BENSALEM, Pa. — Saudi Crown led all the way to win the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby by a half-length on a sloppy track Saturday at Parx Racing.
Tropical Storm Ophelia brought rain to the suburban Philadelphia track, where Saudi Crown outlasted a late challenge from Dreamlike to win his first career Grade 1 stakes.
“He broke like a rocket and from there I thought I was in a great spot,” winning jockey Florent Geroux said. “He’s a 3-year-old this year. It’s just too bad because he came very late to the party.”
Saudi Crown ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.62. He paid $4.20, $3 and $2.60 to win as the wagering for trainer Brad Cox. Saudi Crown is a son of 2017 Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming.
Saudi Crown had been idle since finishing a nose behind Forte in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 29. He was also second by a nose in the Dwyer at Belmont on May 21.
“He gained a lot of experience and has been battle-tested in his last two runs,” Cox said. "He is two noses from being undefeated. Very proud of what he did.”
Cox said Saudi Crown could run in the Breeders' Cup Classic in November at Santa Anita.
Dreamlike returned $7 and $4.80.
“He was closing,” Dreamlike's jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said. "For a second I thought if that horse (Saudi Crown) would just come back a little I could get there.”
Il Miracolo was another six lengths back in third and paid $7.60 to show.
Jessica Paquette became the first woman to call a Grade 1 stakes in North America. The 38-year-old was hired as track announcer last November.
Magic Tap was fourth, followed by Crupi, the Bob Baffert-trained Reincarnate, Gilmore, Daydreaming Boy, West Coast Cowboy, Scotland and Modern Era.