A major showdown in the 3-year-old division awaits racing fans this Saturday, as the top three finishers from the Kentucky Derby face one another once again in the Pennsylvania Derby. Also on the card, top sophomore filly Songbird will take on what may be her toughest test yet in the Cotillion.
Up first on Saturday is the G3 Durham, in which Are You Kidding Me will take on Up With The Birds over nine furlongs on Woodbine's Tapeta. The Sovereign Award-winning Are You Kidding Me has finished second in his last two starts, and is slightly favored over Up With The Birds, who finished just behind Are You Kidding Me in the Sky Classic last out.
At Laurel Park, a field of 11 sophomore fillies will line up for the G3 Commonwealth Oaks over nine furlongs on the turf. Leading the field is the Christophe Clement-trained Stella Rose, winner of an allowance race last out at Saratoga. Her main competition appears to be the Chad Brown-trained, graded stakes-winning duo of Pricedtoperfection and Noble Beauty.
In Laurel's G2 Commonwealth Turf Cup, Force the Pass will take on a full field of 11 others over a mile on the turf. The Alan Goldberg trainee is taking a step down in company from the G1 Fourstardave, where he recently finished fifth. Blacktype, trained by Christophe Clement, won Monmouth's G3 Oceanport last out in his first graded win, and is carrying a two-race win streak into this race.
In the G2 Commonwealth Derby at Laurel, a field of 10 sophomores will contest nine furlongs on the turf. Leading the group is the Todd Pletcher-trained American Patriot, a son of War Front who was third in the G1 Secretariat at Arlington last out, beaten less than a length for everything. His main competition comes from Isotherm, exiting top competition at Saratoga in his last several starts for trainer George Weaver.
Kicking off the graded action at Parx is the G3 Gallant Bob, in which top Canadian-based sprinter Noholdingback Bear takes on a field of 12 over six furlongs. The Michael De Paulo trainee has earned multiple graded placings, including a third in the G1 King's Bishop last out. Chad Brown will send out Threefiveindia, winner of a pair of allowance starts in his last two starts, and Mind Your Biscuits, fifth in the King's Bishop, rounds out the top competitors in the field.
Back at Woodbine, the G3 Colleen Stakes features 10 sophomore fillies over a mile on the turf. Leading the field is Chad Brown's undefeated Ancient Secret, winner of his first graded win last out at Saratoga. Ontario-breds Caren and Shake Down Baby are both listed stakes winners seeking their first graded wins in the Colleen.
Up next at Parx, Songbird will take on Cathryn Sophia and Carina Mia in the G1, $1 million Cotillion. Songbird is undefeated in 10 lifetime starts, but if the speedy Carina Mia presses her early on, Kentucky Oaks-winning Cathryn Sophia may be able to pose a challenge late in the 1 1/16 mile contest.
In Belmont's G3 Noble Damsel, fillies and mares will compete over one mile on the turf, led by the Chad Brown-trained Mrs MacDougal. She finished seventh last out in the G1 Diana, but prior to that was placed in G1 Just a Game. Her main competition appears to come from stakes-winning stablemate Zindaya.
Back at Parx, Nyquist will take on Exaggerator and Gun Runner in the $1.25 million Pennsylvania Derby. Exaggerator's dry-track form leaves his performance in question, and Nyquist is coming back from what his trainer termed a growth spurt and a layoff, and Gun Runner was most recently third in the Travers Stakes. In a race that has major implications in the year-end championships, the full field of 12 is open to be upset by an outsider. Bob Baffert is shipping in Indiana and West Virginia Derby winner Cupid, Chad Brown will send out stakes winner Connect, and the Rudy Rodriguez-trained Summer Revolution has been showing good form in recent sprint races.
In the Los Alamitos Derby, at nine furlongs over the dirt, the John Sadler-trained Accelerate holds favoritism on the morning line over eight sophomores based on his recent win in the Shared Belief Stakes.
On Sunday, sophomores will line up for the Oklahoma Derby (G3) at Remington Park, led by the talented Texas Chrome, winner of the Super Derby just two weeks ago. Fish Trappe Road will be his main competition, stretching out to nine furlongs after a sixth-place effort in the King's Bishop.
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