Monthly Archives: March 2023

Guest Blog Throwback: 2014 Pennsylvania Derby & Cotillion Stakes

September 2014, Parx Racetrack

Thirteen races on the day’s card were highlighted by the grade I Cotillion for three-year old fillies and the grade II Pennsylvania Derby for three-year old males. The races attracted some of the best horses from the two divisions, and therefore, about 16,000 people. I was at the Haskell Invitational in the summer and saw Untapable, the top 3-year old filly and Cotillion favorite, and Bayern, who won the Haskell and would be running in the PA Derby. Most exciting for me though and really the reason I made the trip was to see my favorite racehorse, California Chrome.

The third race was a maiden for two-year old fillies. Serious Happiness got the score in her fifth race by a solid margin. In the winner’s circle, the young filly was very antsy.
Monaguska with an authoritative victory over an allowance field in the fourth race.
Post parade for the fifth, the eventual second place finisher.
#4, Bama Bound, would get the allowance victory by a nose.
Bama Bound.
Hello 🙂
Off in the sixth!
A win by Dawly.
Cast a Doubt would cast aside all doubts in winning the seventh race (next two photos).
After a rough trip—slightly impeded in the stretch, taking lots of dirt—Catch My Drift won the eighth, her third win in four starts.
#9, Dancing Lounge, takes a look at #10, Atlantic Seaboard, prior to the Alphabet Soup Handicap.
Prudhoe Bay examines the crowd.

The Cotillion Stakes

Cassatt came first into the paddock, dragging her handler and trainer Larry Jones. Nervous or just high-strung in front of the large crowd, they were doing everything they could to keep her restrained. I heard many compliments about how good a horseman Larry Jones is. One man called someone and said, “I’m here at the paddock, you gotta come down here, you gotta see this horse!”
Final adjustments on Jojo Warrior.
Untapable remained composed and business-like. Rosie Napravnik sat calmly on the filly. The crowd cheered as the pair passed by, so Rosie quickly put her finger to her lips in a shushing gesture—which thankfully worked.

I tried to get good photos of the Cotillion, but unfortunately was not very successful. The field of eight (#9, Stopchargingmaria, was scratched) got off smoothly. Jojo Warrior had the lead in the upper stretch, but Untapable kept bearing down on her. She hadn’t won that way since her victory in the Pocahontas Stakes in 2013 (when she closed in on Stonetastic in the same fashion). The two went eyeball-to-eyeball for a dozen strides or so, but Untapable, urged on by Rosie Napravnik, passed by Jojo Warrior like a champ. Jojo Warrior faded in deep stretch, allowing Sweet Reason (#2) to grasp second money. Untapable, after facing the boys in the Haskell, found the winner’s circle again!

In the paddock stood two statues, painted to the silks of last year’s Cotillion and PA Derby winner. Close Hatches won the Cotillion and Will Take Charge won the PA Derby. Close Hatches was unbeaten so far in the year, while Will Take Charge had been retired due to a minor injury after good performances in big races.

The Pennsylvania Derby

California Chrome’s arrival was met by cheers from the crowd.
His fanbase was very prominent.
Classic Giacnroll.
Noble Moon.
California Chrome detracted most of the attention from the other horses, but Candy Boy, in particular, still inspired some awe when he passed. One woman simply commented, “You’re a big boy Candy Boy.”

When the race began, Chrome was almost immediately boxed in as Bayern surged to the front. The Offlee Wild colt (pun intended) stayed there through increasingly fast quarters—and ultimately, made the eight horse race a solo act. California Chrome toiled some ten lengths behind Bayern, who set a track record for the mile and an eighth. California Chrome finished sixth.

Tapiture’s handler looking at the replay screen.

Despite the disappointing finish, Chrome was welcomed back with a pat on the head from groom Raul Rodriguez, an acknowledgement of the power and intensity of a racing effort. As California Chrome passed by—breathing heavily, veins streaming across his coat glistening with sweat—the crowd cheered. He didn’t win that day, but his fans didn’t care. He had already won their hearts.

Bayern, with that characteristic eye, after a dominating Pennsylvania Derby win.