Over the past half-decade, the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G2) has grown into a premiere fall event for some of the best three-year-olds in the country. Beginning with future multiple Grade 1 winner and stakes record-holder To Honor and Serve in 2011, the PA Derby has drawn an impressive roster of horses, including 2014 Kentucky Derby (and future Dubai World Cup) hero California Chrome, who finished fourth behind Bayern, who used the PA Derby as a springboard prep for his exciting victory in his next start – the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. Will Take Charge captured the 2013 PA Derby en route to being crowned that year’s Eclipse Award for top three-year-old male. And of course last year fans saw Frosted vault out of American Pharoah’s shadow, winning under a hand ride and showing a spark of the brilliance he has exhibited as a four-year-old this year (Frosted won the G1 Met Mile by more than 14 lengths before winning the G1 Whitney Handicap in his most recent start at Saratoga).
This year’s PA Derby is looking to attract yet another group of outstanding sophomores, and is doing so in a big way, as track management has implemented a structure of total purse bonuses. Three different colts captured the three Triple Crown races this spring and Parx Racing would like the whole trio to make the trip to Bensalem for its premiere event (note: Creator was ultimately not nominated for the PA Derby).
“If all three run, the purse will be raised by $500,000 to $1.5 million,” said Director of Racing Sam Elliott, who has been regularly speaking with the horses’ connections this summer. “If two of the three run, the purse will be revised $250,000 to $1.25 million. All three have expressed interest.”
The $1 million, Grade 1 Cotillion will also be contested on PA Derby Day. It is expected that the undefeated, sensational filly Songbird will draw a big crowd, but she will likely face a formidable local competitor – John Servis’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) heroine Cathryn Sophia. Elliott recently added the $150,000 Princess of Sylmar Stakes on September 3rd as a prep for Cathryn Sophia and the filly made easy work of her opponents in that race.
“We’re looking forward to it,” said Servis upon the race announcement a few months ago. “We hope all goes well up to that point, but it gives us a chance to get a race over the track before the Cotillion.”
Also on PA Derby Day, a very special raffle will be drawn to benefit the PTHA’s Turning for Home, Inc., Parx Racing’s racehorse retirement program. Thanks to the generosity of Coolmore America, supporters have the chance to win a halter worn by 2015 Triple Crown Champion, American Pharoah. A limited number of tickets will be available for purchase. Visit here for more details.
Fans will receive free PA Derby baseball caps while supplies last, as well as access to free family fun including pony rides, face painters, moonbounce, temporary tattoos and more from 12:00pm – 5:00pm.
The big stakes races will be featured during a special live broadcast on Comcast SportsNet from 4:30pm – 6:00pm, with a Derby Preview Show on Friday, September 23 from 6:00pm – 6:30pm.