Thursday, September 22, 2016

Rebel Winner Cupid Tackles Triple Crown Race Heroes in Pennsylvania Derby

Oaklawn-raced horses have fared well in recent years in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2). Cupid can enhance that reputation in the $1.25 million race Saturday at Parx.

Cupid, who won the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn, is among 12 horses entered in the Pennsylvania Derby, which is one of five stakes races on the 12-race program. Probable post time for the Pennsylvania Derby is 4:45 p.m. (Central).

The 1 1/8-mile race has also drawn Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, the 5-2 program favorite, and Preakness winner Exaggerator, the early 9-2 second choice.

Cupid (5-1) is bidding for his third consecutive victory. Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, he won the $500,000 Indiana Derby (G2) July 16 at Indiana Grand and the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (G2) Aug. 6 at Mountaineer.

Cupid is scheduled to break from post 5 Saturday under Rafael Bejarano and carry 122 pounds.

After winning the Rebel, Cupid finished 10th as the 4-5 favorite in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16 at Oaklawn. Arkansas Derby winner Creator later captured the Belmont Stakes.

Baffert won the Pennsylvania Derby in 2014 with Bayern, who finished third in the Arkansas Derby in his stakes debut. Bayern was runner-up to California Chrome in voting for champion 3-year-old male of 2014.

Will Take Charge won the Rebel and Pennsylvania Derby in 2013 en route to champion 3-year-old male honors for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Anak Nakal won the 2008 Pennsylvania Derby after finishing seventh in the Rebel for Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito.

Arkansas Derby runner-up Smarten won the inaugural Pennsylvania Derby in 1979 for Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens.

Undercard Force?

Cupid isn’t the only Oaklawn stakes winner scheduled to run Saturday at Parx in suburban Philadelphia.

Counterforce drew post 5 for the $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds at 6 furlongs. The Smart Strike colt broke his maiden March 5 at Oaklawn before winning the track’s $150,000 Bachelor Stakes April 15. He is trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, who has won seven Oaklawn titles since 2007. Florent Geroux is named to ride the colt, who is listed at 8-1 in the program.

Probable post time is 3:14 p.m. (Central).

Finish Lines

Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Marquee Miss is entered in the $100,000 Dogwood Stakes Saturday night at Churchill Downs. Also entered is Oaklawn allowance/optional claiming winner One True Kiss. … Oaklawn riding champions Ricardo Santana Jr. and Calvin Borel are scheduled to ride in the $100,000 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup (G1) Saturday night at Churchill Downs. The 1 1/16-mile race is for older Arabian horses. …Jockey Joe Rocco Jr., among Oaklawn’s top-10 riders this year, is expected to miss several weeks after fracturing his wrist in a racing accident last Friday at Churchill Downs.

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