06/29/2013 4:23PM

Parx Racing: Pianist tries to follow up breakthrough win in Penny Memorial

Barbara D. Livingston
Pianist won the Gallorette Handicap in May at Pimlico for her first graded stakes victory and returns in Tuesday's Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap at Parx Racing.

One sees it regularly. Race after race, a horse takes strangely heavy betting action, going off at odds far below fair value. Race after race, the horse lets down its mysterious legion of backers. The money finally goes elsewhere – and that’s the day the horse finally breaks out.

Such is the story of Pianist, a beaten favorite four times in 10 starts, hammered to odds-on in a pair of stakes defeats late last year and bet down to 5-2 second-favoritism when overwhelmed this winter at Gulfstream Park by the top-level Centre Court. In the May 18 Gallorette, Pianist went off at 6-1, by far the highest price of her career, as trainer Chad Brown’s other entrant, Samitar, was bet to even money.

Samitar went nowhere, but Pianist went boom, scoring a sharp, front-running 2 3/4-length victory, her first graded stakes win.

The question now is, can she do it again? Pianist is one of eight fillies and mares – including the coupled entry of Laughing and Dinner’s Out – entered in the Grade 3, $250,000 Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap on Tuesday at Parx. The handicap conditions mean little, with all but one of the horses weighted between 116 and 118 pounds.

The Penny, like the Gallorette, is a 1 1/16-mile grass race but appears to present a deeper set of opponents than Pianist defeated at Pimlico.

There also is the Pimlico turf-course profile during Preakness weekend to consider when weighing Pianist’s chances: The grass there favored front-running types, and Pianist hardly slowed after setting a strong pace. Mike Smith rode her for the first time that day and has a return call, and Smith figures to take his chances again on or near the front end.

Pianist figures to find company there from Laughing, though the Penny pace does not project as especially swift.

Hessonite should fall into a good tracking spot after breaking from the rail and will have a chance to improve upon her second-place finish in the 2012 Penny. Hessonite appeared to flounder over soft turf last out in the Sheepshead Bay, where she finished a distant sixth at an 11-furlong distance probably farther than her best. She has since worked a swift half-mile for trainer David Donk and is a five-time winner going 1 1/16 miles.

Miz Ida and Somali Lemonade also can win. Miz Ida, in from Churchill for trainer Steve Margolis, has yet to undertake a major shipping experience like this, but her last-start, come-from-behind score over Daisy Devine in the Mint Julep Handicap suggested that the 4-year-old Miz Ida still is moving forward. Somali Lemonade, a one-run closer, should be ready to improve after a June 2 prep race in a Belmont allowance, her first start of 2013.

tim yu More than 1 year ago
soft turf makes look like a two horse race; Miz Ida who beat Pianist Oct 9 at Keeneland and the front running Pianist . Pianist chance really improved with the scratch of front running Laughing
Jim Rice More than 1 year ago
offbeatbull More than 1 year ago
Because it wasn't Pletcher's call fool. JR chose a multiple Graded winner over a non-winner of 3 other than.
Jim Rice More than 1 year ago
i can understand people bein pissed that this race is bein run on a dark day tuesday and the best jocks are in for 1 race......its obvious that philly doesnt think highly of there own jockey colony & tuesdayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy...for real.....geez.......i see jockey s mike smith, joel rosario, jose lezcano & john velasquez dominating race!!!
offbeatbull More than 1 year ago
Spoken like a clueless amateur. This is their July 4th week feature...sometimes it falls on the 4th if that is a live card date. And as to the jocks. It is a $250k race and these class of horse usually bring in their regular jock or one of commensurate ability.
W.G. More than 1 year ago
Exactly, and besides, this race has ALWAYS been on a Monday or Tuesday. As noted in my other post, it may be that people connected to Dr. Penny specifically asked the race be on Monday or Tuesday.
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
Why would Parx card this race on a Tuesday when the average person works? I live 10 mins and would love to see but like most work. Im sure Sat will be another awful card and these types of moves is why racing going to go under. Put great horse racing on weekends when newbies go out not on Tuesdays.
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
Parx has always run this race on a Monday or Tuesday, partially because of increased exposure (fewer tracks running), this being a big vacation week. It may also be that connections to Dr. Penny may specifically have wanted this race on a Monday or Tuesday because it's when they can be there for it. If I were running Parx, I actually would have scheduled this and the Parx Dash (being run Friday) for a special twilight card on Wednesday, July 17 (which happens to also be opening day at Del Mar) when there is very little in sports going on (day after the All-Star Game) and (especially if the race were in early evening) likely would have gotten a lot more attention than it would otherwise solely because of that.
telfe23 More than 1 year ago
i had Pianist at Pimlico last time, a day where speed on the turf was unbeateable. I wanted to bet against her the next time she runs, but with Laughing scratching, she'll be lonespeed, i'm betting her to win and on multis, 3-1 should be fair
Derek Michael More than 1 year ago
I agree, and I think if someone beats Pianist, it'll be Miz Ida.
S Jeff More than 1 year ago
3-1 fair?! lol try 4-5
DavidC More than 1 year ago
My review of this nice turf race is what I like to see!. Now, given the particulars of this match up I think that Hessonite the veteran runner and Belmont Park based well come into this race with eyes wide open and ready for a win move coupled with the late charging Somali Lemonade-the one run runner who could steal this one if, the front starts to burn up in the late stages of this stakes race..Pianist is going to have to show the real runner she is to get this graded stakes win, Period and ain't no B.S about it!..I hear what the Marcus Hersh is predicting..I'll go for a price on this one!
David G. More than 1 year ago
$250,000 stakes race at Parx on a Tuesday afternoon? It's nice that the jockey's room will have to clear out for the out of town invaders for one race. Only J. Bisono gets to stay behind. Wonder how the rest of the Parx riding colony feels about this. That's like the dedicated small town contractors that have to step aside for a state highway that's about to plow through their town.
offbeatbull More than 1 year ago
Hey stupid...they are running for $250K! Good horses have regular riders. None of these is based in Parx and therefore a regular hometown rider is NOT getting booted. Did you just start going to the races?
Arthur Maier More than 1 year ago
"fool...clueless...stupid..." Is this name-calling really necessary? C'mon, man!