Pennsylvania Derby 2021

Even with the scratch of Medina Spirit I think the Grade 1 Pa Derby came up a nice race with some serious racehorses in there. The Medina Spirit scratch changed the pace factor quite a bit, but the race is still a nice one and give Parx their due for putting together a nice card with a strong anchor.

Hot Rod Charlie is now the likely favorite and I would have to say a deserving one. Freshened since his Haskell gutty win and subsequent disqualification he has been pointed for this and appears to be blossoming. His works in the morning are stellar and it is completely logical to think he has matured and gotten better this deep into his three-year old season. He running style lends to good trips and his rider Flavien Prat is pushing all the right buttons lately. All that said they still must run the race, and this is not a walkover.

Parx can be a quirky surface. I have seen it play good and bad to speed and on the inside and the outside. I think it is a racetrack you should watch early on the card and get a feel for.

Fulsome breaks from the rail under have saddle will travel Florent Geroux. He is what I would call a late comer to the three-year old party and will benefit from a fast or contested pace. He won the Smarty Jones, the local prep for this so we know he handles or likes the track. He is trained by Brad Cox and won his only try at this distance.

Keepmeinmind has run some big races but always seems to run into someone faster or just has trouble sealing the deal. I tend to avoid those types of horses in the absence of something I view as a significant change or an ideal set up. I see neither on Saturday in Pennsylvania.

Speaker’s Corner is very intriguing to me. This is an ambitious spot for sure, but this colt always showed promise if not outright talent and was hyped enough off “something” to go off odds-on in his debut even being trained by Bill Mott. He will go long and two turns for the first time on this stretch-out but if he is anywhere near the 12-1 morning line, I would be hard pressed not to consider him a real upset possibility. I don’t think Bill Mott would throw him to the wolves if he didn’t think he deserved a chance.

Weyburn looks a cut below the tougher and faster ones in here. He should be close to the pace and is close enough to the good ones to have a shot I just think he is not quite up to winning this. That said if he did, I’d be far from shocked but not cashing any tickets.

I Am Redeemed is the local hope and they sometimes win. This PA bred would be a big surprise and upset. I don’t see it happening. He is improving, but class wise this is a whole different ballpark.

Bourbonic is a deep closer. The more pace and the more contested pace the better for this winner of the Wood Memorial. He will have a lot of work to do but gets a better set-up than he has had in a while. He’ll need plenty of help to make it happen here, but he may get it. With his style he is an outsider but not without a punchers chance.

As aforementioned Hot Rod Charlie is the one to beat and it is hard to find any knock on him here except for the lack of experience at Parx. If you’re superstitious I know a true mush, and I mean a true mush who absolutely loves him and plans to bet him hard. Stranger things have happened, and broken clocks are right twice a day.

Midnight Bourbon had the Travers to win last time and had every chance to do it. He just could not hold off Essential Quality the best of the three-year olds this year. Hot Rod Charlie not only beat him but dropped him in the Haskell. That was then and this is now, and I think Midnight Bourbon and Ricardo Santana will make a point of being well in front of the Hot Rod early on and that could make a difference. This horse is no slouch, and he can win this. If he somehow gets left unattended with early, he becomes a very dangerous proposition. That goes up big time if the track is playing to speed. He better he can close one of these deals soon.

Americanrevolution is beating up on New York breds pretty good. He has a nice style for this, and we don’t really know if he knows he isn’t this good yet. Luis Saez helps his cause as does Todd Pletcher. He handled Finger Lakes just fine. He will be a nice price and I think he has a decent shot.

While Hot Rod Charlie looks very legit and hard to beat, I’ll probably take some shots against. People knock Parx and their takeout and I won’t argue that or that high takeout stinks. That said on a given day with quality racing and decent sized pools along with recreational or fun money in those pools it can be overcome if you’re right.

I’ll use Speaker’s Corner and Americanrevolution and not exactly hope for a miracle but maybe a little magic and luck. At least the prices will negate the takeout if I can stay alive into the big one.

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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