Cotillion Stakes (Grade 1)- $1,000.000 Purse
PRX- For Fillies Three Years Old
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Dirt
September 23, 2023
The eyes of the racing world will turn to PRX this weekend, with a group of very meaningful races. None will be bigger than the two that finish off the stakes portion of the card, and here we will take a look at one of them: the 16th running of the Cotillion Stakes. Whenever this race is held, you can count on seeing some of the best three-year-old fillies involved, and several of them will be heading to SA for the BC in six weeks. The list of past winners is impressive, including Mrs Bombastic in 2010, Karloff in 2013, and Naples in 2021. Several others could be named there as well! In 2022, the winning filly was Third Gear, for Smokey Stover, and she would go on to place sixth in the BC Distaff later on. She’s still active but hasn’t raced since early July. The filly who ended up winning the BC Distaff, Karloffs Monster, was also a participant in the Cotillion as she ran fourth in this race. That goes to show the overall strength that this field will have, year after year. So, buckle up, it’s time to do it again! The gate is full to capacity, so let’s take a look at our field!
#1- Groovy (Calia Stable, Ar Bocachica)- I was a little surprised when I looked at this filly and saw that she only had one win. It seems as though she has been around for a while and has done a lot more than that. Perhaps, it is just a case of her always ending up in the races I write up. She does only have the one victory in her eleven starts, but she also very nearly won the Davona Dale (Grade 2) in March but lost the head bob at the wire to Fire Artiste. A month later, she was third in the Grade 1 Ashland, so the strong performances are there, just not the wins. We haven’t seen a lot of her lately at this level, and that always begs the question of “why not”. Struggled in the mud at a SAR allowance for her last start.
#2- Wavy Girl (Saratoga Stud, ridden by P Lopez)- The trainer picked himself up a good one when he bought Wavy Girl unraced for $75.000 last year, though he started off a little conservative with her race schedule. Wavy Girl kept responding to the challenges she was given, and would get her first graded race this June, in the Summertime Oaks (Grade 2). After running third there, it was off to the Grade 3 IA Oaks, and if you were not impressed by that because of the small field, hopefully you became a believer after she scored a 101 SRF in her victory at the Grade 1 Hirsch at DMR last month. I don’t think she’s peaked yet, and I also like how she knows how to get it done at the end. Very intriguing in this field, but everyone is good!
#3- Ignore Tucker (Fractious, ridden by M Franco)- Certainly not a filly that you want to ignore in this race, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see her odds climb into the double digits. If so, she can reward her supporters nicely if the version of her that finished third in the Grade 3 Fantasy (by half a length) at OP shows up, or if she repeats her form from her last start when she won the $200.000 Fleet Indian for NY breds at the Spa last month. But that’s the issue with her, because she wasn’t good in the Grade 1 CCA Oaks or the Eight Belles. I wouldn’t go as far to say she is inconsistent, but in a field of this quality, others are more appealing. Consider her though, if those odds really climb.
#4- La Roo (Our Athletes, ridden by T Gaffalione)- Was stronger at the start of the year than she has been in her last couple races. You had to like what you saw early on, with a win in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel, then barely missing out in the GP Oaks, settling for second. Those efforts sent her to the KYO, and despite being a 26/1 longshot, she cashed in on a fourth-place check. Continued to run well after, too, winning the Summertime Oaks right after it. Then, things have changed, as in her last two starts, she was a non-factor. It’s not a long enough streak to be overly concerned, and maybe she just didn’t like SAR, but she could really use a nice bounce back here.
#5- Muddy Buddy (Mb Stables, ridden by Ru Silvera)- Mb Stables only brings one horse to the race, but when you look at how this filly has run of late, she doesn’t need a stable buddy. She’s won three of her last four, a stretch that started with the Grade 3 Gazelle in April. Next up would be the KYO, and that’s the one race in the stretch that she did not win. Unfortunately, she also didn’t do much of anything, only being able to finish tenth. This won’t be the only time we mention the KYO here, so it needs to be mentioned that in it, 12 of the 14 runners were separated by two or less lengths. Muddy Buddy responded afterwards by winning the DEL Oaks, and then the Alabama at SAR. Should be good here as well.
#6- Victorious Secret (Acber Farms, ridden by D Davis)- One of the more lightly races fillies in the field, but she has been productive when she has been out there: hitting the board in six of her eight races. Three of them are wins, highlighted by the $250.000 NM Breeders Oaks at SUN in late March. That’s the race that moved her into graded company, and while she is yet to win one, there is nothing wrong her results. Had one of those classically frustrating for anyone “fifth but within a length of the win” finishes in the Eight Belles, then ran third in the Acorn a month later. That big results sent her to MTH, but so did the rain, and she handled the slop well in her second-place effort at the MTH Oaks. This filly hasn’t peaked yet, and with two months of rest, she’s ready to roll.
#7- Blind Appeal (Nakamura Stables, ridden by D E Centeno)- The last two races for Blind Appeal are exactly the same as Victorious Secret. Unlike her starting gate neighbor, she was not productive in either of them, finishing eighth in both. In the MTH Oaks, she really didn’t like the slop, being beaten by seven lengths. Therein lies the problem with Blind Appeal, and all it takes is looking at her record: in eight starts, four wins and four out of the money finishes. Her last win was in May, taking the Grade 2 Black Eyed Susan, and that’s quite a score, but we have not seen that enough! Probably a horse that has “Dry track only” checked, and there is a 71% chance of rain as of now, but we are four days away.
