A star-stuffed field of 11 fillies will battle this Saturday in the $1,000,000 Cotillion Stakes (G1) at Parx. That race, as well as the Pennsylvania Derby (G1), will be televised on NBC starting at 5:00 PM ET.
Last year, the Cotillion gave us one of the most thrilling finishes of the year between Monomoy Girl and Midnight Bisou. Monomoy Girl hit the wire first, but she was then disqualified for interference, making Midnight Bisou the winner. Monomoy Girl got the last laugh, though, as she went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Longines Distaff (G1) in her next start. This year, the Chad Brown-trained Guarana will try for her third straight Grade 1 victory, while Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Serengeti Empress will look to get revenge on Guarana after losing to her in the Acorn Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park. These two are widely considered to be among the best 3-year-old females in the country.
The winner of the Cotillion will receive an automatic position in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Longines Distaff (G1) this fall at Santa Anita Park. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of California will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
Here is a look at the full field:
#1 Serengeti Empress – The Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner is looking for her first victory since then, though she has performed very well in her last two starts. The race immediately following the Oaks was the Acorn Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park, where she was a solid second to Guarana. In her last start, she met up with Covfefe in the Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, where she once again ran a “too good to lose” second. Unfortunately, the competition doesn’t get any easier for her here, but expect her to show up with a big effort.
#2 Afleet Destiny – With just one victory in 14 starts, this looks like it could be quite the challenge. However, she has faced some of the best horses in the crop, so this level of competition will not intimidate her. Two races back, she was fifth in the Alabama Stakes (G1), then finished fourth in the Cathryn Sophia Stakes last time out at Parx.
#3 Street Band – Aside from a disappointing run in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), this filly has performed very well this year. Two races back, she simply dominated her competition in the Indiana Oaks (G3), earning her a shot in the Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga next time out. She showed up with a solid effort once again, finishing third while only missing second by a nose. Larry Jones has her in top form.
#4 Jeltrin – If last time out was any indication, then this filly loves Parx. She destroyed her competition by over 7 lengths in the Cathryn Sophia Stakes, the local prep race for this event. The confidence from that effort should help a horse that has suffered tough losses to top-notch competition lately. She is ready to give it another shot in this spot.
#5 Collegeville Girl – A recent allowance victory over this track gave her connections the confidence to make her first start going two turns. Her 7-furlong romp in that event should be a good prep for this race. She seems to be improving at the right time for strong local connections.
#6 Horologist – This filly rides a four-race win streak into what the biggest challenge of her career. After two allowance victories, she moved up to stakes company two starts back, winning the Smart N Classy Handicap at Monmouth Park. That earned her a shot in the Monmouth Park Oaks (G3) next, where she was able to defeat rival Jaywalk by 3/4 of a length with a nice inside rally along the rail. This is her next logical step.
#7 She Makes Me Smile – She comes into this race as a longshot after a disappointing sixth in the Cathryn Sophia Stakes last time out. She has compiled five victories this season, all in claiming races. This will be the biggest test of her career.
#8 Guarana – After breaking her maiden by 14 lengths on debut, Chad Brown sent this filly straight to the Acorn Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park, where she was able to defeat the Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress. Next time out, she picked up her first victory around two turns, defeating a fast-closing Point of Honor in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at Saratoga. A win here could make this undefeated runner a lock for 3-Year-Old Female Eclipse Award honors.
#9 Sweet Sami D – Four races back, this filly burst onto the scene with a dominating 20 3/4-length allowance victory at Monmouth Park. She has yet to win since then, however, losing her next three starts. However, last time out, she was a solid third in the Monmouth Park Oaks (G3), which was good enough to give this race a try.
#10 Bellafina – At one time this season, Bellafina was the top 3-year-old filly in the country. She went into the Kentucky Oaks (G1) as a heavy 9/5 favorite, but she could do no better than fifth. After a three-month layoff, she returned last time out in the 7-furlong Test Stakes (G1), where she was a well-beaten third. Perhaps stretching back out in distance can help her get back to top form. She has room to improve in her second start off of the layoff.
#11 Jaywalk – Can the 2-Year-Old Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner earn her way back. to the Breeders’ Cup with a win here? It is hard to believe that this year, she has just one win under her belt, the Delaware Oaks (G3) two starts back. Last time out, she was upset by Horologist despite being bet down to 1/5 favoritism in the Monmouth Park Oaks (G3). It’s encouraging that her connections still believe that she can win a race of this magnitude.
The Cotillion Stakes serves as the only Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event this weekend. Parx will also host the Pennsylvania Derby (G1), which could have a major impact on the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on Friday, September 27, at Santa Anita Park with the running of the American Pharoah Stakes (TVG Juvenile) and the Chandelier Stakes (Juvenile Fillies). On Saturday, September 28, Santa Anita Park hosts two more key races: the Rodeo Drive Stakes (Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf) and the Awesome Again Stakes (Classic). Belmont Park will also host the Vosburgh (Sprint) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (Classic) on the 28.
The weekend’s action ends on Sunday, September 29, back at Santa Anita Park with the Zenyatta Stakes (Longines Distaff).