October 18, 2018

Hofburg, McKinzie among 10 in deep Penn Derby renewal

Hofburg winning the Curlin (c) Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography

An untimely fever kept Hofburg out of last month’s Travers (G1), but Juddmonte Farms’ homebred colt appears a go for Saturday’s $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx.

Second in the Florida Derby (G1) and seventh in the Kentucky Derby (G1) in just his fourth career start, the son of Tapit rebounded to run third in the Belmont Stakes (G1). A five-length winner of the restricted $100,000 Curlin at Saratoga in late July, Hofburg’s Travers aspirations were halted due to the aforementioned illness.

The Bill Mott trainee will sport blinkers for the first time in the 1 1/8-mile race, which came up deep. Notable among the entries is McKinzie, who was Bob Baffert’s leading Kentucky Derby prospect before infirmities knocked him out of the classics, as well as the emergence of eventual Triple Crown-winning stablemate Justify.

McKinzie was involved in two controversial disqualification decisions last winter. Elevated from second to first in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) in December, he was subsequently demoted from first to second, behind Bolt d’Oro, in the March 10 San Felipe (G2), which was his most recent start. In between appearances, the son of Street Sense, won the Sham (G3) handily by 3 1/2 lengths.

Making his first start since running fourth in the Kentucky Derby at odds of 85-1 is Instilled Regard. Previously trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, for whom he narrowly missed in the Los Alamitos Futurity and won the Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds, Instilled Regard will make his first start for Chad Brown on Saturday.

Triple Crown series veteran Bravazo enters off a second in the Haskell Invitational (G1) and a third in the Travers (G1). Winless since the Risen Star (G2) in February, he’s trained by D. Wayne Lukas, who won the 2013 Pennsylvania Derby with eventual champion Will Take Charge.

Dale Romans has entered Mr Freeze, eight-length hero of the West Virginia Derby (G3) last out, and Matt Winn (G3) scorer King Zachary, fourth in the Indiana Derby (G3) and Travers in his past two starts. His Indiana Derby conqueror, Axelrod, followed up that Indiana Grand victory with a four-length decision in the Smarty Jones (G3) at Parx.

Ohio Derby (G3) winner Core Beliefs and the graded-placed Trigger Warning and First Mondays complete the lineup.

On the undercard, the $300,000 Gallant Bob (G3) for three-year-olds at six furlongs occasionally serves as useful prep for the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G3). Among the entries are multiple graded stakes winner Firenze Fire, Woody Stephens (G2) victor Still Having Fun, and the multiple graded-placed Seven Trumpets and Engage.

Collected, winner of the Pacific Classic (G1) and runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) last season, was entered in the $150,000 Pennsylvania Derby Champion (“West Coast”) at 1 1/16 miles. The Bob Baffert trainee has not raced since a disappointing seventh-place effort in the January 27 Pegasus World Cup (G1).

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