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Baffert Looks for PA Derby/Cotillion Sweep

by Parx Racing Press Release

September 20, 2017

With the three year-old championship still very much up for grabs, Gary and May West’s West Coast, trained by Bob Baffert, will try to solidify his case when he meets a field of 9 rivals in Saturday’s running of the G1 $1,000,000 Pennsylvania Derby. Upgraded to a Grade 1 race last fall by the American Graded Stakes Committee, the 37th renewal of Parx Racing’s biggest race will be its first as a Grade 1. The nine furlong test is scheduled for 5:45PM local time. Baffert will also send out the favorite, Abel Tasman, in the $1 million G1 Cotillion Stakes. The Quality Road filly will be looking for the fifth Grade 1 win of her career. Cotillion post time is 4:55PM. First post on Saturday is 12:25PM.

While the three classic winners, Always Dreaming, Cloud Computing and Tapwrit have all had their chances to stake their claims to the three year-old championship, none has been able to do so. With the door wide open, enter West Coast, a colt earlier in the year that had been among Bob Baffert’s “B” team. When his best sophomore, Mastery, got hurt, it was time for others to step forward and West Coast has done so in a big way. The Flatter colt began his late season surge with a convincing three and three-quarter length victory in the $150,000 Easy Goer Stakes June 10th at Belmont Park. He then captured his first graded win with a big rally to win the G3 Los Alamitos Derby July 15th and then went wire to wire to win the G1 Travers in his last start August 26th at Saratoga. Were he to capture a second Grade 1 prize here this weekend, his name could well land itself at the top of the class. He’ll open as a solid 8-5 morning line favorite with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith set to ride.

After getting beaten by West Coast in the Travers, Reddam Racing’s Irap will look to turn the tables on Saturday. Trained by Doug O’Neill, the Tiznow colt burst onto the scene with an improbable win in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. Entering the race as a maiden and dismissed as a 31-1 long shot, he took the lead turning for home and held off two well regarded colts, Practical Joke and McCraken to win for the first time. His strong development has continued. Since the Blue Grass win, he’s also won the G3 Ohio Derby, beating Girvin by a whisker, and the G3 Indiana Derby where he romped home a full five lengths in front. His trip in the Travers was less than ideal. Four wide on both turns, he loomed a factor at the top of the stretch but couldn’t sustain his bid and came home a still respectable third. The cut back in distance and a better trip could suit him well.

Irish War Cry will also be looking to make amends after finishing a disappointing fourth in the G1 Haskell last time out. Owned by Isabelle deTomaso and trained by Graham Motion, the Curlin colt has shown on his best day that he’s a top tier three year-old. He had dominating wins earlier in the year in the G2 Fountain of Youth and G2 Wood Memorial. He seems to run his best on the lead and with other speed entered, he may need to show a different dimension if he’s to win the first Grade 1 of his career.

The G1 Cotillion Stakes features the likely three year-old filly champion, Abel Tasman. A Grade 1 winner as a two year-old, winning the Starlet last December, she comes into the Cotillion off of three consecutive Grade 1 wins. Sweeping from last over a sloppy track at Churchill, she won the Kentucky Oaks back in early May. In the Acorn at Belmont, she got a brilliant ride from Mike Smith and prevailed over a game Salty and she then got a stiff challenge in the Coaching Club American Oaks from the improving Elate, but showed her courage to hold on to win that one by a head. She’ll also open as the 8-5 choice with Mike Smith aboard.

Among those looking to knock off Abel Tasman are Actress and It Tiz Well. Actress is trained by the high percentage Jason Servis. Her first career win came in similar fashion to Irap. Having lost her first two starts, she went to Pimlico and broke her maiden winning the G2 Black Eyed Susan. Fourth in the recent G1 Alabama, the shorter one mile and one-sixteenth distance of the Cotillion may play to her favor. The cut back in distance could also help Alabama runner up, It Tiz Well. She’s s multiple Grade 3 winner, taking the Honeybee back in March down at Oaklawn and then winning the Delaware Oaks in early July. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, she made all the running in the Alabama, but the mile and a quarter took its toll and she weakened late, but still held gamely for second. Her two Grade 3 wins came with stalking trips and if she could work out another, she could prove tough.

