PA Derby & Cotillion Top Big Saturday at Parx
Questing can tighten an already firm grip on three-year-old filly divisional honors with a victory Saturday in the $1 million Cotillion at Parx Racing. Elevated to Grade 1 status this year, the Cotillion will be the first top-level race ever contested in the state of Pennsylvania, which saw pari-mutuel Thoroughbred racing introduced in 1969 at the defunct Liberty Bell Park.
In addition to the Cotillion, Parx also offers the Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on Saturday. It is believed to be the first instance in North American racing that two million-dollar races will be held at the same track on the same day outside of the annual Breeders’ Cup programs.
The 1 1/8-mile Pennsylvania Derby features a rematch between Alpha and Golden Ticket, the first dead-heat winners in the history of the Grade 1 Travers. The photo-finish camera could not separate either Alpha, who started as the 2-1 favorite, and Golden Ticket, a 33-1 chance who had not raced in more than three months and was still eligible for a first-level allowance.
With the exception of a poor performance in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, Alpha has been a gem of consistency this season, previously taking the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, Grade 3 Withers and Count Fleet prior to the Travers. He was also an unlucky second in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial before traveling to Churchill Downs.
Golden Ticket also competed on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill, but in an undercard allowance which he lost by a neck. It would be his final start before the Travers, where he clung on for the tie after opening up a one-length lead in the stretch. Prior to his sharing of the Midsummer Derby title, Golden Ticket’s career highlight had been a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby.
The main threat to the top pair might come from Macho Macho, a half-length winner of the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby last time. Left in the gray colt’s wake at Mountaineer Park were subsequent Grade 2 Super Derby hero Bourbon Courage and the now-retired juvenile champion Hansen.
Sophomore speedsters Trinniberg and Currency Swap will renew rivalry for a fourth time in the $300,000 Gallant Bob over six furlongs. The two have endured ups and downs this season, with the Grade 1 King’s Bishop on August 25 being a down moment for both.
Trinniberg led the King’s Bishop by a length to the stretch while setting a pace that had not always been overly taxing to him in the past. However, the son of Teuflesburg lost two shoes during the course of the race and gave way in the stretch to finish ninth in the field of 10. Currency Swap, the 9-5 favorite that day, sat a perfect stalking trip in third but came up empty in the stretch and retreated to sixth.
The rivals first met in last year’s Grade 1 Hopeful, with Currency Swap gaining the edge by three-quarters of a length. Their second meeting, in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens June 9, resulted in a 1 3/4-length triumph by Trinniberg. The latter also owns victories in the Grade 3 Bay Shore and Grade 3 Swale this term, while Currency Swap’s biggest win of the season thus far came in the Grade 2 Amsterdam two back.
Among those looking to depose the two favorites is multiple stakes winner Il Villano, who finished third in the Woody Stephens prior to a recent second in the Red Legend at Charles Town