Parx Racing–known as Philadelphia Park for most of its history–has never been considered among the hallowed tracks of horse racing like Churchill Downs or Del Mar but things are looking very good indeed as they prepare for their September race meeting.
In fact, it would have been hard for Parx Director of Racing Sal Sinatra to have scripted a better set of circumstances for the track’s feature stakes race. The $1 million Pennsylvania Derby will be run on September 20 with a very famous horse in the field–2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome. This will be Chrome’s first race since his Triple Crown run that culminated in a fourth place finish in the Belmont Stakes. He’s been enjoying some ‘rest and relaxation’ and has only recently resumed training.
Were that not enough, Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable will run on the Pennsylvania Derby undercard in the $1 million Cotillion Stakes. Both Untapable and California Chrome will be using the Pennsylvania Derby as a ‘tune up’ race for the 2014 Breeders’ Cup. California Chrome will be targeting the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic while Untapable is expected to race in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
The day could get even better if last year’s best two year old, Shared Belief, decides to come East to take a shot at California Chrome in the Pennsylvania Derby. Shared Belief missed the Triple Crown races with a foot issue but has been dominant in winning six races in 2014. He looked as good as any three year old in the sport last weekend as he easily won the Pacific Classic at Del Mar. No decision has been made by Shared Belief’s connections but their also hoping to compete for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Pennsylvania Derby offers the same advantages as a warm up race as it does for California Chrome.
All of this is by design–Parx has built their stakes race program around the late September date in hopes that it would become a very attractive ‘tune up’ race for Breeders’ Cup hopefuls. That effort appears to be starting to pay off this year and should runners from Parx do well at the Breeders’ Cup it could become an integral part of the preparation process for the big races.