- Two $1 million events take place within an hour Saturday at Parx Racing outside of Philadelphia
- The Grade 1 Cotillion features Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath while several Triple Crown participants are in the G1 Pennsylvania Derby
- How do we find betting value Saturday in the Keystone State in our Parx Racing picks?
The two biggest horse races of the year in Pennsylvania take place Saturday near Philadelphia. Top three-year-old fillies compete in the Grade 1 $1 million Cotillion Stakes, while their male counterparts go at it for seven figures in the G1 Pennsylvania Derby.
Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath leads the nine-horse Cotillion field going a mile-and-a-sixteenth. Haskell winner Cyberknife has a re-match with Taiba, Zandon, and eight others in the Penn Derby over a mile-and-an-eighth.
Big purses bring deep and talented fields. Many of the horses running Saturday in Pennsylvania will be making their final start before a trip to the Breeders Cup which could greatly affect their Breeders’ Cup Classic odds.
Let’s look at the fields, assess their chances, and see where we can find wagering value for our Parx Racing picks.
2022 Cotillion Odds
|Goddess of Fire||+500|
Odds as of September 21
Temperatures on Saturday are expected to be around 70 degrees with very little chance of rain. The Cotillion, with Secret Oath favored in the odds above, is slated to begin at 5:20 pm ET, and the Pennsylvania Derby will run shortly after 6:00 pm. FanDuel TV will provide coverage.
Trainer Steve Asmussen has won the Cotillion a record four times, including twice in the last three years. He sends out Society on Saturday.
Cotillion Stakes Contenders
In what seemed at the time, and to a large degree continues to look like a very strong Kentucky Oaks field, Secret Oath was the belle of the ball.
Though she has not won since that magical day at Churchill Downs, the competition has been significant. Against boys in the Preakness Stakes, Secret Oath got out poorly and finished a decent fourth. Her last two races have been runner-up efforts against Nest, who is the strong favorite to be Champion Three Year Old Filly this year.
Adare Manor ran two huge races in California last winter. Then trainer Bob Baffert had to allow other conditioners to run her because of his suspension. Things didn’t go as well. She finished second in the Santa Anita Oaks and second in the Black Eyed Susan Stakes. Baffert is back for her first start since May.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has Green Up, Goddess of Fire, and Shahama. Green Up is stepping up in class but has won four straight races including an impressive, dominating, fast win against lesser competition at Parx a month ago. Goddess of Fire has just one career win, and finished two lengths behind Secret Oath, and third overall in the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga in August. Shahama has improved since running eighth in the Kentucky Oaks. She was second behind Gerrymander in the Mother Goose Stakes and won a Grade 3 test at Monmouth Park in late July.
Asmussen watched Society go from getting dominated by Nest and Secret Oath in the Coaching Club American Oaks, to a dominating performance in West Virginia last time out.
If Society duplicates that performance, she could score at a big price.
Chad Brown sends out Gerrymander. She didn’t look comfortable and ran poorly in the Alabama, finishing fifth behind Nest, Secret Oath, and Goddess of Fire. Her win over Shahama in the Mother Goose was strong, and that was at the same distance as they are running on Saturday.
Cotillion Pick: Secret Oath
The price is very reasonable for far and away the most accomplished runner. In her last eight races Secret Oath has four wins, twice has lost to boys, and has been the runner-up to Nest in her last two tries. There are viable alternatives, but going her favorite distance, Secret Oath should appreciate not facing male rivals, or the ultra-tough Nest and is our Cotillion best bet.
Pick: Secret Oath (+200)
2022 Pennsylvania Derby Odds
|We the People||+1200|
Next up is the Penn Derby with Taiba listed as the +250 favorite closely followed by Cyberknife at +300.
Baffert is seeking his record fourth win in the Penn Derby. Bayern ran the quickest time in race history for him in 2014. Baffert added back-to-back triumphs with West Coast and McKinzie in 2017 and 2018.
Pennsylvania Derby Top Contenders
Taiba cost $1.7 million and didn’t race until March. He was so fast in his debut, with Baffert out, Tim Yakteen gave him a chance in May’s Santa Anita Derby.
That effort earned him a spot in the Kentucky Derby. He ran poorly. More than two months later, with Baffert back, Taiba returned in the Haskell Stakes.
It looked like Taiba was going to win, but Cyberknife ran huge. Was Cyberknife better, or did Taiba move early? Was Taiba compromised by Jack Christopher’s early speed?
Cyberknife, has won four of his last six. He was a non-factor in the Kentucky Derby, and last time out was second best against Epicenter in the Travers Stakes.
While Epicenter was much the best in the Travers, Cyberknife and Zandon ran to a virtual draw.
Zandon has just two career victories, but never runs poorly. After winning the Blue Grass Stakes, he finished third, less than a length behind Epicenter in the Kentucky Derby. He was the runner-up to Epicenter, beaten by a length-and-a-half in the Jim Dandy Stakes, before finishing third in the Travers.
White Abarrio seemed to peak in April. Since the Florida Derby his best effort was a second-place finish in the Ohio Derby. He wasn’t competitive in the Haskell.
Tawny Port won the Ohio Derby. He was third in the Jim Dandy, more than four lengths behind Zandon.
Skippylongstocking ran the race of his life in the West Virginia Derby. He’ll need to repeat that to compete on Saturday.
Pennsylvania Derby Pick: Zandon
It is possible that Taiba or Cyberknife are better than Zandon, but the margin doesn’t seem like it is much. Zandon and Cyberknife ran to a virtual draw behind Epicenter last time out. Taiba is a total wildcard, who just missed against Cyberknife in July. Zandon offers significant betting value for our Penn Derby picks.
Pick: Zandon (+500)