Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby 2023 Analysis

Reincarnate wins the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park (Benoit Photo)

By Jarrod Horak

The Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby will be run at Parx on Saturday, Sept. 23. Eleven sophomore males are scheduled to compete in the Grade 1, $1 million contest at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, and Reincarnate is the 3-1 morning line favorite. I will look at the Digest pace ratings and final time ratings, rank the contenders first to last, and share my wagering strategies below.   

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Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby – Sept. 23 – Race 13 – 1 1/8 miles dirt

1 – Modern Era (50-1) – Patrick Henry Jr. 

2 – Dreamlike (10-1) – Irad Ortiz Jr. 

3 – Saudi Crown (7-2) – Florent Geroux

4 – Magic Tap (5-1) – Tyler Gaffalione

5 – Scotland (6-1) – Junior Alvarado

6 – Daydreaming Boy (12-1) – Dexter Haddock

7 – West Coast Cowboy (12-1) – Tyler Conner

8 – Gilmore (10-1) – John Velazquez

9 – Crupi (12-1) – Rider TBA

10 – Il Miracolo (8-1) – Rider TBA

11 Reincarnate (3-1) – Juan Hernandez


Today’s Racing Digest Pace Ratings – Most Representative Line

Scotland – 161 (Curlin – 9f – July 21)

Magic Tap – 149 (Alw – 9f – Aug. 13)

Saudi Crown – 138 (G2 Jim Dandy – 9f – July 29)

West Coast Cowboy – 138 (Iowa Derby – July 8)

Il Miracolo – 134 (G3 Smarty Jones – Aug. 22)

Gilmore – 132 (G1 Woody Stephens – 7f – June 10)

Reincarnate – 129 (Los Al Derby – 9f – July 8)

Dreamlike – 126 (Alw – 9f – Aug. 13)

Crupi – 122 (MSW – 8.5f – July 7)

Daydreaming Boy – 108 (G3 Smarty Jones – 8.5f – Aug. 22)

Modern Era – 87 (MSW – 1 mile 70 yds –  Sept. 3)

This was a tough pace line to get a handle on. Horses are shipping from multiple venues and recent wet track form is sprinkled in. Scotland ended up as the top pace horse with a 161 but the two favorites have bettered that rating before. Bill Mott’s Good Magic gelding is versatile and can be placed anywhere. Magic Tap was forwardly placed in all three dirt routes and earned similar pace ratings each time. Saudi Crown set a controlled tempo in the Jm Dandy and got a 186 in the Dwyer. He stalked in his bow and set the pace in his last three starts. West Coast Cowboy and Il Miracolo figure to stalk the pace. Gilmore should be patiently handled under John Velazquez. Reincarnate almost has to be forwardly placed from the far outside post. He earned a 173 pace rating in the Sham and a 179 in the Kentucky Derby. He was all over the pace in his three wins, and Juan Hernandez will use his speed to secure a good early position. I can see him making the lead in a race with some early foot but no real speed burners. 

Today’s Racing Digest Final Ratings – Most Representative Line

Il Miracolo – 155 (G3 Smarty Jones – 8.5f – Aug. 22)

Reincarnate – 147 (Los Al Derby – 9f – July 8)

Saudi Crown – 147 (G3 Dwyer – 8f – July 1)

Scotland – 147 (Curlin – 9f – July 21)

Daydreaming Boy – 140 (G3 Smarty Jones – 8.5f – Aug. 22)

Dreamlike – 138 (MSW – 9f – July 14)

Gilmore – 138 (G1 Woody Stephens – 7f – June 10)

Magic Tap – 134 (Alw – 9f – Aug. 13)

West Coast Cowboy – 134 (Iowa Derby – 8.5f – July 8)

Crupi – 120 (MSW – 8.5f – July 7)

Modern Era – 102 (MSW – 1 mile 70 yds – Sept. 3)

Il Miracolo garnered the best recent number in the local prep for the PA Derby, and he has tactical speed and is getting better. He can be played at 8-1 but I still have a nagging feeling that he is a cut below the top contenders in this race. Reincarnate probably deserves to be the favorite but the bettors will most likely side with Saudi Crown. He ran well in all of his stakes starts except the Ky Derby, and he was cooked on a fast pace that day. The $775k Good Magic colt ran his fastest race yet in the Los Al Derby and has had plenty of time to recover from that race. He is training forwardly for this and is a solid win contender if he breaks clearly and gets a good forwardly placed trip from the outside post. Saudi Crown should have won the Jim Dandy in the slop. The field was short and he was dictating terms, but he drifted out badly in the lane and gave Forte every chance to get him. He is lightly raced and still has upside but I am not sure he is a true route horse. We will find out more about him in this race. Scotland can compete for the win if he runs back to his Curlin number. He crashed back to earth in the Travers, but that below par effort may have been caused by a muddy track at 1 1/4 miles against seasoned Triple Crown Series runners. The only other horse I view as a viable win contender is Magic Tap. He is not as fast as the top four win candidates but is lightly raced and still has upside. Steve Asmussen’s $450k Tapit colt should impact the pace. Gilmore is the one I would like to get somewhere underneath at a price. He earned minor awards in the stakes ranks on four occasions and got a confidence boosting win at one mile last time. 

Jarrod’s PA Derby Picks (first to last)

1st – Reincarnate

2nd – Scotland

3rd – Saudi Crown

4th – Il Miracolo

5th – Gilmore

6th – Magic Tap

7th – Daydreaming Boy

8th – Dreamlike

9th – West Coast Cowboy

10th – Crupi

11th – Modern Era

Jarrod’s PA Derby Wagers

#11 to win

Exacta Box 5-11

Trifecta 5-11/3-5-10-11/3-4-5-8-10-11

Trifecta 3-4-5-10-11/3-4-5-10-11/8