Shapiro: How to bet the Pennsylvania Derby

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TwinSpires Staff

September 22nd, 2017

By Scott Shapiro (@ScottShap34)

Saturday marks the pinnacle of the Parx Racing calendar as they present a loaded 13-race card headlined by the track’s premiere event, the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1).

The nine-furlong race over the main track came up strong led by Travers Stakes (G1) winner #4 West Coast. The son of Flatter is listed as the 8-5 morning line favorite, but meets a couple of colts capable of springing the upset on their best effort.

West Coast took control early at Saratoga in a Mid-Summer Derby that had very little early zip entered despite the large field size. Hall of Famer Mike Smith sent the Gary and Mary West-owned colt to the front where he was able to dictate terms early before being confronted by Irap and eventual runner-up Gunnevera.

The Bob Baffert trainee was impressive in repelling the challenge of his rivals in the Travers, but the race shape in the Pennsylvania Derby should be much different. Instead of West Coast being on the engine, the $425,000 Keeneland September 2015 purchase is likely to sit midpack on the backstretch and will need to outkick a few worthy opponents.

The probable odds-on public choice may be the likeliest winner, but there is little value to be had wagering on him. Anything below even-money seems like an underlay to me.

Instead of riding the chalk, I will lean on a colt that threw in a “clunker” last time out, but should rebound in a big way on Saturday afternoon.

#1 Timeline took on Grade 1 competition for the initial time in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in late July. He was well respected at the pari-mutuel windows when sent off as the 9-5-favorite for trainer Chad Brown.

The son of Hard Spun did not get off to his normal quick start, which appeared to take him out of his game. Jockey Javier Castellano was unable to relax him as he pulled himself into a duel with Battle of Midway. They both ended up tiring badly in a race that fell apart late.

Perhaps Timeline was outclassed in the Haskell but in my opinion, he is a much better horse than what we saw at the Jersey Shore.

The Woodford Racing runner draws the rail in the Pennsylvania Derby and with a clean break from the gate should be quick enough to make the lead and dictate terms. 

His 109 Brisnet Speed rating in May’s Peter Pan (G3) and 107 in the Pegasus (G3) the following month should be good enough to get the job done Saturday unless West Coast is able to replicate his career best 112 in the Travers, which was 10 points higher than his previous lifetime high.

I like Timeline’s chances to take this group gate-to-wire.

#5 Irap ran huge in the Travers despite being four-wide into the first turn and unable to save ground throughout the 10-furlong journey, finishing a game third. I think the son of Tiznow will be better served on the cutback in distance and merits serious consideration in all wagers. My only concern is that he has had a taxing campaign.

I would be surprised if any other runner won the Pennsylvania Derby, but perhaps a long shot can pick up the pieces and spice up the exotic wagers.

#2 Outplay dominated a much lesser group in the Curlin Stakes at Saratoga. He takes a big step up in class, but will be prominently placed and could outrun his 12-1 morning line odds.

#6 Talk Logistics has a win and a runner-up finish in two starts over the Parx main track. He is just 1-for-10 in his career, so he appears overmatched on paper, but he has hit the board in 7-of-10 and at 20-1 is worth including.

#10 Giuseppe the Great finished midpack in the Travers Stakes, but a mile and a quarter is not likely his game. A mile and an eighth also may be further than this son of Lookin At Lucky wants to run, but I have always liked this colt and think he can continue to move forward for veteran trainer Nick Zito.

Here is my wagering strategy for the $1 million race:

Suggested Wagers:

$50 Win #1 (at 4-1 or higher) = $50

$1 Trifecta Wheel 1 with 2+4+5 with 2+4+5+6+10 = $12

$1 Trifecta Wheel 1 with 2+4+5+6+10 with 2+4+5 = $12

$1 Superfecta Wheel 1 with 2+4+5 with 2+4+5+6+10 with 2+4+5+6+10 = $36

Total Budget = $110

Good luck at the windows!

Scott Shapiro covers Southern California tracks for Daily Selections