This week in horse racing: Derby days arrive in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma


It’s last call for the 3-year-olds — including several Triple Crown alumni — in big-money spots before they’ll have to start battling older horses. Parx, with Saturday’s Grade 1 $1 million Pennsylvania Derby, and Remington Park, with Sunday’s Grade 3 $400,000 Oklahoma Derby, will put on their season’s most important races this week. 

Parx will run 10 stakes races on Saturday’s 13-race Derby Day card, including the Grade 1 $1 million Cotillion that features Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath. But the headlining Pennsylvania Derby has attracted one of its deepest fields ever. It includes the winners of the Santa Anita Derby (Taiba), Florida Derby (White Abarrio), Haskell (Cyberknife), Blue Grass (Zandon), West Virginia Derby (Skippylongstocking), Ohio Derby (Tawny Port) and Fountain of Youth (Simplification). 


Sunday’s Oklahoma Derby tops an eight-stakes card that includes the Grade 3 Remington Park Oaks, which boasts Grade 1 winner Juju’s Map. The Oklahoma Derby matches Pegasus winner Home Brew as well as Preakness third-place finisher Creative Minister. Home Brew’s trainer Brad Cox aims for a fourth straight victory in this race. 

For those betting Parx’s Derby Day card, here are the key local stakes stats over the past five years.

Percentage of winning stakes favorites: 46% 

Average win odds in stakes: 4.8-1 

Hot stakes trainers: Christophe Clement (4-9, 44%), Steve Asmussen (4-10, 40%), Mike Pino (4-10, 40%), Guadalupe Preciado (6-18, 33%), Todd Pletcher (9-29, 31%) 

Hot stakes jockeys: Mike Smith (5-10, 50%), Paco Lopez (13-38, 34%), Silvestre Gonzalez (7-28, 25%), Kendrick Carmouche (7-34, 21%) 

What To Watch For This Week 

Hawthorne, greater Chicago’s only thoroughbred racing venue since the closure of Arlington Park last summer, opens its fall-winter season Friday … Churchill Downs hosts four stakes races Saturday, including the Grade 3 Dogwood … Pimlico also has four stakes Saturday, a couple of them turf sprints, headlined by the Laurel Dash … Harness racing fans have a double shot of big races this week with the Little Brown Jug on Thursday at the Delaware County (Ohio) Fairgrounds and the Mohawk Million on Saturday in greater Toronto. 

Friday Weekend Firestarter 

Our top play scratched last Friday, so we’re still riding a three-week winning streak and looking to keep it going. In Race 8 on Friday at Churchill Downs, expect a very fast pace to give the late-running No. 7 Fine Family a big chance to come running for the upset. These kind can sometimes come up just short, so we’ll take a larger win bet and then do an smaller exacta wheel with ALL over No. 7 Fine Family in second. 

1/ST BET App Top Handicapping Tracks of the Week 

The free 1/ST BET app allows you to apply millions of data points across dozens of handicapping factors in mere seconds and immediately place your wagers. Here’s where the artificial intelligence was most dialed-in last week by win percentage: 

— 59% Prairie Meadows 

— 50% Arizona Downs 

— 38% Thistledown 

— 35% Mountaineer 

— 35% Golden Gate Fields 

Tracks with most reliable favorites last week (by win pct.) 

— 67% Hastings Park 

— 64% Prairie Meadows 

— 58% Mountaineer 

— 50% Charles Town

— 48% Golden Gate Fields 

Tracks that were long-shot havens last week (most winners 10-1 or higher) 

— 8 Canterbury Park 

— 6 Churchill Downs 

— 5 Remington Park 

— 5 Pimlico 

— 5 Gulfstream Park 

— 5 Charles Town 

America’s hot jockeys last week 

— Jorge Carreno (7-10, 70%) / Assiniboia Downs 

— Ry Eikleberry (10-19, 52%) / Canterbury Park 

— Jamie Rodriguez (10-21, 48%) / Delaware Park 

— Paco Lopez (9-23, 39%) / Monmouth, Park, Kentucky Downs 

— Carlos Lopez (10-28, 36%) / Charles Town, Pimlico 

America’s hot trainers last week 

— John Rigattieri (5-6, 87%) / Delaware Park 

— Ronney Brown (8-14, 57%) / Charles Town, Mountaineer 

— Paulo Lobo (5-9, 56%) / Aqueduct, Kentucky Downs, Indianapolis, Woodbine  

— Linda Rice (6-15, 40%) / Aqueduct, Monmouth, Finger Lakes 

— Chad Brown (9-25, 36%) / Aqueduct, Churchill, Kentucky Downs, Woodbine, Monmouth 

$20,000 September Sweepstakes 

Horseplayers who bet on 1/ST BET and Xpressbet in September are entered into drawings every time they make a bet on either platform. Each wager provides a contest entry into the random drawings at month’s end that will give away a total of $20,000 in wagering credits across various prize amounts. 

Statistics courtesy of