The spotlight of the thoroughbred racing world will be shining on Parx Racing in Bensalem on Saturday, September 24th as the stars of the sport come to Pennsylvania for the $1M Pennsylvania Derby. The elite race day also features a superb stakes-filled card including the $200,000 Alphabet Soup Handicap for PA Bred; the $200,000 GIII Turf Monster; $300,000 GII Gallant Bob; and the prestigious GI $1M Cotillion Stakes.

The Cotillion Stakes is a race for 3-year-old fillies at a distance of 1 1/16 miles. Past winners have included the 2019 Champion Older Female Horse Midnight Bisou (2018); two-time Eclipse

Photo Credit to the PTHA

Award winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies champion Songbird (2016); 2014 Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable (2014): and 2011 Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty, who now has a race named in her honor on PA Derby Day.

In 2021, nine fillies entered, and going into the elite race, seven had already won a graded stake. Morning Line favorite was Maracuja, the daughter of Honor Code, trained by Rob Atras for Beach Haven Thoroughbreds LLC, but when the gate opened, it was Clairiere in a furious five-wide rally in the stretch to a win by 2 1/2 lengths for the daughter of the great Curlin (Cavorting by Bernardini).
Danielle Gibson, Public Relations Director for the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (PTHA), as well as co-host of the show ‘Let’s Go Racing’ with the lengendary Dick Gerardi, looked back at last year’s race and remembered how thrilling it was to have such star power once again at Parx. “We were super lucky to have Clairiere, an extremely well-bred filly with multiple Grade I wins for Stonestreet Stables and trainer Steve Asmussen, who is a Hall of Fame trainer. It was such a thrilling race!”
“It’s just really cool that these Hall of Fame trainers find that the Grade I Cotillion is that important that they are bringing the quality of these horses here.”
“We’ve also had famous horses like Jostle (Brocco – Moon Drone – Drone), a local horse, for (Smarty Jones’ trainer) John Servis,” Dani remembered. Jostle won the Cotillion in 2000, and her impressive season included wins in the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga and the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico.
2016 saw the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies champion make her way to Parx, and she was a huge Parx-crowd favorite. “I don’t think it gets any bigger than Songbird!” Dani said enthusiastically.
Dani pointed out, also, that the local horses have held their own and have been extremely competitive in the race.
“It’s been such a strong race, and it’s a $1M race for fillies, and there’s not that many $1M filly races. And for them to come here, it’s a testament to Pennsylvania racing. It’s thestandout race for fillies of the year, other than the Grade I Alabama at Saratoga, and that’s not even $1M.”
This year, the race will be another thrilling one, and Dani said the most exciting news is the entry of a fan favorite, who finished a strong 2nd in the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga. “The Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath (Arrogate – Absinthe Minded – Quiet American) trained by the D. Wayne Lukas is entering!” The 87-year old Hall of Fame trainer has yet to win a Cotillion at Parx.
The Cotillion has drawn 16 nominations, including the Bob-Baffert trained Adare Manor, daughter of Uncle Mo; Green Up and Shahama, both trained by Todd Pletcher; the New York-bred David Donk-trained Fingal’s Cave, undefeated in four career starts; and Bazinga C, trained by Timothy Kreiser.*
After the Cotillion, the top fillies are primed and ready for the world championship. “The timing of the Cotillion lines up nicely so that they can go right to the Breeders’ Cup in November,” Dani said.
As Parx prepares for their big race day, the level of excitement is high, and the pride for such tremendous racing is strong. “Both Parx and the PTHA are extremely proud that we are getting that level of horses, and our best local horses, that support our racing here in Pennsylvania. We are looking forward to a great day!”
Cover Photo Credit to the PTHA
Source: Paulick Report
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