Taiba tabbed as Pennsylvania Derby favorite

Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby winner Taiba is the 5-2 morning line favorite in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby.

The Derby is one of two $1 million races on the Parx Racing card Saturday. Also on the docket is the $1 million, Grade 1 Cotillion for three-year-old fillies. The D. Wayne Lukas-trained Secret Oath is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the Cotillion.

Taiba won the first two starts of his career, including his Santa Anita Derby score, to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby, in which he finished 12th. Last time out, he was the runner-up to Cyberknife in the Grade 1 Haskell July 23 at Monmouth Park.

“He has been training well,” Taiba’s trainer, Bob Baffer, said. “I thought his Haskell was really strong and he got beat by a nice horse (Cyberknife). He is doing well right now.”

Cyberknife, whose Haskell victory was his second in Grade 1 company, most recently finished second behind Epicenter in the Grade 1 Travers. He has five wins from 10 starts for trainer Brad Cox and owner Gold Square LLC.

Cyberknife is 3-1 on the morning line and will have Florent Gerous in the irons.

Cox has a pair entered in the Derby, with multiple Grade 3 winner Tawny Port also scheduled to face the starter. He finished third in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy last out, and prior to that had won the Grade 3 Ohio Derby. He finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby.

Tawny Port is owned by Peachtree Stable and is 6-1 on the morning line.

“I talked it over with John (Fort of Peachtree Stable) and we decided we wanted to give him some time after the Jim Dandy,” Cox said. “He ran well, we gave him a shot.”

Cyberknife prevailed over Taiba in the Haskell. Photo Nikki Sherman/EQUI-PHOTO.

Only two other runners are lined in single digits.

Zandon, the Chad Brown trainee who dazzled in the Bluegrass Stakes in April, is 5-1 on the morning line and will have Joel Rosario up. He has never been worse than third in seven career starts, including third-place finishes in the Kentucky Derby and Travers and a second in the Jim Dandy. 

White Abarrio (8-1) will have Luis Saez up for Saffie Joseph, Jr. when he leaves from the farthest outside post of the 11 runners. The winner of the Grade 1 Florida Derby earlier this year, his more recet efforts haven’t been quite so strong, and he arrives off a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Haskell.

The Pennsylvania Derby will go as the twelfth race on the card, one race after the Cotillion.

Secret Oath, the winner of the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, has kept rough company of late. She finished fourth in the Grade 1 Preakness in her first post-Oaks start and has been second behind the increasingly impressive Nest in each of her last two outings.

Saez has the mount on Secret Oath.

The Cotillion field also includes familiar names like Cathryn Sophia Stakes winner Green Up (6-1), Black-Eyed Susan runner-up Adare Manor (7-2), and local hopeful Morning Matcha, third in both the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks and the Cathryn Sophia.


1.ZandonJoel RosarioChad Brown5-1
2.Icy StormJeremy LapridaFelix Flores-Coba30-1
3.B DawkFrankie PenningtonDoug O’Neill20-1
4.SkippylongstockingEdwin GonzalezSaffie Joseph, Jr.10-1
5.CyberknifeFlorent GerouxBrad Cox3-1
6.We the PeopleFlavien PratRodolphe Brisset12-1
7.Tawny PortIrad Ortiz, Jr.Brad Cox6-1
8.TaibaMike SmithBob Baffert5-2
9.SimplificationPaco LopezAntonio Sano10-1
10.Naval AviatorAbner AdornoJoe Sharp20-1
11.White AbarrioLuis SaezSaffie Joseph, Jr.8-1