September 18, 2021

Math Wizard stuns Pennsylvania Derby at 31-1

Math Wizard
Math Wizard wins the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1) under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. at Parx Racing on September 21, 2019 (c) Equi-Photo/Bill Denver

In one of the bigger upsets in recent Pennsylvania Derby (G1) history, Math Wizard pulled off a 31-1 stunner of Saturday’s $1,015,000 renewal at Parx that was tactically much different than could have been envisioned beforehand.

When 6-5 favorite Improbable broke last after acting up in the gate, that left second choice Mr. Money in the unusual position of setting the pace. Under a strong hold, Mr. Money set slow fractions of :24.50, :49.60, and 1:13.44, with Preakness (G1) winner War of Will and Spun to Run in close attendance. Improbable rated in fourth.

The race turned into a sprint for the final three furlongs. Mr. Money continued to hang tough up front with Improbable bidding up the rail and War of Will in the mix, but making the eventual winning rally on the far outside was Math Wizard, who had found himself at the tail of the field after a half-mile yet proved to have the strongest closing kick.

Math Wizard caught Mr. Money in the final strides to win by a neck in a time of 1:50.94 for nine furlongs over a fast track. War of Will was a length behind in third, with Improbable fourth. Spun to Run and Shanghai Superfly completed the order of finish after the early-week scratch of multiple Grade 1 winner Maximum Security due to colon issues.

Owned by the partnership of Fanelli, Collarmele Vitelli Stables, Bassett Stables, Zoumas, Wynwood Thoroughbreds, and trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., Math Wizard returned $64.20.

“Improbable broke slow, and they were going slow up front and I know he has a good turn of foot but I was just waiting for the race to unfold,” Joseph said. “At the three-eighths pole I got excited because he looked like he was going to win, but then I thought maybe he was not finishing it off. Then I was looking at the TV, then live and I had to look twice to make sure he won.”

“Obviously disappointing and not the way we drew it up,” said Bret Calhoun, trainer of Mr. Money. “No excuses, just got outrun. Kind of surprised to be outrun by a horse we beat pretty handily a couple times.”

A distant third in the same $16,000 maiden claimer at Gulfstream Park won by Maximum Security in December, Math Wizard broke his maiden for the same tag next out and was acquired by present connections following a blowout victory for $25,000 on January 31. In subsequent stakes appearances, the son of Algorithms finished fourth in both the Wood Memorial (G2) and $300,000 Oaklawn Invitational, second in the Ohio Derby (G3), and then third and sixth behind Mr. Money in the Indiana Derby (G3) and West Virginia Derby (G3), respectively. His record now stands at 13-3-2-3, $860,073.

Bred in Kentucky by Lucky Seven Stable, Math Wizard was produced by the Grade 3-winning Minister’s Baby, by Deputy Minister.