December 2014 Issue - page 4

Page 4
December 2014
PENNSYLVANIA EQUESTRIAN
PA Derby Day Winners Repeat Success at Breeder’s Cup
by Terry Conway
It was a game of catch him
if you can. In a reprise of the $1
Million Pennsylvania Derby, Bob
Baffert trainee Bayern shot out
of the gate to grab the lead and
hung on to win the $5 Million
Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa
Anita Park on November 1. The
day before, Untapable, the 2014
Parx Cotillion Stakes winner,
scored a convincing victory in the
Breeders' Cup Distaff.
Parx racetrack brass must
have been grinning like Cheshire
cats.
Back in 2010 Parx Chief
Operating Officer Joe Wilson and
other executives officials decided
to move the PA Derby from its
existing Labor Day date to later
in September, a month after the
Travers Stakes in Saratoga and
six weeks prior to the Breeders'
Cup Classic. A year later they
also tacked on a major bonus--
$200,000 to the connections
of any horse who won a Triple
Crown race, the Haskell or the
Travers to run in the PA Derby.
The race has been televised by the
Philly NBC affiliate since 2011.
In addition, in 2012 the $1
Million Cotillion Stakes was
moved to PA Derby Day to create
a "mega-event" for Parx. In year
five the "Great Switch" hit a
booming home run.
On a dazzling final Saturday
of summer (September 20), the
parking lot was overflowing at
the Bensalem track as a large
and raucous crowd turned out to
witness California Chrome and
Haskell winner Bayern battle in
the PA Derby. It was the biggest
racing day in the 40-year history
of Parx (once known Key-
stone and then as Philadelphia
Park) as well as in the history
of Pennsylvania horse racing.
Thirty minutes prior to the PA
Derby, Kentucky Oaks winner
and odds-on favorite Untapable
powered home in the Cotillion
Stakes.
The total betting handle at
the track and around the country
was a stunning $10,393,671,
crushing the previous track han-
dle by $5 million. More than $3
million was wagered on the PA
Derby, an impressive 300 percent
leap over 2013.
Racing fans also got to see a
track record fall in the PA Derby,
a record that was set less than a
month after the track opened on
November 4, 1974. Selari Spirit
ran a mile and an eighth in 1:47
on November 30, 1974. This year
Haskell winner Bayern uncorked
a time of 1:46.96 for the 1 1/8
mile race, running his rivals off
their feet and winning by 5 3/4
lengths.
"That was just a powerful
performance," said Baffert. "He
broke well and they let us go
and [jockey] Martin [Garcia]
hustled to get away from Cali-
fornia Chrome. When California
Chrome was pinned in there, I
knew it was going be tough for
California Chrome. He was the
target, we weren't the target.
When Bayern runs like that, no-
body's going to beat him."
In 2012 the Travers dead-
heat winners (Alpha and Golden
Ticket) traveled to Bucks County
to run in the PA Derby. Another
top colt, Handsome Mike, took
the race. Last year, the top two
runners in another Travers pho-
to-finish (Will Take Charge and
Moreno) came to Parx. Will Take
Charge won the PA Derby, but
six weeks later lost by a short
head to Mucho Macho Man in
the 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic.
Will Take Charge became the
first Pennsylvania Derby winner
to be named champion 3-year-
old male.
After the season wraps up in
December, racing's graded stakes
committee evaluates the status of
existing stakes race. A few go up,
others go down. After attracting
the eventual 3-year-old champion
male, the Derby and Preakness
winner and possible Horse of
the Year (Bayern or California
Chrome) in three consecutive
years, the odds are that the PA
Derby will join the Cotillion as a
Grade-1 race in 2015.
Note: Parx COO Joe Wilson
did not respond to phone calls
seeking comment on this story.
Main Sequence:
Brilliant in BC Turf
He came. He saw. He con-
quered. And then some.
Since arriving at trainer
Graham Motion’s stable from
England last winter, Main
Sequence is a perfect four-for-
four. He capped off his brilliant
season in the Grade 1 Breeders'
Cup Turf by rallying wide and
storming down the stretch to take
the lead in the final sixteenth
and to hold off the stubborn Brit
Flintshire to win the 1 1/2 mile
race in 2:24.91. The victory was
his fourth consecutive Grade-1
triumph.
“I was going so good,”
jockey John Velazquez said. “My
concern was getting the horse to
the lead too early.”
“I thought at the top of the
stretch he would win,” Motion
added. “It all worked out so
well. The only question was
whether he got to the front too
early.”
A5-year-old gelding, Main
Sequence is owned by the Niarchos
(Continued on page 27)
Main Sequence, shown winning the $550,000 United Nations Stakes
at Monmouth Park in July, won the Breeder’s Cup Turf, his fourth
consecutive Grade-1 victory. The record locked up the Eclipse award
for outstanding turf horse and makes him a strong contender for
2014 Horse of the Year.
1,2,3 5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,...36
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