07/02/2013 12:02PM

Dick Jerardi: Parx Dash rematches 1-2-3 finishers from Pennsylvania Governor's Cup

Tom Keyser
Tightend Touchdown, front-running winner of the Pennsylvania Governor's Cup, will try to prove his 105 Beyer Speed Figure performance was no fluke in Friday's Parx Dash Handicap.

Was Tightend Touchdown really as good as he looked when he won the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup at Penn National? What would have gone down that evening if Ben’s Cat had not been taken out nearly to the outer rail on the backstretch of the turf course? Would anything have mattered because Tightend Touchdown won by 5 1/2 lengths and missed the five-furlong course record by a hundredth of a second?

Some of those questions will be answered Friday at Parx Racing when they run the Grade 3, $200,000 Parx Dash Handicap. Tightend Touchdown, Bridgetown, and Ben’s Cat, 1-2-3 at Penn on June 1, are the stars of the seven-horse field running five furlongs on the grass.

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Ben’s Cat won the Parx Dash and the Turf Monster at Parx last year. The amazing 7-year-old Ben’s Cat, with 21 wins in 32 starts, is closing on $1.5 million in earnings. Bridgetown was second to Ben’s Cat in the Parx Dash last year and is closing on $1 million. Tightend Touchdown is a new player in the grass sprint game and, judging by that last performance, a very serious player.

Even with all the rain, they will try very hard to run the run the race on grass.

“It’s supposed to be like it was last week, a chance of a thunderstorm every night the rest of the week,’’ said Sal Sinatra, Parx’s director of racing.

There is a lot of early speed in the race with Wild Memories, Tightend Touchdown, Bridgetown, and Luckysdream (whose speed is all on the main track). Whether any of that speed can hang with Tightend Touchdown is the question. If the pace is too quick and contested, you just know Ben’s Cat will be coming in the stretch.

“I never saw Ben’s Cat close,’’ said Sinatra, who was at Penn National for the race. “I was down on the apron. When that horse pushed him and Chamberlain Bridge out, I just thought he was cooked. I was just shocked Ben’s Cat even hit the board. ’’

It really was hard to separate how fast Tightend Touchdown ran at the start from how fast Ben’s Cat ran at the finish.

We may see this same group again on Labor Day at Parx for the $350,000 Turf Monster. Then, on Sept. 21, it is the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby, the $1 million Cotillion, and the $300,000 Gallant Bob. Sinatra points out that early closing for the Sept. 21 races is Saturday with $250 for the Pa. Derby and Cotillion and $100 for the Gallant Bob necessary to reserve a spot at this stage.

Delaware Handicap on the horizon

The post draw for the Grade I Delaware Handicap will be July 17 at Delaware Park. The race will be on July 20. Track officials are hoping that defending champion Royal Delta will be back to try for a repeat. Indications at this point are that trainer Bill Mott is pointing for the race, even though Royal Delta ran far below her normal standards at Churchill Downs in the Fleur de Lis, her first start since Dubai.

Todd Beattie one away from 1,500 wins

Todd Beattie has been one of the top percentage trainers at Penn National for years. When he ships out of town, he still wins at a high percentage. When he had a really good horse, he shipped Fabulous Strike around and won really big races. As June ended, he was one win from 1,500. His 2013 is fairly typical, 31 for 107 (29 percent).

Lucy’s Bob Boy to leave town

Charles Town star Lucy’s Bob Boy, winner of 13 races with 3 seconds from 16 starts at his home track, is scheduled to make his first out-of-town start Saturday in the Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park.

Is the West Virginia-bred a product of weak competition or a legitimate horse who can compete at a higher level? The Salvator should be quite revealing on both counts.

Hamilton Smith still winning

Trainer Hamilton Smith is atop the Colonial Downs standings and just got win No. 1,700. Back in the day, he used to bring ready-to-win 2-year-olds out of South Carolina to Pimlico every spring. One year, he went one better than that. He brought a ready-to-win jockey with him from South Carolina. That was Chris Antley.