2016 Pennsylvania Derby – Nyquist vs Exaggerator once more



September 21st 2016

Coming this Saturday is another interesting battle of the top three finishers in this year’s Kentucky Derby: Nyquist, Exaggerator and Gun RunnerWith a purse of $1.250,000, the Penn Derby always attracts some of the top 3 year olds and this year’s field (shown below) is no exception. Other entries include: the West Virginia Derby winner Cupid, the Smarty Jones Stakes winner Awesome Slew and the Withers Stakes winner Sunny Ridge who placed 3rd in the Haskell Invitational. 

The Pennsylvania Derby – 1 1/8th Mile – Saturday September 24th – Race #11 at PARX – Post-Time: 4:45 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. Awesome Slew (122) – Lopez/Plesa – 10-1
2. Exaggerator (124) – Desormeax/Desormeax – 9-2
3. Summer Revolution (117) – Smith/Rodriguez – 8-1
4. Connect (119) – Velazquez/Brown – 12-1
5. Cupid (122) – Bejarano/Baffert – 5-1
6. Wild About Deb (117) – Pejeira/Preciado – 20-1
7. Gun Runner (122) – Geroux/Asmussen – 6-1
8. My Man Sam (117) – Franco/Brown – 20-1
9. Nyquist (124) – Gutierrez/O’Neill- 5-2
10. Sunny Ridge (122) – Bravo/Servis – 12-1
11. Discreet Lover (117) – Flores/Lewis – 30-1  
12. Hit It Once More (119) – Ortiz Jr./Sciacca – 20-1

Race Analysis: This should be one helluva race. Summer Revolution will provide the speed and early pace which will bode well for Exaggerator’s closing style. He should get Awesome Slew to go with him from the #1 post. Right now the weather forecast shows that it will be a dry race by post time (25% chance of early morning showers). So I think Nyquist will bounce back and finish ahead of Exaggerator. But will it be good enough for the win? Nyquist deserves to be the race favorite but not at odds lower than 2-1. He hasn’t won since the Kentucky Derby back in May.

Nyquist is my reluctant top choice but I think we could have a surprise winner in this one. The Bob Baffert-trained Cupid is capable of providing the upset as is Gun Runner. But my longshot choice would be the son of Awesome Again–Awesome Slew–who might be prime to wire this field like he did in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx shown below. And he won’t have to come from the outside post  across traffic to get there starting in Post #1.

Summer Revolution seems initially inviting with Mike Smith on-board but he has never raced further than 7 furlongs and finished 4th in his last start (King’s Bishop Stakes) against lesser competition. Connect is a good horse who I was high on entering the Travers Stakes. He received a 101 Beyer Speed Figure in the Curlin Stakes but disappointingly finished 6th in the Travers. And he was 6th after 9 furlongs in that race too.

So I would probably recommend a boxed Superfecta of five horses (1,2,5,7 & 9). A 10 cent boxed Superfecta with 5 horses would cost $12. If any of these horses are scratched, then add the 4 horse Connect. If you believe Connect will bounce back, another 10 cent Superfecta you can try is 1, 2, 7, 9 with 1, 2, 5, 7, 9 with 1, 2, 5, 7, 9 with 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 which would cost $12.60. This bet eliminates Cupid from winning and Nyquist from a 4th place finish but adds Connect as a 4th place finisher.



  1. Adam Solowiei · September 23, 2016

    Think it might be tough to leave out Connect since he can go or rate.. The horse is in with a chance. Especially in the exotics. My top look is still Gun Runner. Arrogate was out of his mind in the Travers and only other miss was the Haskell and it was an off track..



    • Michael J. Cox · September 23, 2016

      I really liked Connect entering the Travers Stakes and thought he might be a good longshot. He proved to be fast in the 9 Furlong Curlin Stakes and received a 101 Beyer Speed Figure. My only concern is after rewatching the Travers, is that he would have finished 6th after 9 furlongs just like he did after 10 furlongs. His mile time wasn’t as good in the Travers as it was in the Curlin Stakes. Since both of these races were at Saratoga on a dry fast track, there is nothing to attribute this dropoff in performance to. There is a lot of speed in Penn Derby and my guess is that he will get about the same trip he got in the Travers. Arrogate may have been off the charts that day but both Nyquist and Exaggerator (when he is on and I think he will bounce back) are better than American Freedom whom finished 2nd. In the Travers, Connect beat Creator by a head for 6th place. Cupid proved in the Rebel Stakes that he was a better horse than his half-brother Creator, his Arkansas Derby performance was an aberation. I think Awesome Slew is getting the ideal starting spot in post #1 for the rail-run like he did in the Smarty Jones. Whether he can hang on another 1/2 furlong remains the big question but even if he peters out, he should be able to salvage a spot in the Superfecta.


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