The 32nd running of the Pennsylvania Derby is the marquee event of the weekend, featuring the winner of the Belmont Stakes, the winner of two-thirds of the Canadian Triple Crown, and the runners-up in the Wood Memorial and the Travers. It is a strong field of nine that will most likely have to deal with a soggy racetrack at Parx since the Philadelphia area is currently suffering through a wet weekend with flood warnings, according to weather.com. We are going to try a bit of a different tack in our handicapping feature this week and look at each horse individually and offer a top four at the end. Here is the analysis:
#1 Ruler On Ice- The Belmont winner will certainly love the wet surface that replicates the slop he won the Test Of Champions in. He merits a look the more of a bog the racetrack will be.
#2 Arthur's Tale- Runner-up in the Wood has not been back to the races since that big effort at 21-1. His morning line here is 12-1 and he is another that could benefit from heavy rainfall.
#3 Pender Harbour- Versatile Canadian-bred won the Prince Of Wales and the Breeders' Stakes, the latter coming on the grass. He could have won all three up north with some breaks in the Queen's Plate. I think his 12-1 morning line is a great value here.
#4 Norman Asbjornson- Scored a win at Parx on September 3 in what appeared to be a prep for this spot. However, I just don't think he has the speed or the capacity to keep up with these.
#5 Rush Now- Also entered in the Grade 3 Kent at Delaware on Saturday. I think he might be a factor should he choose to go here off of a solid second to Prayer For Relief in the West Virginia Derby.
#6 Isn't He Perfect- Has not won since a Starter Allowance score at Aqueduct on the inner track in March. Another one that is not good enough to be a contender.
#7 To Honor And Serve- Trying to return to the spotlight after missing four months between the Florida Derby and the Amsterdam. Rebounded off the long layoff to win second time back at The Spa on August 26 and posted a bullet workout on September 17 over Oklahoma track.
#8 JW Blue- Rolled late to collect third money behind Stay Thirsty in the Travers on August 27. He is also double-entered in the Kent at Delaware. While he has been finishing well of late, he has not won since January, when he was at Oaklawn.
#9 Rattlesnake Bridge- Second-best in the Travers and his Tomlinson wet number indicates he should love the sloppy surface. John Velazquez rides for Kiaran McLaughlin. The Sire is Tapit, who has been producing winners all over the place.
TOP FOUR SELECTIONS: 9-7-5-3
They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!