08/09/2016 1:39PM

Pa. Derby pot sweetened for Triple Crown race winners

Kim Pratt
Nyquist is pointing for the Pennsylvania Derby, according to trainer Doug O'Neill

Parx Racing will increase the purse for the Pennsylvania Derby to $1.5 million if the winners of all three 2016 Triple Crown events start in the Sept. 24 race, the track announced Tuesday.

Sam Elliott, director of racing and racing secretary at the suburban Philadelphia track, said officials “saw it as a unique opportunity” to get Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist , Exaggerator (Preakness), and Creator (Belmont Stakes) in the same starting gate “for the first time since the Derby and in the last major race strictly for 3-year-olds.” All three presumably could clash again at Santa Anita in the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race open to 3-year-olds and upward.

The Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby, run at 1 1/8 miles, already is worth $1 million. The purse will be increased to $1.25 million if two of the three start, said Elliott.

Trainer Doug O’Neill already has said he intends the Pennsylvania Derby to be the only race for Nyquist prior to the Breeders’ Cup. In the meantime, Creator and Exaggerator are at Saratoga training toward the Aug. 27 Travers Stakes, which comes four weeks prior to the Pennsylvania Derby. Elliott said the respective connections of those horses “have expressed interest in coming” for the Pennsylvania Derby, assuming all goes well in the Travers.

Pennsylvania Derby bonuses of $100,000 already are paid not only for every win in a Triple Crown race, but also for a win in the Haskell, which was won July 31 by Exaggerator, and in the Travers.

In 2014, bonuses of $300,000 were paid when California Chrome (Kentucky Derby and Preakness) and Bayern (Haskell) ran in the Pennsylvania Derby. Bayern led throughout to win, with California Chrome sixth as an odds-on favorite.

In 2015, there were no bonuses paid when Frosted won the Pennsylvania Derby. American Pharoah accounted for all the preceding races except the Travers, won by Keen Ice.

Daily Racing Form charts show total handle for the 13-race Pennsylvania Derby card in 2014 totaling $9.48 million, while the handle for an 11-race card in 2015 was $5.32 million.

“There’s a sizable difference that having these marquee horses can make,” said Elliott.

The Sept. 24 card at Parx also includes a $1 million race for 3-year-old fillies, the Grade 1 Cotillion, along with the Grade 3 Gallant Bob and two other ungraded stakes.