After producing a trio of subsequent Grade 1 winners in its four-year history, the $500,000 Penn Mile has been upgraded to Grade 2 status in 2017. Saturday’s fifth edition features 10 sophomores headed by Southern California shipper Big Score.
A juvenile stakes winner at Santa Anita, Big Score concluded last year with a fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). The Tim Yakteen-trained colt opened his sophomore campaign with a nice win in the Transylvania (G3), defeating a couple of high-profile rivals in the 1 1/6-mile affair at Keeneland, and the Kentucky-bred son of Mr. Big exits a commendable third behind Arklow and Good Samaritan in a tough edition of the American Turf (G2) on the Kentucky Derby undercard.
The competition doesn’t appear as deep at Penn National and Big Score will keep Javier Castellano in the saddle. Scheduled post time for the Penn Mile is 7:45 p.m. (EDT).
Time to Travel will make his first start on turf but the Michael Matz trainee is certainly bred to handle the sod being a full brother to multiple Grade 1 turf heroine Hard Not to Like. The front-running colt broke his maiden three starts back on the main track at Gulfstream Park and finished fourth when jumping straight to stakes competition in the Lexington (G3) at Keeneland. Time to Travel exits a runner-up effort in the Sir Barton on the Preakness undercard and the son of Hard Spun will regain the services of Edgar Prado.
Bronson posted his first stakes win when taking the grassy English Channel at Gulfstream on May 6 and the improving colt is one of two runners from the Todd Pletcher stable along with Bonus Points, a stakes-placed juvenile on turf who was last seen bagging the May 6 Parx Derby on the main track. Tyler Gaffalione will pick up the mount on Bronson and John Bisono sticks with Bonus Points.
George Weaver will send out a pair in Mo Maverick and Holiday Stone. Mo Maverick brings good speed to the equation following a third-place effort to the impressive Yoshida in the James Murphy at Pimlico. Transylvania runner-up Holiday Score will try to make amends for a disappointing eighth in the American Turf.
Cistron invades from Southern California with plenty of speed but the John Sadler pupil showed nice versatility recording a runner-up finish in the May 13 Desert Code at Santa Anita. Frostmourne, a juvenile turf stakes winner for Christophe Clement, is eligible to show more following a runner-up effort in the April 22 Woodhaven in his seasonal debut. Maiden scorers Prize Fight and Shiraz complete the line-up.
A few races earlier on the program, Adorable Miss will look to keep her momentum rolling in the $200,000 Penn Oaks. She won at first asking in late January for Pletcher and improved to 2-of-2 (both wins on turf) with a convincing tally in the May 6 Honey Ryder at Gulfstream. Castellano rides the Kitten’s Joy filly.
Noble Ready will square off against Adorable Miss once again after finishing second at short odds in the Honey Ryder. The Clement runner has placed in three straight turf stakes and Irad Ortiz Jr. has the assignment.
Eight fillies were entered for the one-mile turf event including Spanish Harlem, who exits a 29-length romp in an off-the-turf allowance race at Belmont Park. Dylan Davis rides for Danny Gargan.
A total of seven stakes will be offered on the 11-race program including the $200,000 Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup for turf sprinters and $200,000 Mountainview at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.
Four-time stakes victor Richard’s Boy, winner of the May 17 Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico, is the one beat among nine horses in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup.
Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup:
Charles Town Classic (G2) runner-up Matt King Coal and 11-time stakes-winning millionaire Page McKenney are part of a contentious six-horse field in the Mountainview.