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Updated on 09/20/2012 3:25PM
Parx Racing: McLaughlin runners favored in pair of million-dollar races
By Matt Hegarty
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.
Short field turns Cotillion into a jock's race .....Questing's drifting about in her last 2 is a concern ...My Miss Aurelia is FRESH ......7 lbs & Ortiz jr Vs CNak makes the difference ....MMA & Dixie Strike yackta ......hard to believe there wasn't another 3YO Filly willing to accept a 30k payday ....odd
what a crappy card,talk about not getting any bang for your buck.the cottilion is basically a match race between a brilliant import that drifts out in the stretch and last years 2yo champion filly,who has run just once this season.and the pen derby is the weakest of all the derbys so far alpha who couldnt get by a 43/1 shot and that 43/1 shot .boy a million doesnt get you much.as for the sprint its a contest between two decent but far from great sprinters in trinniberg and currency swap and really nobody else.
Upset! Upset! Upset! I'm looking for the lightly regarded lightweight in the field, Moment In Dixie, to spring the stunning victory in the Cotillion. Questing is due to bounce after picking up some impressive stakes wins but now, gets saddled with weight, and gets tested on the front end by My Miss Aurelia. Moment in Dixie, patiently handled by her connections for 2 years despite racing only one of them, she looks primed and ready. Don't be surprised to see her in the winner's circle.
My Miss Aurelia is a champion. But she had a one turn prep against a field of under achievers. Questing has destroyed classy courageous filliies in her last two victories. Also she is shortening in distance. The weight allowance seems a bit unfair to me since MMA is the champion juvenile. But I still feel Questing will win. Alpha has the nice angle of 3rd race off layoff. The weight again seems unfair given that he has only shared victory in one grade 1 race. I'm worried that Trinniberg is going backwards and may need a freshening.
Miss Aurelia has the credentials and can best Questing. It will be a good race and short fields lead to long shots! Look out!
At least the undercard drew full fields. But a $1 mill race gets only 4 horses.
greatest day of racing in Pa history--i will be there to watch Questing and Alpha both waltz away with the cash
Good job with that Slot money.Hahaha! Clowns to the left of me Jokers to the right.
D THATS WHAT HE SAID LOOK AGAIN mh01
Its Pennsylvania where most race winners are decided before they are run
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