BENSALEM, Pa. – Three of the top contenders in Saturday’s $1 million, Grade I Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing will be able to keep an eye on each other. Hot Rod Charlie, Midnight Bourbon and Medina Spirit will line up side-by-side-by-side when the gates open for the 1 1/8 mile race, the centerpiece of the 13-race card.
Road Runner Racing, William Strauss, Boat Racing and Gainesway Stables’ Hot Rod Charlie was assigned post position seven at the Monday afternoon draw, which attracted 10 3-year-olds. Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Midnight Bourbon is right next door in post position eight and Zedan Racing Stables’ Medina Spirit drew the nine.
Those are the top three choices on the Pennsylvania Derby morning line. Medina Spirit, who is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, is the 2-1 morning line favorite and is coming off a win in the $100,000 Shared Belief at Del Mar on Aug. 29. Earlier this year, the son of Protonico won the Kentucky Derby and was third in the Preakness.
“They have all the heavyweights right next to each other,” Baffert said. “Once they draw, we don’t worry about it. The break is important no matter what post they have.”
Hot Rod Charlie, the 5-2 second choice on the morning line, crossed the finish line first in the Grade I, $1 million Haskell at Monmouth in his last start on July 17, but was disqualified and placed last after Midnight Bourbon clipped heels with him.
“It’s a lucky number. I like seven,” Hot Rod Charlie’s trainer Doug O’Neill said about his post. “With a mile and an eighth race on a mile track like that, there is probably not real bad post. No matter where we are, everyone just wants to get in those doors and get a good, clean break.” Midnight Bourbon is third on the morning line at 5-1. He is trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen and will be ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. When last seen Midnight Bourbon finished second in the Grade I, $1 million Travers at Saratoga, beaten by a neck by Essential Quality, the leader of the 3-year-old division
Keepmeinmind, owned by Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith and Spendthrift Farm LLC, will be coming to Parx after running against Essential Quality twice at Saratoga. He was second to him in the Grade II, $600,000 Jim Dandy on July 31 and fourth in the Travers. Trained by Robertino Diodoro and ridden by Joel Rosario, Keepmeinmind will be looking for his second career win in his 12th start. He is 8-1 on the morning line.
Four horses are coming into the race with morning line odds of 12-1: Calumet Farm’s Bourbonic, third in the Grade III, $500,000 West Virginia Derby in his last start, Juddmonte Farm’s Fulsome, winner of the Grade III Smarty Jones at Parx on Aug. 24, Godolphin LLC’s Speaker’s Corner, an allowance winner at Saratoga in his first start of 2021 at Saratoga on Aug. 14 and Chiefswood Stables Limited’s Weyburn, fourth in the Jim Dandy when last seen.
The other two horses in the field are WinStar Farms and China Horse Club Inc’s Americanrevolution, winner of three straight races against New York-breds, including the $250,000 Albany Stakes on Saratoga on Aug. 27 and the locally based I Am Redeemed, owned by Lawrence A. Rebbecchi Jr. He has won three of four career starts at Parx.
Here is the Pennsylvania Derby field, in post-position order, with trainer, jockey and morning line odds:
1. Fulsome, Brad Cox, Florent Geroux 12-1
2. Keepmeinmind, Robertino Diodoro, Joel Rosario, 8-1
3. Speaker’s Corner, Bill Mott, Jose Ortiz, 12-1
4. Weyburn, Jimmy Jerkens, Paco Lopez, 12-1
5. I Am Redeemed, Penny Pearce, Abner Adorno, 20-1
6. Bourbonic, Todd Pletcher, Kendrick Carmouche, 12-1
7. Hot Rod Charlie, Doug O’Neill, Flavien Prat, 5-2
8. Midnight Bourbon, Steve Asmussen, Ricardo Santana Jr., 5-1
9. Medina Spirit, Bob Baffert, John Velazquez, 2-1
10. Americanrevolution, Todd Pletcher, Luis Saez, 15-1.
By Tim Wilkin/Parx Press Office
Update: Medina Spirit has been scratched and is now scheduled to run in the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita
Photo: Pennsylvania Derby contender Hot Rod Charlie with exercise rider Johnny Garcia gallops on the track with at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pennsylvania on Tuesday morning 9/21/21. Hot Rod Charlie will take on 9 other three-year-olds in the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx racing on Saturday September 25th. By Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO