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Reincarnate, Saudi Crown Head 11 in Pennsylvania Derby

The Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga Race Course may be the time-honored prep race for the Travers Stakes (G1), but trainer Brad Cox viewed it differently.

He saw a narrow loss there as a perfect springboard to prepare Saudi Crown  for the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx Racing, the Sept. 23 final grade 1 dirt race of the year limited to 3-year-old males.

“He’s a lightly raced colt and we threw a lot at him last time, trying him at a mile-and-an-eighth for the first time against a champion,” Cox said about FMQ Stables’ son of Always Dreaming  . “He came up a little short but it was a big effort. Our plan since the Dwyer (Stakes) was to go to the Pennsylvania Derby and if all went well it was going to be our swing at a grade 1.”

After that loss by a nose to 2-year-old champ Forte  in the Jim Dandy, Cox believes the Spa seasoning should pay off Saturday when Saudi Crown faces 10 rivals, including the 3-1 morning-line favorite Reincarnate , in Saturday’s test at the same mile-and-an-eighth distance as the Jim Dandy.

“Hopefully he’ll be a better horse than he was in the Jim Dandy and if he is, he’s in a great spot to get a grade 1 win that would be huge for him” Cox said. “He’s training very well.”

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Running in the Jim Dandy was an audible as Cox entered at the last minute due to a small but salty field that lacked much pace. Saudi Crown supplied that and then some, leading throughout until the final jump when Forte pushed his nose in front.

It was the second-straight loss by a nose for the son of the Tapit   mare New Narration bred by CHC Inc. who has won two of his four career starts. In his previous effort, he suffered his first loss when second by a whisker to Fort Bragg  after a fierce stretch duel in the Dwyer Stakes (G3).

“He’s by a sire who won the Kentucky Derby out of a Tapit mare, so the pedigree is there to handle a distance of ground,” Cox said.

Saudi Crown, the 7-2 second choice from post 3 in Saturday’s stakes, was bought for $240,000 from the Top Line Sales consignment at the OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training.

Reincarnate, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, was assigned the role of favorite at the Sept. 18 draw and also landed the outside post in the field of 11. The grade 3 winner has tactical speed which should help Del Mar riding champ Juan Hernandez get a manageable position on the first turn of a race in which the two favorites figure to be close to each other in the early going.

“It’s probably better being on the rail and it’s a little farther out than ideal. But he has tactical speed and we have a seasoned rider on him who knows him well and rides him well and we’ll let him work it out from the break,” said SF Racing and Bloodstock’s Tom Ryan, managing partner of the ownership group that includes SF, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital, and Catherine Donovan.

A 3-year-old son of Good Magic   bred by Woods Edge Farm, Reincarnate started 2023 with a victory in the Sham Stakes (G3) but then lost his next three starts, which included a 13th in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and a third in the Arkansas Derby (G1), before winning the July 8 Los Alamitos Derby in front-running style.

“Bob is very happy with him. He’s a big, physical colt who has developed every which way, physically, mentally,” Ryan said. “Time has been his friend and hopefully this is his chance to shine. We’ve seen from Good Magic (sire of Kentucky Derby winner Mage ) that he can produce a grade 1winner at two turns.”

Baffert, who won the Pennsylvania Derby last year with Taiba  , will be seeking his fifth win in the stakes, all since 2014.

There should be a lively pace as the field also includes LNJ Foxwoods’ Scotland  (post 5, 6-1), a Good Magic gelding who set the early pace in the 1 1/4-mile Travers before fading to sixth for trainer Bill Mott. Scotland won the Curlin Stakes at the Spa in gate-to-wire fashion prior to the Travers while making his stakes debut.

Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Magic Tap  (post 4, 5-1) makes his stakes debut off an Aug. 13 allowance win at Saratoga. It was the son of Tapit’s second victory in four career starts for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who last won the race in 2002 with Starlight’s Harlan’s Holiday, will send out the duo of Dreamlike  and Crupi , both owned by St. Elias Stable and Repole Stable. Dreamlike (post 2, 10-1), a Gun Runner   colt who was beaten by a head when third in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2), was fifth behind Magic Tap in the Saratoga allowance race after stumbling at the start. Crupi (post 9, 15-1), a son of Curlin  , lost his first seven starts before reeling off maiden and allowance wins in his last two efforts.

Entries: Pennsylvania Derby (G1)

Parx Racing, Saturday, September 23, 2023, Race 13

  • Grade I
  • 1 1/8m
  • Dirt
  • $1,000,000
  • 3 yo
  • 6:10 PM (local)

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