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Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

2022 Pennsylvania Derby Analysis


I had written a formal analysis as I normally do for this race a couple days ago. I was going to post it yesterday but instead, I deleted it. I'm starting all over again. The analysis and the handicapping for this race must be a bit different. Certain things don't matter, while other things take on more meaning. As far as distance is concerned, the whole field can run 9f, so there is no reason to consume any time with that. As far as pace, in most all cases with each of the main players on the field, pace is a secondary concern at 9f.


The Pennsylvania Derby is all about BIAS.


This track is a speedway. It runs faster and faster as the day rolls on and by the 12th race, you'd think we were at Santa Anita. This track works in two ways though - in some cases, the speed up front runs even faster and they burn their energy faster than norm. In the other cases, previous killer displayed speed with just enough stamina puts on quite a show. The star-studded players that we have this year, at this distance, are truly going to show their best. Alot of things lineup for for quite a few players.


Starting with the easy tosses and ending with the most advantaged on the field.


11. ICY STORM

DP = 2-7-7-0-0 (16) DI = 3.57 CD = 0.69

Mare Profile = 9-1-5-8-6 Speed = 10 Stamina = 14 Index = 0.96 Triads = 15-14-19

I didn’t think it could get any worse than Naval Aviator, but this poor guy deserves a quiet pasture as opposed to a contest up against Grade 1 winners. This is all about his connections seeking 2 minutes of fame having their names on the same sheet as the stars in this race. The epitome of cluelessness. A 12k claiming race, a 16k claiming race and a 75k allowance all under 9f. Of course, I won’t be betting a dime on this horse. I will, however, scream for him to succeed - simply because I feel completely sorry for what they are about to put him through.


10. NAVAL AVIATOR

DP = 5-10-12-1-0 (28) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.68

Mare Profile = 10-4-1-7-8 Speed = 14 Stamina = 15 Index = 1.04 Triads = 15-12-16

They have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at this horse. Turf, AWS, Dirt and three different trainers. Now, after an allowance race on the deep track at Saratoga hitting 2nd, this new genius of a trainer thinks that a speedy bias against Grade 1 winners after a 60+ day layoff will do the trick. You can’t make this stuff up!


9. B DAWK

DP = 3-3-7-1-0 (14) DI = 2.11 CD = 0.57

Mare Profile = 10-5-4-5-8 Speed = 15 Stamina = 13 Index = 1.16 Triads = 19-14-17

This guy will be “stretching out” to 9f after a 57-day layoff coming off a 7f allowance race and put into a gate with Grade 1 winners. That’s all that needs to be said.


8. TAWNY PORT

DP = 3-3-4-0-0 (10) DI = 4.00 CD = 0.90

Mare Profile = 4-7-5-9-6 Speed = 11 Stamina = 15 Index = 0.77 Triads = 16-21-20

This is a very good horse and I struggled with placing him so far away from the top but since this race is dictated by the bias, I see no other choice. He is at 6-1 odds because of his pace numbers from his last race. There is no doubt, they are exceptionally good - but, I'm looking at a Saratoga date of July 30th with a horse who has proven himself on AWS and who has never exploded on a fast track. The Parx bias is crazy fast and I just can't see where that spark is going to reveal itself. That killer late pace at Saratoga was when the track was deep and catered to stamina while destroying speed. That is opposite of what thrives here.


7. WHITE ABARRIO

DP = 2-5-5-0-0 (12) DI = 3.80 CD = 0.75

Mare Profile = 9-5-2-7-8 Speed = 14 Stamina = 15 Index = 1.00 Triads = 16-14-17

Something occurred just before or during the Haskell Stakes that made this horse give in and then he was steadily worked all through August and September at Saratoga without racing. Working on a track that was the complete opposite in bias at the time from Parx. This just makes no sense. He did run 2 bullets there, but what was the point? I can understand not wanting to compete against Epicenter, but the Haskell performance makes you wonder. With the likes of at least 5 other talented horses in this race, it is hard to justify even using him underneath. That bullet work on August 28th was really nice and it aligns nicely with Parx, but I can’t figure out the Haskell and the halt on racing which leaves me at a complete loss. Honestly, when it comes to the underneath spots in the superfecta, I truly have no idea which way to go here yet. He is built right for the race, and he has shown that this is the bias that he prefers. Do you do the “just in case” scenario and throw him on underneath or do you go with your gut and walk away. I won't know that answer until I physically place the bet. Since I am heading there this year, I will know it when I see him in the paddock.


6. SKIPPYLONGSTOCKING

DP = 3-5-8-0-0 (16) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.69

Mare Profile = 8-2-3-11-5 Speed = 10 Stamina = 16 Index = 0.88 Triads = 13-16-19

Between his 3rd place in the 12f Belmont and his win last out in the WV Derby, it would have appeared that this was not the place for this horse – but – the fact that the WV Derby was run on a sloppy track is what flips everything back in his favor. Skippy is a very even paced horse, which gave him favor in the Belmont. That even pace of his worked with speed at the 9f distance and shows favor for the Parx bias. Skippy appears to be capable of a sneaky surprise underneath on that tote board – but – the performances he gave down at Gulfstream were mediocre and goes against the bias at Parx. It could be that Skippy was simply immature and highly favoring his chefs as a young one and has now come into his own. To be on the safe side and leaning more towards the recent sloppy triumph, it is best to assume that Skippy will keep even pace with the speedy pace as dictated on the slick Parx bias and hold on for a piece. On one hand, I'm liking his chances a bit more than Simplification because of his steady pace. On the other hand, I love Simplification's killer determination.