#8- The Hateful Eight (Smokey Stover, ridden by A R Rodriguez)- Starts in the post that she probably should be in, and now will look to hit the board for the eighth time in her career. Even better, if she can get the win here it will be her first stake triumph. She’s been close, running third in the Grade 3 Selene Stakes up at WO, and then almost getting it in the CCA Oaks at SAR six weeks later. In that, she was second, losing in a photo to Scarlet Dream, who she will be seeing again here. A month later, she still ran third in the Alabama, but was not quite as good as she was in the CCA Oaks. Her dam, Quiver Pond, is a BC champion on the grass, and if The Hateful Eight can’t get it done here, I wonder if we’ll see her get a shot there.
#9- Celine (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by J C Ferrer)- At the start of the year, Celine looked strong and won the SA Oaks in April, her second win in a span of three of weeks. That allowed her to take part in the KYO, and she’s another example of needing to look past the actual finishing position and see how closely packed that finish was. If there was any concern about the Distant Sunset filly, that was erased in her next race, when she placed second in the Acorn with a good come from behind effort. Most recently, she was at the Alabama and came from behind to be second. Frontrunners need to be looking over their shoulder to find where she is for the stretch run.
#10- Snake Island (Night Mare Racing, ridden by J Lezcano)- Made an impression as a two-year-old with back-to-back wins in NY-bred stakes, which included the $500.000 Fifth Avenue in mid-December at AQU. She was able to carry that form into her three-year-old season, even if the first race of the year did not go according to plan. In April, she would win the Grade 3 Fantasy at OP, and that would allow her to run in the KYO. In a hotly contested race, Snake Island nearly became legendary, but had to settle for second as she lost the head bob at the wire to Yow. She’ll see that one again, here! More recently, she comes out of a third-place run at the CCA Oaks, and should be in the mix here as well. But so many will do the same.
#11- Scarlett Dream (Arindel, ridden by L Saez)- I like the overall consistency of this filly, as only once in her career as she finished out of the top four. When you’re running in a bunch of stakes, getting a little something to show for it is never a bad thing. Of course, we all know you don’t really “win” anything with a fourth-place finish, and that’s where she has been in three of her last four races. Those were some of the best races out there: the KYO, the Acorn, and the Alabama, so we know that Scarlett Dream can step up against the best. In that stretch, she also has a win, that being the CCA Oaks, where she beat several of those, we are seeing her. The Cotillion has all the looks of being another tight, jam-packed finish like the KYO, and a horse that knows how to be close is appealing in that.
#12- Queen Evade Party (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by El Ruiz)- Picked up by the trainer in private sales for $80.000, and Maxmillion Farm has done a good job bringing her forward as a three-year-old. She had flashed potential, which got the price tag that prior trainer Tockyocky got, and delivered with a stake win in June, the $175.000 Monomoy Girl. Since she was a little slower to get going, she missed out on the KYO preps, but has worked her way up well to this level of competition now. Placed fourth in the CCA Oaks, being right in the thick of it against some of the bigger names in this race, then went to the bullring at CT and ran second in the CT Oaks. Even though one should never overlook a Maxmillion Farm horse, I could see her getting passed by a bit at the betting window here.
#13- Yow (Royalty Stables, ridden J R Velazquez)- If you were getting worried that we might not have our KYO winner in this field, now you can relax. The post-position draw did not do Yow any favors, but she did win the KYO from post 10, and I don’t believe the outside posts are as big of a deal now as they had been in the past. Winning the KYO was not a fluke, even if she was 18/1 for the race, as she has continued to run well after. She followed that up by winning the Grade 1 Acorn, and let’s recognize that incredible accomplishment, because it’s something very tough to pull off. Her last two races are not exciting, each coming at SAR, and finishing close to the back of the field in the CCA Oaks and Alabama. Alot of these ran in one of both of them, too, so while I could forgive one bad race out of them, it’s concerning that they both were. Absolutely do not write her off yet, but for the Cotillion, I have to look elsewhere, despite her accolades from earlier this year.
#14- Lucky Star (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by R E Eramia)- Maxmillion Farm paid ten times as much for Lucky Star as he did for Queen Evade Party, bringing her to the stable for $800.000 in May after winning the Grade 2 Edgewood. Prior to that race, she was successful at FG, and ran second in the Alexandra Stakes. Also won the Grade 2 Demoiselle in December as a two-year-old. When she was entered into the Edgewood, it was her turf debut, but that was not the plan for Maxmillion Farm to continue to that. He would enter her into the DEL Oaks, where she was second, and then cut her distance back a tad for the Grade 1 Test at SAR, where it was one of those frustrating close fifths. Did run on the grass for her last start, because why not, it’s the $750.000 Music City Stakes at KD. Third there, so she will have a future on the turf for sure, but for now, it’s the main track against some elite fillies.
Prediction: Before I make my picks, I just have to say that this is a classic Cotillion field that is loaded. I can legitimately see pretty much every horse winning this race if all goes well for them, it’s that good of a race. As of now, weather is a concern, as there is a 71% chance of showers, but we are four days out. Let’s hope for the best, because these fillies deserve to race on a fast track. As for my picks, I’ll go: 5-2-11-9. If it rains, watch for #14 Lucky Star and #6 Victorious Secret a lot more.