March 2, 2024

Pioneer of Medina reappears in Smarty Jones, Interstatedaydream tops Cathryn Sophia

Pioneer of Medina at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

Smarty Jones S. (G3) — Race 12 (6:18 p.m. ET)

Pioneer of Medina lands in a softer albeit competitive spot for his first outing since May in Tuesday’s $300,000 Smarty Jones S. (G3) at Parx, a 1 1/16-mile prep for next month’s Pennsylvania Derby (G1).

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Pioneer of Medina spent most of the winter competing at Fair Grounds, where he finished fourth in the Risen Star (G2) and third in the Louisiana Derby (G2), both won by Epicenter. Although he moved on to the Kentucky Derby (G1), Pioneer of Medina offered little when finishing 19th in a field of 20.

Creative Minister, a solid third in the Preakness (G1) in his stakes debut, will look to rebound off a pair of more modest efforts. An even fifth in the Belmont S. (G1), which he lost by 12 lengths, the Kenny McPeek trainee was most recently a distant third in the Curlin S., a restricted stakes at Saratoga.

Two lightly-raced runners in the field of 10 also look competitive. Best Actor finished a half-length second in the July 9 Indiana Derby (G3) in only his third lifetime outing, while Golden Alchemist steps up in class off of a 3 1/2-length maiden win at Saratoga going nine furlongs.

One race earlier, Interstatedaydream looks the filly to beat in the $150,000 Cathryn Sophia S. for three-year-olds over one mile and 70 yards, which serves as a prep for next month’s Cotillion (G1). Interstatedaydream enters off back-to-back wins in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at Pimlico and Indiana Oaks (G3).

The opposition includes Iowa Oaks (G3) heroine Butterbean, multiple graded-placed Shotgun Hottie, and the stakes-winning Green Up, who has won her last three by an average margin of 5 1/2 lengths.