Favorite Taiba Wins Pennsylvania Derby, Caps Grade 1 Double On Parx Card For Sire Gun Runner

Taiba stormed down the center of the track and won the $1-million Pennsylvania Derby (G1) as Zandon closed last on the rail to take second Saturday at Parx Racing.

Sent away the favorite under Mike Smith, Taiba won by three lengths and covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.67. He entered the race after finishing a head second to Cyberknife in the TVG Haskell Stakes (G1) Aug. 23 at Monmouth Park but easily bested that rival Saturday as Cyberknife was third, 3 3/4 lengths back.

Taiba dueled for command early with White Abarrio then settled into a close-up fourth as Smith bided his time. Angling wide while advancing nearing the quarter pole, the colt was ready to run on cue, grabbed command in early stretch, and drew clear, posting his third win from five career starts, including his Runhappy Santa Anita Derby (G1) in April. He was unraced last year.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert for Zedan Racing, Stables, Taiba is by Three Chimneys Farm resident sire Gun Runner, whose 3-year-old daughter Society won the $1-million Cotillion one race earlier of the card.

Taiba, who returned $4.80, will point to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) Nov. 5 at Keeneland, Baffert said, adding that he is not looking forward to running against Flightline and Life Is Good.

Bred in Kentucky by Bruce C. Ryan, his dam is the Flatter mare Needmore Flattery. Hartey/De Renzo Thoroughbreds sold him to agent Gary Young for $1.7 million at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Florida Select Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale and thus far he has earned $1,236,200 in his racing career.

Trainer Bob Baffert (Taiba, first): “That was exciting. He did it. He ran his race. He is getting better and better. He is a horse that has been slowly improving. He had a little bit of a rough trip in the Haskell, but we had some time to get him ready for this one. He proved today he is a good horse. It was the last chance to run a Grade 1 against 3-year-olds and it was a tough race, a good field. The main thing is that he ran his race. I was a little worried when he was down on the inside because he doesn’t like being on the inside. When he tipped to the outside, he just took off.”

“Gun Runner is an unbelievable sire and this guy looks more like Gun Runner than a lot of them. I was just so excited watching it. I was not loving it on the backside, but once he tipped out it was like, ‘wow! Look at this guy!’ We have such a great team and to get rewarded with a win like this makes it all worth it. Fantastic.

Where does he rank with the 3-year-olds: “You want to be the best 3-year-old. This was the spot that puts him right there. He is just a tough horse. He is powerful. He is a heavily muscled horse and you would not think he would run this far. He has speed but he will sit behind horses. He comes running and he is just a fighter.

He does not really like to train, does he: “He will train, but he is a little lazy. Lately, though, he has been very willing. I can see the improvement. Today was his day. I really think he is starting to figure it out. I’m just happy he was able to win another Grade 1. I have always enjoyed having horses in the Pennsylvania Derby. They treat you well there.”

Gary Young (Bloodstock agent for winning owner Amr Zedan’s Zedan Racing Stables): “We thought an effort like this was going to be what we got. He was much more comfortable down inside horses today than he was in the Haskell. Once he got him outside coming to the top of the stretch the race was over. He has a really good turn of foot, he was good in the paddock, good in the post parade, kind of what we expected. we always said that this horse has a lot of room for improvement and we think next year he will be even better than he is next year and he is pretty damn good this year.”

Joel Rosario (Zandon, second): “He saved ground and everything, came home strong, but just wasn’t the winner today. It looked like for a second we were going to go get him, but it always looked like the winner would be a little bit better at the end.”

Trainer Brad Cox (Cyberknife, third): “He ran good. I’m not certain this is his track. He galloped over it a few days but it is what it is. No excuses today. He was third best honestly. When they broke they got away from him a little bit but it is what it is. He was maybe a little further back than we expected. He had to move him early to get into position and obviously the winner was kind of gone at that point. Overall, it was a good effort. He ran on, I just wish he was running on in front.

What could be next: “I don’t know. It’s real tricky. It’s a bad year to have a good horse is what I say.”

Maybe the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile: “It’s possible. We’ll look at that. That might be better option (versus the Classic). But we’ll let the dust settle and see what everyone else is doing, see how he comes out of it and go from there. You never know.”

Jockey Florent Geroux (Cyberknife, third): “He didn’t seem to really like the track, he was never really on the bridle. He was way farther back than he usually is, kind of throwing his head at the kickback. He finished nice at the end, but I didn’t like the way he was traveling all around.”

Trainer Antonio Sano (Simplification, fourth): It was a good race and the horse came back good. The horse doesn’t like it, to be close the front like that. Next time.”

Jockey Paco Lopez (Simplification, 4th): “We couldn’t hold show and ran fourth, but my horse was very good.  He was running in second early. He was running very well. I wasn’t really where I wanted to be. I kind of wanted to be maybe third or fourth, but I really didn’t have any choice. I had a bunch of horses to my inside, and I couldn’t hold them. He tried hard, no excuse, but I think the other horses had the best of him. I think the top three were the horses that were much the best. The winner, [Taiba], I kept an eye on them the whole way on the first turn, but on the second turn I saw him on the outside and he was flying. Not much I could do.”

The post Favorite Taiba Wins Pennsylvania Derby, Caps Grade 1 Double On Parx Card For Sire Gun Runner appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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