2021 Pennsylvania Derby Cheatsheet
By TwinSpires Editorial Team, Sponsored Content

By Vance Hanson (TwinSpires.com)

1. FULSOME (12-1) – Has the benefit of a race (and win) over this track in last month’s Smarty Jones (G3). It wasn’t an especially quick effort, though he didn’t need to be at full throttle against that field. His best places him a cut below the top players here. Indeed, his Indiana Derby (G3) conqueror, Mr. Wireless, sidestepped a class rise this weekend to pursue Sunday’s Oklahoma Derby (G3). Remains with upside and can develop further, but others offer more appeal in this spot.

2. KEEPMEINMIND (8-1) – After a slow start to the season, he’s been much more effective over his past several races. However, he was unable to threaten in the Travers (G1), a function of both a moderate pace and, more significantly, his relatively lesser class. No match for Hot Rod Charlie or Midnight Bourbon in prior attempts against both, and hard to see that confirmed form reversing without unexpected regression on the part of both favorites. Useful inclusion on the lower rungs of the exotics, though.

3. SPEAKER’S CORNER (12-1) – Could not have looked better returning from a 10-month layoff last month, walloping a first-level allowance field by more than five lengths at the Spa. Had beaten some salty competition in his maiden win last fall – Caddo River and Greatest Honour both went on to do decent things – so lots of untapped potential remains for this son of Street Sense. The downside is this is tall order for a colt that has yet to run in an actual stakes, or beyond seven furlongs. Certainly has the pedigree to do better with distance (his second dam won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff [G1]), but seemingly more of a minor award candidate.

4. WEYBURN (12-1) – Although he gave Mandaloun a bit of a scare in the Pegasus S. two back, his two-turn form to this point leaves something to be desired. Failed to capitalize pressing a soft pace in the Wood Memorial (G2) back in April, and petered out after a middle move in the Jim Dandy (G2) last time. His most effective runs have been up to a mile around one turn, the highlight being his upset in the Gotham (G3). Prefer others.

5. I AM REDEEMED (20-1) – Undoubtedly a nice horse with plenty of local experience, but form versus Pennsylvania-breds is unlikely to translate well against this vastly superior quality of competition. In his lone prior attempt against open company, he was second best to a rival that was subsequently unplaced in both the Smarty Jones and an allowance over this track. Figures as the longest price in the race.

6. BOURBONIC (12-1) – The form of that Wood Memorial still has not worked out well, and pretty much demonstrated his place in the pecking order of three-year-olds with his performances in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Belmont S. (G1). A non-threatening third in the West Virginia Derby (G3) to a pair chasing another Grade 3 at Remington Park this weekend, which probably would have been a more manageable spot.

7. HOT ROD CHARLIE (5-2) – Form all season is hard to fault. His Belmont race, especially, was arguably one of the best of the year in a losing effort. Unlucky circumstances cost him the elusive Grade 1 in the Haskell, as he drifted in and caused Midnight Bourbon to clip heels in what could have been more disastrous event. However, worth pointing out he was going far better of the two at the time, so essentially he’s legitimately proven the better of Midnight Bourbon in all three previous showdowns. The closeness of the Haskell finish a tricky read, given the rules in place for encouraging with the whip, but all indicators suggest this favorite is clearly the one to beat.

8. MIDNIGHT BOURBON (5-1) – As noted, no match for Hot Rod Charlie so far. However, that Travers (G1) performance was terrific. Not only did he take the early initiative, he made the division’s best horse work all the way the wire over a distance many have suspected might be a touch far for him. Not only will the shortening up to nine furlongs be beneficial but, with Medina’s Spirit withdrawal, the lead is potentially his for the taking. Like a former Winchell/Asmussen colt (Gun Runner, who finished a close second here in 2016), he might now be hitting his best stride as his sophomore campaign draws to a close. Obvious danger.

9. MEDINA SPIRIT (2-1) – Scratched.

10. AMERICANREVOLUTION (15-1) – A troubled fourth to Mandaloun in his lone start at two, he’s kept to New York-bred competition this term with more-than-satisfactory results. Although he lacks experience against this kind of company, he’s less exposed than many of the others and is certainly bred to more than just a creature of the state-bred ranks. This female family has produced Grade 1-winning mare Stop Traffic and her son, Whitney (G1) scorer Cross Traffic, as well as current graded winners Forza di Oro and Silver Dust. Would not be surprised to see him outrun pari-mutuel expectations.