top of page

Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

2023 Pennsylvania Derby Notes

The problem faced with this year's edition of the Pennsylvania Derby is not so much the rain, but the strong wind that is supposedly associated with this storm. At the moment, there is no way of knowing which way the headwinds are facing. Will they be straight into the gate affecting the early pace? Will they be hitting them head-on as the horses hit the stretch, or will it push them faster on the backstretch run? Who knows?

The rain will begin at 1 am tonight and continue all through the night, all morning, all afternoon and back into the night again. All of that non-stop rain could easily produce a deep and tiring mud as opposed to a wet slick track as well.

The opposing factor of speed, which benefits from the rainy sloppy track to those who have the necessary stamina to plow through strong headwinds and/or deep mud is what makes this particular edition quite twisted.

One group has advantage, one group is greatly disadvantaged, but where that lies at the moment is completely up in the air. This factor almost held me back from even posting at all, but we've never missed a PA Derby, always hit the mark, so the tradition will continue.

We'll just have to settle for a half-assed analysis because the most important aspect for the PA Derby, the bias, is a complete crapshoot at the moment.

If the storm is as they predict, this is an extremely bad race to bet. If it were simply a sloppy tack, it is quite easy to discern those with an advantage, however, adding in strong wind gives advantage to a completely different type of horse. Plus, how deep does it go? Rain for 16+ hours straight certainly has a tendency to create quicksand. We could be looking at Orb's Derby 2.0.

Gamble at your own risk on this one because of this weather. Hindsight being 20-20 is something that you don't want to be saying after this race. (Or after any of the races on this card, for that matter)

Full disclosure: Most likely, I will be sitting this one out unless there is a pattern to the undercard and the wind factor and mud type is fully realized. This storm, heavy rain and wind, will affect the final results. Because of it, none of these results can be used when handicapping the Breeders Cup either. It is not the same bias anymore. Also, no definitive picks this year. It's impossible.

I wouldn't go as far as to say the results will be completely skewed, but outside forces may hinder those who should have been aligned with a "true" Parx bias. If the storm persists, results cannot be attached to the Breeders Cup.

Parx Normal Bias = Speed Advantage. Wet Sloppy Track = Speed advantage.

Deep and Tiring Muddy Track = Stamina Strong Headwinds = Stamina Advantage.

There is no proper way to handicap this race without knowing how that bias will ultimately land.


Modern Era

DP = 6-7-11-0-0 (24) DI = 3.36 CD = 0.79 ANZ = 4.09

Mare Profile = 5-4-7-6-6 Speed = 9 Stamina = 12 Index = 0.84 Triads = 16-17-19

This horse wants no part of his chart. Way out of his league here regardless of weather conditions.

Daydreaming Boy

DP = 1-4-5-0-0 (10) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.60 ANZ = 3.00

Mare Profile = 7-7-4-6-5 Speed = 14 Stamina = 11 Index = 1.25 Triads = 18-17-15

Might have had a little hope on a clean track here, but at 9f on a sloppy track, no hope at all.

West Coast Cowboy

DP = 4-4-8-0-0 (16) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.75 ANZ = 3.00

Mare Profile = 8-2-3-6-7 Speed = 10 Stamina = 13 Index = 0.91 Triads = 13-11-16

The race would need to be run at a snail's pace for this horse to perform on a sloppy windy track.


DP = 6-8-12-0-0 (26) DI = 3.33 CD = 0.77 ANZ = 3.33

Mare Profile = 8-2-1-7-11 Speed = 10 Stamina = 18 Index = 0.63 Triads = 11-10-19

This guy has the stamina to plow through strong winds which should highly affect the speedy group if that should actually occur. Without the turmoil of the weather, this guy would not have been compatible. Stamina dominant that overtakes extreme speed. The threat of wind may work to his advantage if it's coming straight into the lead speed. If it's deep and tiring, he capitalizes. We simply can't know the answer to that at the present time.


DP = 1-4-7-0-0 (12) DI = 2.43 CD = 0.50

Mare Profile = 7-3-5-7-6 Speed = 10 Stamina = 13 Index = 0.92 Triads = 15-15-18

Dreamlike and Scotland are basically sitting in the same boat. Chefs are on a fairly level playing field, but one gains advantage with harsh wind and one gains advantage with the sloppy conditions. The mares give Dreamlike more stamina to fight the wind. With Scotland, the mares enhance his chances on the wet surface. As with all of these horses, it also depends a great deal on the "sloppiness" as well. Will it be wet and slick or deep and tiring? Again, dominance in their scales will tip that corresponding advantage.


DP = 3-6-8-1-0 (18) DI = 2.60 CD = 0.61 ANZ = 3.00

Mare Profile = 10-4-2-7-6 Speed = 14 Stamina = 13 Index = 1.24 Triads = 16-13-15

See above.

Il Miracolo

DP = 1-4-7-0-0 (12) DI = 2.43 CD = 0.50 ANZ = 3.00

Mare Profile = 5-4-5-7-8 Speed = 9 Stamina = 15 Index = 0.68 Triads = 14-16-20

This guy would have been the main draw to this race, not for the betting aspect, but to gauge this horse at the 8th pole. He liked the bias, but the Smarty Jones was run so slow at the 1/4 and the 1/2. It would have yielded a great deal of insight to see how he did on a clean Parx bias traveling faster earlier, as it would have aligned with The Dirt Mile at S.A. Unfortunate now that all of it is trashed from all the races today. This horse will only capitalize here if the wind hits the speed head on and cripples them or deeper mud. Il Miracolo has the stamina to push through which is why he did so well in the Smarty Jones.


