Improbable, with Maximum Security Out, Favored in Pennsylvania Derby Saturday

Posted on: September 21, 2019, 10:47h. 

Last updated on: September 21, 2019, 09:05h.

Maximum Security won’t be in the running, but Saturday’s Grade I Pennsylvania Derby still features a quality field among the six remaining entries. The winner may very well find himself in the mix for the Breeders’ Cup Classic consideration.

Trainer Bob Baffert put blinkers back on Improbable for the colt’s win in last month’s Shared Belief Stakes win at Del Mar. Oddsmakers made the 3-year-old colt the morning line favorite for Saturday’s Pennsylvania Derby. (Image: Benoit Photo)

The Jason Servis-trained colt is out due to a bout of colitis that was diagnosed after a workout on Monday. Instead of him being the morning line favorite, that honor now falls to a colt looking for his first graded stakes win of the year.

Improbable is coming off his first win of the year, by 2-3/4 lengths in the Shared Belief Stakes on Aug. 25 at Del Mar. It was a much-needed trip to the winner’s circle for the Bob Baffert-trained colt. After a pair of second place finishes in the Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby, Improbable failed to impress in the Grade I Kentucky Derby, where he finished fourth after Maximum Security’s disqualification.

He followed that up with a sixth-place finish in the Grade I Preakness, after which Baffert gave his horse a three-month break. Baffert also put blinkers on Improbable in the Shared Belief. He’ll run with them again Saturday.

Improbable will break from the second gate Saturday, with Mike Smith getting the mount. He’s currently the 3-1 morning line favorite.

Mr. Money Steps Up in Class

The second choice in the Pennsylvania Derby is the hottest 3-year-old out there. But Mr. Money is stepping up in class in an attempt to win his fifth straight race.

After finishing off the board in the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby, trainer Bret Calhoun moved his colt to the shorter races. On the Kentucky Derby card, Mr. Money won the Grade III Pat Day Mile. He followed that up with wins in the Grade III Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill, Grade III Indiana Derby and Indiana Grand, and Mountaineer Park’s Grade III West Virginia Derby.

The latter he won by six lengths.

Hopefully, there are bigger and better things for us,” said Mr. Money’s principal owner, Chester Thomas, after the West Virginia victory on Aug. 2.

Mr. Money will start from the outside gate with 4-1 morning line odds.

War of Will Hopes for Another Rebound

To say War of Will has had an up-and-down 3-year-old campaign would be an understatement.

After winning the Grade III LeComte Stakes and Grade II Risen Star, he stumbled out of the gate in the Grade II Louisiana Derby. Even with his ninth-place finish there, he still had more than enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.

After his infamous brush with Maximum Security, which ultimately caused the historic disqualification, the Mark Casse-trained colt won the Preakness, where Improbable was the morning line favorite. Since then, he’s followed that up with a ninth-place result in the Grade I Belmont Stakes and a fading fifth-place result in the Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga.

Coming out of the fourth gate, War of Will will start as the 5-1 third choice in the Pennsylvania Derby. But it’s quite possible he’ll get bet down, especially with Maximum Security out of the picture.

Grade I Pennsylvania Derby
1-1/8 Miles Post Time: 5:50 pm ET
Parx Racing, Bensalem, PA

PP Horse, Trainer, Jockey, ML Odds
1 – Math Wizard, Saffie Joseph, Jr., Edgard Zayas, 8-1
2 – Improbable, Bob Baffert, Mike Smith, 3-1
3 – Shanghai Superfly, Marcos Zulueta, Frankie Pennington, 30-1
4 – War of Will, Mark Casse, Tyler Gaffalione, 5-1
5 – Spun to Run, Carlos Guerrero, Paco Lopez, 8-1
6 – Mr. Money, Bret Calhoun, Gabriel Saez, 4-1