Ten Things You Should Know: Pennsylvania Derby
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
Originally published on September 23, 2011
1) The Pennsylvania Derby is a race restricted to 3-year-olds run at Parx (formerly Philadelphia Park) in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. The purse is $1 million.
2) The race was run for the first time in 1979 and has been run every year since except for 2006, when Philadelphia Park underwent major renovations to accommodate a slots casino.
3) The race is run at a distance of 1 1/8 miles. It has been a graded stakes since 1981 and as of 2017 is a Grade 1.
4) The race has made a few significant calendar moves during its history. Originally, the race was run at the end of May. In 1985, it was moved to September and in 1990 it became a local fixture on the Labor Day holiday. In 2010, the race moved to the end of September with the goal of making it a prep for the Breeders’ Cup.
5) The Woody Stephens-trained Smarten won the first edition of the PA Derby in 1979. He also won the Illinois, Ohio, and American Derbies that year. As a sire, he would produce Canadian Hall of Famer Dance Smartly and star stallion Smart Strike.
6) Only one reigning 3-year-old classic winner has won the Pennsylvania Derby. Summer Squall won the 1990 PA Derby after winning the Preakness. He finished second in the Kentucky Derby.
7) Summing won the Pennsylvania Derby and the Belmont Stakes in 1981 but did so when the PA Derby was run prior to the Belmont Stakes.
8) In 1980 Temperance Hill finished fifth in the second PA Derby. Two weeks later, he won the Belmont Stakes at odds of 53-1 and was later voted the champion 3-year-old of 1980.
9) In 1987, Afleet won the PA Derby and was voted that year’s Horse of the Year in Canada. He also won the Grade 1 Jerome Handicap, finished second in the Met Mile, and was third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint during his 3-year-old campaign. As a sire, he produced dual classic winner Afleet Alex.
10) The 1987 winner, Broad Brush, stands as the most accomplished horse to ever win the PA Derby. He won a total of 14 races from 27 career starts, including the Wood Memorial, the Santa Anita Handicap, and the Suburban Handicap.