Parx picks and horses to watch: August 23

Parx Racing has a 13-race card on tap for this afternoon. Post time for the opener is 12:55 p.m, and we’ve got Parx picks.

Carryovers: Jackpot Pick, 5 $278,740

Main track muddy, off the turf

Check out our other handicapping here!

Race 113-2-6-1Three scratches knock this race, the local prep for the Cotillion, down to a field of six. We’re going to try for an upset here with Parx lover #3 Morning Matcha (5-1). The Central Banker filly, trained at Parx by Butch Reid, has won all four of her local starts, none of them close; the smallest margin of victory was 3 1/2 lengths, last out she won an allowance by 10, and she also won the Main Line Stakes by almost seven. She hasn’t yet shown she’s in the class of the best of her rivals, but the Parx main track is a bit of a quirky surface, and that she’s shown it suits her very well is a big plus. Just make sure to demand value… The class of this group is Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan winner #2 Interstatedaydream (9-5). Her only defeat this year came when third in the Grade 1 Ashland behind the super-talented Nest. If she fires, and there’s no reason to think she won’t, she’ll be a handful… #6 Shotgun Hottie (4-1) has placed in three straight graded stakes and maks her third start off a three-month break here… #1 Green Up (5-1) is 3-for-3 since switching into the Pletcher barn and has the look of a horse getting good right now…
Race 128-3-6-1The Grade 3 Smarty Jones is the local prep for the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby, though this field is not quite as strong as that in the Cathryn Sophia. Top choice #8 Best Actor (7-2) just missed last out in the Grade 3 Indiana Derby and took the worst of the trip that day, when he stumbled leaving the gate and was wide on both turns. Pilot Florent Geroux comes in for the mount, and Brad Cox trainees are winning just about everywhere… Morning line fave #3 Pioneer of Medina (3-1) had no answers for Epicenter in two races earlier this year at the Fair Grounds and had no answers for anybody when 19th in the Kentucky Derby. But trainer Todd Pletcher gave him a nice break after the Derby, and he should be fresh today. Pletcher wins at 24% clip off similar layoffs, and Irad Ortiz comes in for the mount…#6 Practical Coach (12-1) has been much improved since getting a couple of months off and enters this on a two-race win streak. He’ll need to take a step forward to contend, but in his third off the bench, that’s not out of the realm… #1 Golden Alchemist (4-1) won nicely last out at the Spa to graduate and retains rider Flavien Prat…