tilts in his career. He was second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) as a two-year-old, checked in a fine third in the Kentucky Derby (G1), and finished a monstrous runner-up Belmont S. (G1) prior to finishing first but being taken down in the Haskell S. (G1) in his most recent endeavor.
Hot Rod Charlie has been so good since adding blinkers in October, and his versatile running style might be his best asset. The Kentucky-bred will be forwardly placed on Saturday, but since he is not a need-the-lead type, I expect Flavien Prat to have the colt poised for success while in a good spot throughout the nine-furlong test.
I will use a trio of contenders underneath my top pick in the vertical wagers. #1 Fulsome (12-1) is 4-for-5 on dirt and gets a cozy rail draw for his toughest assignment to date. The rising Brad Cox pupil possesses a punishing turn of foot, and if he gets a fast pace to rally into, then I expect him to make a lot of noise inside the final furlong. He prepped for his Grade 1 debut with a win in the local Smarty Jones S. last time out.
#2 Keepmeinmind (8-1) had no chance behind a major speed bias in the Travers S. (G1) most recently, but the talented sophomore still ran a solid fourth in my opinion. The Laoban three-year-old still owns just one lifetime tally after notching the 2020 Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2), but he is still among the best of his crop and can’t be dismissed.
#10 Anamericanrevolution (15-1) takes a massive class hike following his impressive score over state-bred runners in the Albany S. at Saratoga in his latest outing. The Pletcher pupil is 3-for-3 since joining this barn, and the improving son of Constitution might be a nice exotics piece at a number. Chestnut loves to run a route of ground, and getting Saez at a huge price is always enticing.
I will take a stand against Travers runner-up #8 Midnight Bourbon (5-1) on this occasion. The sturdy son of Tiznow is no doubt among the best three-year-olds in training, and while he is a must-use in the exotics, I don’t love the trip that I expect him to receive on Saturday. I tabbed the bay to win the Travers, but will limit his use to the gimmicks in this spot.
Pennsylvania Derby Wagers
- $30 win #7 Hot Rod Charlie ($30)
- $7 exacta key box 7 with 1,2 ($28)
- $1 superfecta key 7 with 1,2,8,10 ($24)