Penn National
Racing at Penn National. File photo by The Racing Biz.

The rains that forced Friday’s $300,000 Penn Mile from the turf to the main track were sweet music for three-year-old Gershwin.

The Distorted Humor colt, racing in an off-the-turf contest for the third time in five career starts, stalked the pace from third early before blowing past The King Cheek in upper stretch and went on to win the Grade 3 event by two lengths.

Gershwin, a homebred for Godolphin LLC trained by Michael Stidham, now has two wins from five starts and earnings of $249,600. Both of his victories – a maiden score at the Fair Grounds in February and now this one – have come in races scheduled for the turf but switched to the main track.

Sibelius, under Jorge Ruiz, broke alertly to set the early tempo while taking heat from The King Cheek and Jaime Rodriguez. That duo was one-two through an opening half-mile in 49.13 seconds and, though switching positions, remained the top pair through three-quarters in 1:13.75.

Meanwhile, jockey Joe Bravo had Gershwin well placed a couple of lengths away and racing in the clear over the sloppy main track.

Rounding the far turn, Gershwin went to the attack, coming widest of all while Sibelius packed it in. The latter would fade to last.

Gershwin confronted The King Cheek in upper stretch, took command, and drew off while hand ridden late. The King Cheek was a clear second, six lengths ahead of Chess’s Dream, who rallied from last of the quintet to finish third. Running time for the flat mile over a sloppy track was 1:39.24.

Off as the second choice in the wide-open field, Gershwin paid $6.80 to win. He topped an exacta worth $34.60 for two dollars.

Because of the surface change from turf to dirt, the Penn Mile will be recorded this year as a Grade 3. It will return to Grade 2 status when returned to the turf.

The Penn Mile was preceded by three other stakes. In the $100,000 Penn Oaks, Orbs Baby Girl led throughout to romp home five lengths clear of 3-10 favorite Amalfi Princess. Orbs Baby Girl, trained by Anthony Margotta for A R M Racing, now has two wins from six starts.

Favorites also met defeat in two Pennsylvania-bred stakes on the card. Ravens Delight, with Julio Hernandez up for Demelza McMahon, held off favored Chilly in Charge to win the $100,000 With Anticipation for older runners. And in the Lyphard for fillies and mares, Trolley Ride narrowly bested Midnight Obsession by a half-length; those two were 19 lengths clear of the rest as favored Ujjayi was pulled up and vanned off.

Handle on the 11-race program was a bit under $2.3 million. The last time the Penn Mile was conducted, in 2019, the then-12-race program handled almost $3.7 million. That year, the weather was clear and races were on the turf.