The two marquee events on Parx Racing’s schedule – the Pennsylvania Derby and the Cotillion Stakes – are returning to the Pennsylvania track’s schedule after a year’s hiatus.
The track announced its 2021 fall stakes schedule on Tuesday. The $1 million Pennsylvania Derby, one of the fall’s signature 3-year-old races, headlines the Saturday, Sept. 25 card. Along with the $1 million Cotilion, which sends 3-year-old fillies 1 1/16 miles, the 1 1/8-mile Pennsylvania Derby anchors a nine-stakes card that day.
“Other tracks have had a lot of success both from a wagering standpoint and being able to create a buzz running several of their major races on the same card,” said David Osojnak, Parx’s director of racing, in a statement. “The goal is to continue to expand the Pennsylvania Derby/Cotillion card into one of the premier days in the fall racing schedule.”
Six of the day’s stakes are graded. Along with the Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion, Parx will offer the Grade 2 Gallant Bob, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds, and three Grade 3s. Those are the Turf Monster (five furlongs on turf for 3-year-olds and up), the Dr. James Penny Memorial (fillies and mares 3-and-up going 1 1/16 miles), and the Greenwood Cup (3-and-up going 1 ½ miles).
Combined, the six graded stakes offer $3 million in purses.
Pennsylvania Derby victim of scheduling
Last year, Parx’s two Grade 1 events were casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the two races hit the sidelines because of pandemic-related scheduling fallout. The revamped 2020 fall Triple Crown schedule — with the Kentucky Derby running in early September and the Preakness on the first Saturday in October — meant there was no room on the schedule for the Pennsylvania Derby.
The Pennsylvania Derby is one of those races that draws respectable fields given its fall place on the schedule. Going into last year, it drew the Kentucky Derby champion twice since 2014. That record doesn’t include standouts like 2018 winner McKinzie, 2017 champion West Coast and 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern. He beat Kentucky Derby champion California Chrome that year.
Along with that stellar card, Parx will offer 12 Pennsylvania-bred races, and all of those stakes will run Lasix-free this year. The track banned the anti-bleeding medication for all its graded stakes races this year.