09/16/2016 12:56PM

Big names coming for Pennsylvania Derby, Cotillion

Emily Shields
Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist (above) and Preakness winner Exaggerator will meet in the Pennsylvania Derby.

The Pennsylvania Derby and the Cotillion, which top the biggest card of the year at Parx Racing next Saturday, are coming up as must-see events, with Nyquist and Exaggerator on target for the Derby and a salty group of at least four expected to take on the undefeated Songbird in the Cotillion.

The Grade 2 Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race, will have a purse of $1.25 million if both Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and Preakness winner Exaggerator start. The Grade 1 Cotillion is worth $1 million and will be run at 1 1/16 miles.

The undercard includes the Grade 3, $300,000 Gallant Bob, a six-furlong stakes for 3-year-olds; the $150,000 Champion Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up; and the $100,000 Alphabet Soup, a turf race for statebreds. Entries will be taken Monday.

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Nyquist is in training at San Luis Rey Downs in California and has worked a mile on each of the last three Saturdays for trainer Doug O’Neill.

Exaggerator is based at Churchill Downs. Although Exaggerator has not worked since his 11th-place finish in the Travers, trainer Keith Desormeaux said Thursday via text that he planned to breeze him five furlongs Saturday, and if all went well, he would run in the Pennsylvania Derby.

As of Friday, a field of nine was in the making for the Derby. The field was expected to include three-time Grade 2 winner Cupid, Travers third-place finisher Gun Runner, and Awesome Slew, the runaway winner of the recent Grade 3 Smarty Jones at Parx.

The other probable starters are Hit It Once More, who enters off two impressive stakes wins over New York-breds, Summer Revolution, Sunny Ridge, and Wild About Deb.

Songbird is scheduled to arrive at Parx from Southern California on Monday. Owned by Rick Porter and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, last year’s 2-year-old filly champion is now 10 for 10. She has worked three times since returning to California following her momentous victories in the Alabama and Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga.

Three Grade 1 winners and a Grade 2 winner are lined up to face Songbird. They are Cathryn Sophia, who won the Kentucky Oaks in May; Carina Mia, who won the Acorn in June; Paola Queen, the winner of the Test at Saratoga; and Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks winner Land Over Sea, who finished second in the Oaks.