DP = 2-3-5-0-0 (10) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.70 ANZ = 3.80

Mare Profile = 6-5-5-7-8 Speed = 11 Stamina = 15 Index = 0.79 Triads = 16-17-20

This guy started out on Turf and as a 2 year old, he did fairly well. It takes some inbred stamina to work on the grass and the mares, along with the lower .70 CD does suggest it's there. The problem is the way he has always been pushed to reveal his speed as opposed to his stamina. If you notice, he was steadied early in the Rebel Stakes and he was not exerting all of his speed early. He climbed the ranks from 11 lengths off the lead all the way up to 2.5 lengths behind the winner. The Rebel also happened to be run on a sloppy track and he gained very well.

Many may see Post 11 as a very strong negative for this horse, but it actually could end up being a blessing in disguise. If he tries to go with Saudi Crown's extravagant early pace figures, Reincarnate will see a Derby 2.0 performance. If he hangs back, he could pull off a run like that Rebel and based on the extreme conditions and extra experience, he could easily enhance his chances.


DP = 1-2-3-0-0 (6) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.67 ANZ = 7.00

Mare Profile = 6-3-4-8-7 Speed = 9 Stamina = 15 Index = 0.73 Triads = 13-15-19

This horse benefits from both the rain and the stamina needed to combat the wind factor. His resume and his workout history going back to the very beginning of his career is very telling on both sides. Obvious stamina ability with success on AWS, but his speed was always compromised on that surface. Much faster workouts early on when he was with Baffert out on the west coast. ANZ figure at 7.00 depicts SPEED - more than all below him on this list. Has yet to run on this type of bias even without the rain to assist. Additions are saying fast slick track, Mares and chefs give him killer stamina, which is why his speed side downgraded on AWS and some of the east coast dirt biases that he has competed on.

This horse wants to run fast, as depicted in his last race and also the John Battaglia. Both on AWS, which appears to be adverse to his 7.00 influence. Based on his breeding, all of his dirt races have been way too short. His mares are stamina packed. He expends too much too early in order to keep up with the sprinters and speed demons in those shorter races. He is not built for that.

He had one 9f race in his career - of course - on AWS. He sustained an even pace and then upgraded late. He did better here because of the distance but still incorrect on the bias. His best came on dirt, under his optimum in the 8f Pat Day Mile at Churchill. That was Derby Day and that track was consistently catering to speed demons all day leading up to the Derby. Gilmore sat in 10th position, steadily gaining ground as he circled the field 8 wide. He was defeated, grabbing his third, but the track WAS TOO SHORT FOR HIM. He's not a miler.

He was then dropped down in distance for the 7f Woody Stephens. Opposite again, but his late effort was actually very commendable for the shorter distance. Then another huge drop in distance and then finally back to at least the 8f and back on dirt.

It does not appear that Gilmore has ever truly run in an advantaged spot in his entire career. What exactly was he doing in the 6.5f Amsterdam Stakes? In his 9 career starts, all of which did not necessarily coincide with anything in his chart, this horse still managed to hit the board in all but one race.

Now he enters a 9f race, on fast dirt, both factors that coincide beautifully for his breeding. Prior to the threat of this windy storm, Gilmore appeared to be set for an explosion on this track. Back to his West Coast days that he has never seen all this time. With the storm, his prominent non-chefs give him footing in the rain, his chefs and mares give him the stamina to fight against adverse winds. It would be very surprising to see him actually win this race based on his "inexperience on the proper track and at the proper distance" but he is at least afforded the opportunity finally. Could be part of the mix with things aligning for him. Worth a shot in there at the odds he'll probably end up with. This horse has been running on the wrong surfaces and way below his optimum.

Magic Tap

DP = 4-11-12-1-0 (28) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.64 ANZ = 3.00

Mare Profile = 10-3-4-7-5 Speed = 13 Stamina = 12 Index = 1.29 Triads = 17-14-16

He has the speed side through the mares and the stamina side through his chefs, with Tapit thrown in as well. His maiden was a flop because it was obviously too short for him. Three consecutive successful performances as he upgrades each time. He had a late start in life but that doesn't mean that he's hindered by that. He's in his growth phase and he's making a very nice show of it. There is no legitimate reason to suggest that he will decline at this point. He jumps into the Graded Stakes Pond, skipping Grade 3 and 2, but in reality, not one horse on this field has ever walked into a Graded Stakes Winners Circle. A couple came very close, but failed none-the-less. He has the correct form, style and breeding for the anticipated conditions. With a stormy race, that's really all that matters.

Saudi Crown

DP = 2-5-3-0-0 (10) DI = 5.67 CD = 0.90 ANZ = 9.67

Mare Profile = 6-7-2-7-6 Speed = 13 Stamina = 13 Index = 1.00 Triads = 15-16-15

Forte is the one who was built perfectly for this race. This horse ran right with him on the exact same sloppy bias at the exact same distance. He's obviously the one to beat. The only twist that could affect his total annihilation of this field is the wind or a very deep and tiring muddy surface which could beat him down substantially.

Does he capitalize with it at his back, or does it hinder him head on right from the gate? Does the rain leave the track slick and conducive to him or does it turn into deep and tiring mud? How will it affect the entire field? How harsh will the conditions be?

These questions cannot be answered. This race, which is usually one of the easiest to untangle every year, has turned into a complete crapshoot. Like I said above, gamble this one at your own risk.


bottom of page