Timeform's Graeme North previews two $1million races from Parx, as well as action at Belmont and Delaware.
"There’s every chance of more top-notch success in North America this weekend for Godolphin as they are responsible for the Morning Line favourites in the two feature races on a historic Parx card which sees the Pennsylvania track hosting its first G1 event."
For a change it was Godolphin and not Coolmore that cornered the limelight last weekend in Europe with only a head (literally and metaphorically) between the Dubai outfit and a commendable G1 Prix du Moulin/St Leger/National Stakes hat-trick.
There's every chance of more top-notch success in North America this weekend for Godolphin as they are responsible for the Morning Line favourites in the two feature races on a historic Parx card which sees the Pennsylvania track hosting its first G1 event. That race in question is the Cotillion Stakes (21:39 BST), which might only have attracted four runners but promises to be an intriguing match-up all the same between 127-rated Questing, who is the outstanding filly of her generation this year in the States, and 122-rated My Miss Aurelia who was the champion two-year-old filly last year when she won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Godolphin's Questing has by some way the better form of the duo having won the G1 CCA Oaks and G1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on her last two starts by a combined total of over 13 lengths from some very smart fillies. But it's been the manner of those victories - running her rivals hard into submission - rather than the margins she has won by that has been eye-popping. She had her opponents in the CCA Oaks raising the white flag before the home turn after running the first two furlongs in 105.6% of the overall per-furlong time but bettered even that that in the Alabama last time when nothing could live with her - hardly surprisingly - after she ran the first quarter and first half in 106.2% and 105.4 of the same respectively.
My Miss Aurelia dominated the filly division last year and had more in hand than the winning margin in the Breeders' Cup but she hung badly when making a winning reappearance in the summer and missed the G1 Test Stakes at Saratoga recently reportedly because she needed more time. In receipt of 7lb, My Miss Aurelia has 2lb in hand on weight adjusted ratings but with doubts about her current well-being and Questing the proverbial certainty to dominate from the front, the Godolphin runner is hard to oppose and is likely to start shorter than the 2 Morning Line forecast. Canadian-based Dixie Strike (rated 108) and Moment In Dixie (rated 103) make up the field.
The other feature event at Parx, the G2 Pennsylvania Derby (22:08 BST) is a rematch between Godolphin's Alpha and Golden Ticket who shared the spoils - running to 119 - in the G1 Travers at Saratoga last month after long-shot Golden Ticket went a length or so clear inside the last only to be hauled back right on the line. That race was a stiffer test of Alpha's credentials than his preceding win the G2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga which was achieved readily after being handed a soft lead on a sloppy track and if nothing else it showed that for all he isn't quite out of the top drawer in terms of ability he has courage in abundance. With Hansen the latest this week in a long line of leading three-year-olds either side-lined or retired to stud, though, a top-drawer performance is unlikely to be needed anyway to bag the $1m prize.
Golden Ticket finished second running to 111 in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby back in March but other than that hasn't a Timeform rating higher than 102, so it might be that Macho Macho will prove as much of a threat. He ran the useful My Adonis to half a length before getting up late in the West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer last time and runner-up then Bourbon Courage boosted the form when winning the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs earlier this month. Macho Macho receives 2lb from Alpha and Golden Ticket and he's not beyond causing an upset at the forecast 5.
The G2 Gallant Bloom Handicap (17:06, 22:06 BST) over six and a half furlongs for fillies and mares is the attraction at Belmont on Saturday. Ten go to post with the weights headed by Musical Romance who won the G1 Princess Rooney at Calder last time, returning 119 in the process but arguably value for a bit more seeing as she raced up with the exceptionally strong pace.
Second top weight Turbulent Descent is another coming here off the back of a G1 win, in her instance the Ballerina at Saratoga where she accounted for two smart rivals in Derwin's Star and All Due Respect. She also ran to 119 that day on what was just her second outing of the season, but she recorded three separate 122 performances last year and with no reason to think she's not still capable of that level she looks the pick of the weights conceding no more than 7lb to the rest of the field.
Morning Line odds of 2.8 for Turbulent Descent give little away, however, and if there is one horse in the line-up who might be overpriced at around 13 it is bottom weight Risky Rachel. A winner of three of her five starts at Belmont on dirt, she turned in a career-best performance last time at Saratoga posting a better timefigure than most of her rivals have managed and has the assistance of Javier Castellano who was second only to Ramon Dominguez in the jockey standings at the Belmont spring/summer meet earlier in the year. She could easily run into a place.
The G3 Kent Stakes at Delaware (16:15, 21:15 BST) for three-year-olds over nine furlongs on the turf has attracted no better than a useful field with American Derby winner Cozzetti, whose task here isn't quite as tough as in the G1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington last time, sure to go well. He shoulders top weight along with Miami Cat whose Saratoga win last time in a minor stakes contest still leaves him plenty to find, but the claims further down of Lucky Chappy are hard to resist. His come-from-behind tactics have been overdone more than once recently but his second to Silver Max at Colonial two runs back was a smart effort and he looked a much better horse that day than eventual third Finnegans Wake who has since finished in front of Cozzetti at Arlington. The return to this more galloping track should suit the former Listed winner in Italy after the tighter confines of Saratoga last time and he can bag his first win in North America.
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