Very often, the filly race on the card outshines the colt race, and Pennsylvania/Cotillion Day at Parx Racing might as well belong to the fillies despite the presence of California Chrome. With three extremely gifted G1 winners shipping in and a medley of improvers and value horses loading up for the $1 million prize, it’s going to be a great race and one that could determine the Eclipse Award for best three-year-old filly. Pennsylvania Derby thoughts— I’m going with California Chrome to run back well enough to win.
$1 million Cotillion Stakes (I) - 3-Year-Old Fillies. 1 1/16 miles on dirt at Parx Racing. Post Time: Saturday, September 20 at 4:45pm EST.
[Post Position, Horse - Jockey, Impost, Trainer - Summary, Opinion in italics]
1) Cassatt - Kerwin Clark, 122 lbs, Larry Jones - Lightly raced but toting an undefeated 3-for-3 record as a three-year-old, the masterful Larry Jones brings back his filly game strong with underdog Cassatt, who steps it up here following an easy 4-length score in the Monmouth Oaks (III). Larry Jones has had great success with fillies and Fox Hill Farm’s stock, as indicated by Horse of the Year Havre de Grace. She will have to step her game up, but looks like a really nice filly with good current form. Could be a factor and I’m not going to overlook her chances.
2) Sweet Reason - Irad Ortiz Jr, 124 lbs, Leah Gyarmati - Few fillies have been as impressive as Sweet this year, as the Street Sense filly logged back-to-back G1 scores in New York over shorter distances to add to her G1 win as a two-year-old. Wielding some strong class, Sweet likes to attack late from off-the-pace which could favor her here, but has shown she does not like going much further than sprints. The pace could very well favor her in the end, but only if she wants it.
3) House Rules - Javier Castellano, 119 lbs, James Jerkens - Liked this Distorted Humor filly a lot as a two-year-old, and she kind of fell off the bus up until recently, winning an allowance at Saratoga or should I say dominating by 6 1/2 lengths. On the improving path, House Rules ought to like the distance well enough and gets Castellano to ride. Upset potential.
4) Joint Return - Kendrick Carmouche, 119 lbs, John Servis - Winner of 4 of 8 starts this year, the Include filly is well-versed at Parx already, winning 2 of her 3 starts here and has a bit of street cred, falling just a bit short of a length to Stopchargingmaria in the Alabama (I) last out. Servis and Carmouche have a 22% win percentage each here and Joint Return looks to be doing well. Upset potential with that off-the-pace move she likes.
5) Vero Amore - Frankie Pennington, 119 lbs, Robert Reid - A shocking 2nd to Stopchargingmaria in the Black-Eyed Susan (II) this spring, the Mineshaft filly has since taken a step back at the graded level and even tried turf (unsuccessfully). Locally hot connections hope to bring her back strongly here, but she has yet to win this year and may not have enough to crack into the picture.
6) Little Alexis - Joel Rosario, 119 lbs, Carlos Vaccarezza - Finishing a very strong 3rd last out in the Test where she missed the place by just a nose, the Mr. Greeley daughter will stretch out past sprint distances for the first time while returning to Carlos Vaccarezza. She ran great in the stretch of the Test, and will likely need a hot pace here to do well. Can she route? We’ll see.
7) Jojo Warrior - Martin Garcia, 119 lbs, Bob Baffert - The Pioneerof the Nile filly ships out following her win in the 1-mile Torrey Pines (III) on Del Mar’s polytrack surface, making that two races in a row she has won running on the lead. Baffert horses tend to ship out well, and I don’t think she will oppose being placed back on a dirt surface and probably wanted extra distance this whole time. Class level will be a big challenge in addition to pace as she won those recent starts with an uncontested lead.
8) Untapable - Rosie Napravnik, 124 lbs, Steve Asmussen - The domineering Tapit filly put on a show all spring to take the Kentucky Oaks (I) and Mother Goose (I), but could not muster enough to deflect Bayern and other male foes in the Haskell (I). She will have her hands full returning off a sizeable layoff in this race, and will have a lot to deal with from a pace and class perspective. I would not be surprised if she needs a race— as a reminder, this is not the most important race she needs to win, as she is probably already regarded as the best three-year-old filly by most Eclipse voters.
9) Stopchargingmaria - John Velazquez, 124 lbs, Todd Pletcher - A winner of two consecutive G1 races at Saratoga this summer, the More Than Ready filly trims back in distance while drawing the far outside yet again. A filly with a bit of class, I was not overly inspired by her runs at Saratoga and there’s room for defeat here as she challenges better fillies at a disadvantage— she has lost both starts going 1 1/16 miles by a long way and breaks from way out.
Top 3 Picks in Order (with preferred odds)
1) House Rules (10-1)
2) Joint Return (10-1)
3) Sweet Reason (2-1)
So many choices, and anyone’s opinion on this race could make a lot of sense. This is not a race to go with the favorite, as all three class horses are making some odd change to their normal routine here and or may need a race. I like House Rules best; her run at Saratoga deeply impressed me and I’m going with the Jerkens angle that she will not only be ready but run big. I liked Joint Return in the Alabama (I) and persist to like her even more here on her home turf, and she will likely grab a hold of that pace to reel it in. Sweet Reason stretches out, but will get the pace she likes but not necessarily needs as a very good horse right now. 4th choice is Cassatt.
Value Pick: There’s a heck of a lot of value here in this race with so many angles one could use to nitpick the class horses. House Rules and Joint Return are deeply desirable value horses for the win, and for exotics I would use Cassatt, with Larry Jones winning 25% graded stakes and 30% 3rd off the layoff.