5. SIMPLIFICATION

DP = 1-0-9-0-0 (10) DI = 1.22 CD = 0.20

Mare Profile = 2-11-4-11-3 Speed = 13 Stamina = 14 Index = 0.90 Triads = 17-26-18

Not sure why this horse was sent to the WV Derby but, at the very least, he was able to sustain an even pace on a sloppy track at 9f – info that is very valuable. His Preakness performance needs to be tossed; the horse bled throughout the race. So, looking at everything that transpired with him since his Gulfstream performances are commendable but not quite as important as what he did in Florida. Those races align with Parx. Based on his ability to stay the course on the sloppy track last out and based on how he ran on the slick track at Gulfstream, gives him a bit of hope to grab a slight piece here. He is not as fierce as a few others on this list, but he has a strong will that is hard to overlook. Maybe it’s superstition or just sentimental loyalty - he will definitely be on my super ticket - but I certainly have no expectations of a win here. He is the reason for the trip to Parx this year and I will place one hopeful win ticket in hopes of a Mucho Macho Man encore. Wishful thinking, but if I’m going to scream for the horse, I want a longshot win ticket with those odds in my pocket, just in case. Between him and Skippy, (and possibly Abarrio) a case could be made for all 3 to see their names on the bottom slots of the super. It's just a matter of how deep you want to go with a low odds favorite most likely hitting the wire first. I'm staying right here.


4. WE THE PEOPLE

DP = 1-4-3-0-0 (8) DI = 4.33 CD = 0.75

Mare Profile = 7-6-3-7-3 Speed = 13 Stamina = 10 Index = 1.44 Triads = 16-16-13

UPDATED and CHANGED: Spent some time today looking into this horse mainly because he should be on the lead and with this track, that spot is advantageous. His resume is actually quite good, with one off race in the Arkansas Derby but he didnt have his forward spot. He ran 4th in the Belmont but at 12f, it really means nothing in the whole scope of things. Realistically, the races that matter as they pertain to the PA derby, this horse has come in 1st or 2nd and his beyer figures are consistent and very good. I believe this guy is in a very good race for his style and his speed and he has a real shot at breaking through here. As far as a "longshot" in this race, Im liking this guy's potential, and I'll be using him across the board in that super. This is a really packed race and anything could happen. If there was any surface for him to take it gate to wire, it's this one. If he gets the lead, based on his pace numbers, his style and the bias, it would actually put him at an almost even advantage with Taiba.


3. CYBERKNIFE

DP = 0-2-6-0-0 (8) DI = 1.67 CD = 0.25

Mare Profile = 3-2-5-12-6 Speed = 5 Stamina = 18 Index = 0.45 Triads = 10-19-23

This guy needs to duplicate the Haskell if he has any shot at beating Taiba (and possibly Zandon) in this race. That is obvious. He ran that 9f in 1:46.24, the fastest time for the distance from this entire field. Duplicating all of the specifics from one race to the next, including pace structure, track bias, and most importantly, the contenders, is truly a non-issue. The circumstances are never the same, but the one thing that is exact, is the capability of the horse. At this distance, this horse is right in his comfort zone. What is not jiving with that spectacular final time though is the pace figures that he was assigned from that race. They are inferior to Taiba’s from the Santa Anita Derby. Usually, we would bypass figures from that track moving to the next as they are normally exaggerated due to the bias. The unfortunate thing is that Santa Anita is aligned with Parx, so face value figures must be taken. In this race, Cyberknife does not hold the advantage, even with his record breaking 9f final time.


2. ZANDON

DP = 2-3-9-0-0 (14) DI = 2.11 CD = 0.50

Mare Profile = 13-0-1-5-9 Speed = 13 Stamina = 14 Index = 1.13 Triads = 14-6-15

Zandon is built perfectly for this race and since Epicenter is leaving him alone for this one, he should finally be able to have a fighting chance for the Winner’s Circle, especially at the 9f distance. The beyer figures from the 9f Jim Dandy run at Saratoga on July 30th do not translate to Parx at all. We must go back to the 9f Bluegrass where he won – running to his style with a full field. He posted a very nice late pace of 114. That line is much more pertinent to this race. The fact that he ran into a 24.04 opening is very commendable, as he was able to reserve his speed for that final push. That opening should be a bit faster on Saturday, but not by much with We the People up front, so Zandon will be pouring it on late, faster than the late figures in the Travers. This is a very good spot for him.


1. TAIBA

DP = 2-2-8-0-0 (12) DI = 2.00 CD = 0.50

Mare Profile = 5-3-6-8-8 Speed = 8 Stamina = 16 Index = 0.63 Triads = 14-17-22

One of the main reasons why Baffert is so successful in this race is because his speedy horses are trained at Santa Anita – a track that is very similar to Parx. Add in the 9f distance and Baffert steps into this race with severe advantage year after year. His horses are basically trained daily for this very race and the distance coincides. Therefore, Baffert and Smith make the trip knowing they have a clear advantage. Taiba will most likely run this race in the same manner as the Santa Anita Derby. Hard trained in his last and made a very nice showing, Taiba should explode on the Parx surface. This horse does not run to his numbers (no surprise there) but he does have that Gun Runner/Candy Ride speed in him that overrides the rest (excluding Cyberknife). This looks to be Taiba’s best spot since the Santa Anita Derby, walking into Parx with the highest advantage on the field. Hell, I hated even writing this whole paragraph, but it is what it is. One thing is for certain, if he does in fact win this race, I will not be looking at Mike Smith's smile in the Winner's Circle.


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