A terrific undercard is topped by the $300,000 G3 Gallant Bob Stakes, a six furlong sprint for three year-olds headed by Grade 2 winner, Coal Front. The Stay Thirsty colt didn’t make his debut until late April, but quickly won this first three starts, the run capped off win a victory in the G2 Amsterdam at Saratoga. He’ll break from post six with John Velazquez up for Todd Pletcher and opens as part of an entry that’s favored at 2-1.

Two other stakes will be contested on the giant Saturday program. State-breds square off in the $100,000 Alphabet Soup on the turf at one mile and one-sixteenth while another outstanding field will enter the gate for $150,000 PA Derby Championship Stakes, named for the 2016 PA Derby winner, Connect.

From 4:30 to 6:00PM, the three big races will all be televised on ComcastSportNet. Laffit Pincay III and Dick Jerardi will anchor the coverage while Caton Bredar and Randy Moss will provide updates and interviews with the participants. NBC10’S Krystal Clei will handle additional coverage from around the race track.

The card on Saturday will have 13races with a post time of 12:25PM. Gates will open to the public at 10AM. Cotillion post time is scheduled for 4:55PM. PA Derby post time is set for 5:45PM.

Here’s the complete field for the $1 million G1 Pennsylvania Derby

1 – Timeline (Brown/Castellano) 5-1
2 – Outplay (Pletcher/Velazquez) 12-1
3 – Watch Me Whip (Romans/Albarado) 20-1
4 – West Coast (Baffert/Smith) 8-5
5 – Irap (O'Neill/Gutierrez) 3-1
6 – Talk Logistics (Plesa Jr./Pennington) 20-1
7 – Game Over (Navarro/Carmouche) 15-1
8 – Irish War Cry (Motion/Lynch) 9-2
9 – Term of Art (O'Neill/Van Dyke) 20-1
10- Giuseppe the Great (Zito/Saez) 20-1

Here’s the complete field for the $1 million G1 Cotillion Stakes

1 – Thirstforthecup (Pletcher/Velazquez) 12/1
1A – Stay Fond (Pletcher/Velazquez) 12-1
1X - Run and Go (Pletcher/Velazquez) 12/1
2 – Lockdown (Mott/J. Ortiz) 8-1
3 – Actress (Servis/Carmouche) 5-1
4 – Proud and Fearless (Jones/Pedroza) 20-1
5 – It Tiz Well (Hollendorfer/Van Dyke) 4-1
6 – Mopotism (O’Neill/Gutierrez 20-1 1
7 – Sine Wave (Perkins/Albarado) 20-1
8 – Teresa Z (Margotta/Castellano 12-1)
9 – Abel Tasman (Baffert/Smith) 8-5
10 – Salty (Casse/Gaffalione) 5-1

1 Thirstforthecup (post 6), 1A Stay Fond (post 7), and 1X Run and Go (post 9) are coupled in the wagering

Here’s the complete field for the G3 Gallant Bob Stakes

1 - Petrov (Moquett/J. Oritz) 2/1
1A - Coal Front (Pletcher/Velazquez) 2/1
2 – Ann Arbor Eddie (O’Neill/Gutierrez) 10-1
3 – Action Everyday (Margotta/Jimenez) 15-1
4 – Running Mate (Jones/Pedroza) 15-1
5 – American Pastime (Hess/Desormeaux) 7-2
6 – Sonic Mule (Pletcher/Carmouche) 12-1
7 – Excitations (Stall/Castellano) 5-2
8 – Aquamarine (Lukas/Saez) 20-1
9 – Glory Stars (Moore/Sanchez) 15-1

1 Petrov (post 2) & 1A Coal Front (post 6) are coupled in the wagering