Updated on 09/20/2012 4:25PM

Parx Racing: McLaughlin runners favored in pair of million-dollar races

Barbara D. Livingston
Alpha and Golden Ticket, who dead-heated in the Travers, will meet again in Saturday's Pennsylvania Derby.

Alpha and Golden Ticket, the two 3-year-olds colts who dead-heated in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes on Aug. 25 at Saratoga, were both entered on Monday in Saturday’s $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing in Philadelphia, headlining a star-studded race card that also includes the first match-up of the 3-year-old fillies Questing and My Miss Aurelia.

The Pennsylvania Derby is one of two million-dollar races on Saturday at Parx, along with the Cotillion, which drew Questing and My Miss Aurelia, last year’s 2-year-old champion filly. While both races have the same purse, the Derby stands out as the better betting race, drawing eight 3-year-olds males, while the presence of Questing and My Miss Aurelia in the Cotillion scared off all but two other fillies.

Regardless of the betting, no one will have a bigger stake in the Parx card than Godolphin Racing and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, the owner and trainer, respectively, of both Alpha and Questing, who were made the favorites in their races after the Monday draw.

McLauglin said on Monday that both of his horses are “doing great” in their run-up to the Saturday races, though he said he had some concern over the amount of weight each of them will carry. Alpha will carry 124 pounds, conceding 10 pounds to most of the field. Questing will also carry 124, conceding seven pounds to My Miss Aurelia.

“They both worked well this week, and all systems are go,” McLaughlin said. “My only concern is the weight they’re both going to have to carry. Giving seven pounds to a 2-year-old champion is pretty tough.”

Both Alpha and Golden Ticket have been pointing to the Pennsylvania Derby since the improbable Travers result. If all goes well for each one, they’ll head to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park.

Alpha drew the four hole at the Monday afternoon draw and was made the 9-5 favorite. Ramon Dominguez will ride. Golden Ticket drew the 6 spot, with David Cohen up.

The rest of the Derby field, from the rail out: Stephanoatsee, Casual Trick, Handsome Mike, Junebugred, Casaba, and Macho Macho.

In the Cotillion, Questing drew the second post and was made the even-money favorite on the strength of her last three runaway wins, including victories in the Alabama Stakes and Coaching Club American Oaks. My Miss Aurelia, who impressively won her only start this year, an overnight stakes at Saratoga, was made the 8-5 second choice and will break from the 3 post under Corey Nakatani.

The other two fillies in the Cotillion are Moment in Dixie and Dixie Strike, breaking from posts 1 and 4, respectively.

◗ Also on the undercard, multiple stakes winners Trinniberg and Currency Swap are set to renew their rivalry in the $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds. When they last met, in the Aug. 25 King's Bishop, they were both unplaced. In their previous meeting, the seven-furlong Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9, Trinniberg beat Currency Swap by 1 3/4 lengths. Seven other horses are entered.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the last time Trinniberg and Currency Swap met in a race. Both ran in the Aug. 25 King's Bishop as well as the June 9 Woody Stephens.