09/25/2012 1:55AM

PA Derby day 2012 - making history at Parx


Parx Racing made US history on Saturday when, for the first time other than a Breeders' Cup, a racetrack held two million-dollar events on the same card.

That remarkable feat lured some of the country's best 3-year-olds to the Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion.  It also lured us to the attractive Bensalem, PA, property for a truly enjoyable day.  Parx, and the horses, of course, put on a memorable show!  (extra credit points to anyone who can tell me...what do the initials P a r x stand for... PA (Pennsylvania) R (racing) X (casino)??)

Above:  Early in the day, 2-year-olds headed down the homestretch in the second race - Hard to Name (left), Fly Eagle Fly (center) and English Manor (rail).  And the winner was.....

Above/below:  ...Hard to Name (Hard Spun - Affluenza, by Giant's Causeway).

Above/below: John Bisono and Hard to Name return to the winner's circle, where they are greeted by winning trainer John Servis (below).

Above:  Who's having more fun: John Servis (foreground) or the dude in the background?

Above:  The start of the 5th race.

Above/below:  Ramon Dominguez guided the grey gelding Crushing to victory in the 5th race allowance.  The Giacomo gelding is trained by Chad Brown.

Above/below:  Crushing barely defeated Arlo (above), and Ramon Dominguez flashed a winning smile after the race (below).

Above/below:  A grey gelding theme continued as a fantastically-named (!) horse named Livingston Street easily won the 6th race, a starter allowance, for Winning Move Stable, Peter Walder (part-owner, and trainer), Ultra Championship Racing LLC and jockey Ramon Dominguez.  Livingston Street is a 6-year-old stakes winner by Mr. Livingston.  Go, Livingston Street!

Above:  Angel Castillo seemed to enjoy the day.

Above:  Alex Cintron looked serious, heading to the paddock.

Above/below:  Those following a theme should have bet on the grey gelding Hello Lover in the 7th.  The regal son of Not for Love dominated in the optional claiming event.

Above:  Hello Lover was near the back of the pack early in the race....

Above: ...but all alone at the finish - well, other than Irad Ortiz, Jr., that is.

Above:  Winning trainer Butch Reid enjoyed the moment.

Above:  The amiable Irad Ortiz, Jr. had one heck of an afternoon.

Above:  Hello Lover heading to the test barn.

Above:  Angel Arroyo is the leading jock at Parx this season - with 98 victories (through 9/18), vs. 77 for Frankie Pennington.

Above:  Roadhog!  Yep, this Bowman's Band gelding is named Roadhog, and he ran in the Alphabet Soup Handicap.

Above:  The start of the Alphabet Soup Handicap.

Above:  As they headed into the homestretch, Philly Ace (third from left) tracked the leaders.

Above/below:  A determined Philly Ace (#2, by Smart Strike), trained by Christophe Clement, holds off Roadhog.

Above:  Kendrick Carmouche gave Philly Ace a pat as they headed to the winner's circle.

Above:  The crowd was very upbeat for the biggest day in Parx's (formerly Philadelphia Park) history.

Above:  Trinniberg, always hard to miss with his cute red pom-pom, entering the paddock for the Gallant Bob.

Above:  Well Spelled before the Gallant Bob.

Above/below:  In the Gallant Bob, Trinniberg (rail) was run down by the Ben Perkins, Jr.-trained Well Spelled (Spellbinder - Well, by Well Decorated).

Above:  Pablo Fragoso and Well Spelled after the race.

Above:  Pablo Fragoso.

Above:  OK, so some might disagree...but I think Parx's color scheme is delightful.

Above:  The Cotillion featured only four runners, in large part due to the intimidating presence of multiple Grade I-winning Questing. 

Above:  The multiple stakes-placed filly Moment in Dixie gave it a try (Jimmy Toner, trainer)....

Above: ...as did Prince of Wales' winner Dixie Strike (Mark Casse).

Above: Steve Asmussen brought his 2011 champion juvenile filly My Miss Aurelia....

Above:  ...and Scott Blasi guided the filly before the race.

Above/below:  My Miss Aurelia, with Corey Nakatani up, looked pretty as a picture in the post parade.

Above: Questing looked great, too, under Irad Ortiz, Jr.

Above/below:  When the field broke, Questing quickly sprinted to a short lead over My Miss Aurelia.

Above:  Questing, the first time by.

Above:  My Miss Aurelia, the first time by.

Above:  My Miss Aurelia stalked Questing around the first turn.

Above/below:  Swinging into the homestretch, Questing swung very wide (did it remind anyone else of the 1980 Preakness?), but My Miss Aurelia wasn't intimidated.

Above:  And down the stretch they came in the Cotillion....in one of the best head-to-head displays of heart and determination in recent memory.


Above:  At the wire, the champion My Miss Aurelia won in a squeaker.  What a great race between two remarkably game fillies.

Above:  My Miss Aurelia and Corey Nakatani heading back to the winner's circle.

Above:  Barbara Banke and George Bolton shared a moment.

Above/below:  My Miss Aurelia and her happy connections headed into the winner's circle.

Above:  Here she is, Aurelia....part-owner George Bolton's mother.  She sure seems to enjoy her namesake.

Above: Barbara Banke's admiration for My Miss Aurelia was crystal-clear.

Above:  A joyous Corey Nakatani planted one on Steve Asmussen....

Above: ...and then chatted with the media on his way back to the jockeys' room. 

Above/below:  Scott Blasi sure seemed to enjoy the race - but didn't have long to revel in the win.

Above:  Scott was back to work for the next race, the Pennsylvania Derby, with the Steve Asmussen-trained Macho Macho.  Asmussen is at right, and Corey Nakatani was the rider.

Above:  Macho Macho, the West Virginia Derby winner, looked great in the paddock.  He ran second.

Above:  These ladies made no secret of their PA Derby choice.

Above:  Alpha also looked ready to run.  Kiaran McLaughlin's brother Neal (blue tie) and Ramon Dominguez are at right.

Above:  Handsome Mike came into the race under the radar.  The handsome dark bay Scat Daddy colt, usually trained by Doug O'Neill, ran for O'Neill's assistant trainer Leandro Mora.

Above:  Man, oh man, did it get dark just before the Derby - which did not please photographers.  The first time past, the photo shows Macho Macho, Golden Ticket, Alpha, Handsome Mike and Stephanoatsee (Stephanoatsee, by the way, is Shackleford's - and Lady Joanne's - little brother).

Above:  The first time by, Irad Ortiz kept a hold on Handsome Mike.

Above:  The final turn - Csaba, Golden Ticket, Handsome Mike, Alpha and Stephanoatsee.

Above:  By the time they entered the homestretch, Irad was swinging Handsome Mike past Alpha.

Above:  Handsome Mike rolled home to a two-length victory - and paid $40.40 for the win.

Above:  Golden Ticket, with David Cohen up, ran third.

Above:  The two deadheating Travers' winners - Alpha, left, and Golden Ticket, right - are unsaddled after their 6th- and 3rd-place finishes, respectively.

Above/below:  Handsome Mike, without his blinkers and draped in red carnations, is a handsome sight as he is led to the winner's circle.

Above/below:  Irad Ortiz had a very good day.

Above:   Congratulations to all of the day's winners - and thanks to Parx Racing, including Keith Jones and Kim Pratt, for their kind assistance. 

What a great day at the track!

2012 Pennsylvania Derby: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dw-Ky65j7LQ

2012 Cotillion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2LO7VclgR4