Updated on 09/15/2011 12:57PM

Touch Tone vs. Macho Uno in Pa. Derby


The process of filling the void in the 3-year-old division left by Point Given's retirement begins Monday at Philadelphia Park, where Macho Uno, last year's 2-year-old champion, squares off against up-and-comer Touch Tone in the $500,000 Pennsylvania Derby.

The Grade 3 Pennsylvania Derby, run at nine furlongs on the main track, highlights a 12-race card, which also includes a trio of ungraded stakes. First post is 12:25 p.m. Eastern with the Pennsylvania Derby scheduled to go at 5:12 p.m.

A field of seven was entered for the Pennsylvania Derby, including the filly Unbridled Elaine, who has won the Iowa Oaks and Monmouth Oaks since being moved to David Vance's barn.

But the focus will be squarely on Macho Uno and Touch Tone. Because of the way the conditions are written, Touch Tone - who has yet to win a graded stakes - carries co-high weight of 122 pounds, while Macho Uno - who won last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile - gets in with 114 pounds.

"Any time you can get weight going a distance of ground it makes a difference," said Joe Orseno, trainer of Macho Uno, who will race in blinkers and with Gary Stevens for the first time.

Orseno said his original plans called for Stevens to take back Macho Uno, "but if the track is playing where you can't come from too far out of it, then we'll be a little closer."

The Pennsylvania Derby is only Macho Uno's second start since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile by a nose over Point Given last November. An ankle problem kept him away from the races until July, when he finished second in a seven-furlong allowance race at Saratoga. As he did in the Juvenile, Macho Uno weaved through the stretch that day, which is why Orseno has elected to equip him with blinkers.

Touch Tone, who was run down by Point Given in the final yards of the Grade 1 Haskell, is the one to catch and beat under Robby Albarado. A son of Pick up the Phone, Touch Tone has yet to run on the same racetrack twice. The deep surface at Philadelphia Park has trainer Ronny Werner a bit concerned.

"As far as this surface, we're getting on one that doesn't fit him quite as good," Werner said. "Hopefully, we settle him down as quick as possible. I'd like for him to slow it down a bit, but with his natural ability he's going to be on the front end."

Unbridled Elaine, who carries 119 pounds, could become the first filly to win the Pennsylvania Derby. She has won 5 of 7 career starts. Her last two have been for Vance, who was a four-time leading trainer at Philadelphia Park when it was Keystone Racetrack in the mid-1970's.