09/19/2016 1:06PM

Nyquist, Exaggerator among 12 entered in Pennsylvania Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Exaggerator, shown training last month at Saratoga, drew post 2 for the Pennsylvania Derby.

With the 3-year-old male division extremely tight at the top, a pivotal matchup will take place at Parx Racing on Saturday when Nyquist and Exaggerator meet in the $1.25 million Pennsylvania Derby. The card also will showcase the undefeated champion Songbird in the Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion.

On Monday, Nyquist drew post 9 and Exaggerator post 2 when 12 were entered in the Grade 2, 1 1/8-mile Pennsylvania Derby. As usual, Mario Gutierrez will be aboard Nyquist for trainer Doug O’Neill, and Kent Desormeaux will ride Exaggerator for his brother, Keith.

Both horses are expected to arrive at Parx on Wednesday, Nyquist from California and Exaggerator from Kentucky. Although it was raining in the Northeast on Monday morning, dry weather is forecast for the rest of the week, with temperatures Saturday expected to top out in the low 80s.

The unexpectedly large field is a result not only of the race’s purse but also because Nyquist has been beaten in his last two starts, the Haskell Invitational and Preakness, and Exaggerator is coming off an 11th-place finish in the Travers.

This will be the seventh meeting between the pair, with Nyquist having finished ahead of Exaggerator in four of their six previous encounters, including the Kentucky Derby and San Vicente Stakes this season. Exaggerator has taken the last two rounds, however, having won the Preakness and Haskell, races in which Nyquist finished third and fourth when favored.

While Nyquist and Exaggerator are locked in a tight divisional battle, Arrogate, who is going straight to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, is not far behind following his off-the-charts victory in the Travers for trainer Bob Baffert.

Other top contenders in the Pennsylvania Derby are Cupid (post 5), who has won the West Virginia Derby and Indiana Derby for Baffert; Gun Runner (post 7), who finished third in the Travers for Steve Asmussen; Awesome Slew (post 1), the impressive winner of the Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx for Eddie Plesa Jr.; and the rapidly improving New York-bred Hit It Once More (post 12), who is trained by Gary Sciacca.

The others are Summer Revolution (post 3), Connect (post 4), Wild About Deb (post 6), My Man Sam (post 8), Sunny Ridge (post 10), and Discreet Lover (post 11).

Cotillion: Five to face Songbird

Songbird, perfect in 10 career starts, will face five opponents in the 1 1/16-mile Cotillion, including Kentucky Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia and Acorn Stakes winner Carina Mia, who finished second to Songbird in the Coaching Club American Oaks.

After her tour de force at Saratoga, where she won the CCA Oaks and Alabama Stakes, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer brought Songbird home to California and has worked her four times. She was expected to arrive at Parx on Monday following a flight into Allentown, Pa.

Mike Smith, who has ridden Songbird in all of her races, will be aboard when she breaks from post 5 in the Cotillion. Songbird, who has not been higher than 3-10 in the betting in her last six races, will again be a prohibitive favorite.

Cathryn Sophia (post 2) has the home-field advantage. Her trainer, John Servis, has long been based at Parx, and Cathryn Sophia was stabled at the track as a 2-year-old. She tuned up for the Cotillion with an effortless 6 1/2-length victory in the $150,000 Princess of Sylmar at Parx on Sept. 3.

Carina Mia (post 1) stretched out in distance to challenge Songbird in the 1 1/8-mile CCA Oaks. She looked Songbird in the eye on the far turn but ultimately was beaten 5 1/4 lengths. She has since shortened up and finished third in the seven-furlong Ballerina.

The Cotillion field also includes Disco Rose (post 3), Land Over Sea (post 4), and Queena Esther (post 6).

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MollyJulia624 More than 1 year ago
ICE COLD EXACTA - Nyquist & Gun Runner?
RaceTote More than 1 year ago
The forecast for Saturday: "partly cloudy, high temperature of 73 degrees." No rain in PA between now and race day. The track condition and the distance sets up perfect for Nyquist, based on his performance record through the Kentucky Derby. I just pray he's healthy. If he doesn't win this one, his contacts better give him a full body MRI and Cat Scan. He was too good for too long to just lose his winning edge so easily without a specific medical diagnoses. Prior to the Prekness Stakes, this big fellow, was the next Seattle Slew. He may still be. Could be he can't handle a wet track. I hope it's that simple, and he runs away from the field Saturday.
RaceTote More than 1 year ago
It's all about track condition,  Nyquist or Cupid dry, Exaggerator wet. 
Mooch ... More than 1 year ago
should be a good race
Steve Wilson More than 1 year ago
Nyquist needs to run huge.  For some reason, his fans are quick to point out his rivals wins are on a sloppy track, but none of them ever answer to the fact that Nyquist  simply skipped 2 historic Grade 1's (Belmont and Travers), hoping his Derby victory is enough to be named champion 3YO.  Sorry, it isn't.
Jim Pitura More than 1 year ago
Tony Black getting a leg up on any this weekend?
Vincent Spathanas More than 1 year ago
My price play while enjoying a frosty beverage is Gun Runner !
Scott More than 1 year ago
my longshot play on this race would have to be awesome slew on the rare chance he gets an uncontested lead. has track experience and will have to be sent from gate 1. will be interesting to see how cupid runs with the big 3
Jay More than 1 year ago
You failed to mention that Exaggerator took the last two from Nyquist on a sloppy track.  Look for Nyquist to win this race easy if the track is fast.