Cotillion Stakes 2021 Entries: Always Carina with upside

Jockey John Velazquez may not get to ride Medina Spirit in the Penn Derby, but he is aboard a Chad Brown runner with major upside. See who it is below ...
Jockey John Velazquez may not get to ride Medina Spirit in the Penn Derby, but he is aboard a Chad Brown runner with major upside. See who it is below ...

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Race 11: 1 1/16th (Dirt), Cotillion Stakes (G1), Purse $1 Million, 3F (Saturday)

A regular fixture on the Pennsylvania Derby undercard at Parx Racing, this event provides a distance test around 2-turns to some hopeful 3-yr-old fillies that are looking to add a Grade 1 win to their resume. By this point in the year, they have progressed and matured, as they ready themselves to make the transition to “older fillies.” This Parx challenge over the past decade has seen its fair share of great champions. Names like Havre de Grace, Plum Pretty, Close Hatches, Untapable, I’m a Chatterbox, Songbird, Midnight Bisou, and last year’s victor, Street Band. With a full-field, and some powerful company, this edition should be a rousing good time from a handicapping perspective.

Now, let’s find out about this field…

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#1 Obligatory (Jky: J. Ortiz/Trn: B. Mott):

The Juddmonte homebred is coming off a 4th place finish in the Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga in early August. Maybe the poor start put her behind the proverbial 8 ball, and that is why she had little chance to make up any ground? Whatever the case, she is worth a look because Bill Mott is Bill Mott, and her class lines, beginning back in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), are enhanced because of a score in the 8 Belles (G2). With Jose Ortiz back in the saddle once again, she has as good a shot as the M/L favorites in this race. If she is 10/1, including her in a number of wagers is definitely in order …

Grade: B

 

#2 Allworthy (Jky: F. Geroux/Trn: S. Joseph):

Outside of South Florida, trainer Saffie Joseph doesn’t always get the acclaim he deserves. His approach is the same wherever he goes, so respect is warranted when he enters a tough race like this one. This filly out of Tonalist was not a big ticket buy back in 2019 for the sum of $3k, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have talent. The folks at Slam Dunk make some sound investments, and they are hoping the 3-yr-old can improve on a couple of past races at Monmouth and Charles Town, where she finished 4th and 3rd, respectively. A plus was the speed she exhibited late in that recent attempt … if Florent Geroux can harness some of that again, she could be a player at what is sure to be a double-digit price.

Grade: C+

 

#3 Will’s Secret (Jky: J. Court/Trn: D. Stewart):

Many are probably wondering what happened to the filly out of Will Take Charge … was having to run in tough stakes company outside of Oaklawn the issue? How about the fact that she could be weary racing already 10x in her career? Whatever the case, though she has a strong class background, she appears to be woefully off course since running in the Ashland (G1) at Keeneland through the Alabama (G1) at Saratoga. If anyone has the experience to re-calibrate, it is her conditioner, Dallas Stewart. The Willis Horton homebred needs Jon Court to get her out early, and see if she can control the pace early. It will not be easy considering the other “early” types who are also drawn in here. That might be her best opportunity in what is a very tough spot … once again.

Grade: C+

 

#4 Maracuja (Jky: K. Carmouche/Trn: R. Atras):

Trainer Rob Atras turned in a strong performance during the 2021 Saratoga Meet, and he is hoping that momentum can carry him through into the near future. This runner, a filly out of Honor Code, brought him the greatest victory of his career, when she outlasted Pletcher’s Malathaat in the CCA Oaks (G1). Atras asked her to go longer in the Alabama (G1), though bettors did not think much of her chances—odds at post time were 6/1. Now, coming into this spot, at a shorter distance, she is going to have the opportunity to prove that the CCA was not a fluke. The rider switch from Ricardo Santana to Kendrick Carmouche is intriguing because the latter has had his share of underdog victories … much like Atras. Though they have not worked together much this year, they can form a strong bond this time around.

Grade: B

 

#5 Army Wife (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: M. Maker):

Once again, Three Diamonds/Mike Maker/Joel Rosario get together to try and get a win aboard this fine filly. Back in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at Pimlico on Preakness Weekend, she was fabulous down the lane when it counted. At Rosario’s urging, she got the pace set up she needed to score her best win to date. Since then, the Iowa Oaks (G3) proved a quality “come-back” race, but she could not keep it going, shipping into the Alabama (G1) @The SPA. Hitting the board (3rd) in that contest was still impressive given that she was 9/1, and up against the likes of Malathaat. I thought Tyler Gaffalione gave her the cue a little early, and she just did not have another gear in the end. Coming into Parx, expect her to be fully primed, as she has all of the tools to head to the winner’s circle at the conclusion of this Grade 1.

Grade: A-

 

#6 Clairiere (Jky: R. Santana/Trn: S. Asmussen):

Overrated or underrated … which is it for this Steve Asmussen-trainee? Well-bred out of Curlin she has had her opportunities over this past year. Her last win came at the Fair Grounds in the Rachel Alexandra (G2), which was run back in mid-February. Perhaps you are willing to make some legitimate allowances for a series of efforts that have produced a couple of “places” and “shows?” What is probably most interesting is that Ricardo Santana climbs aboard for the 1st time since riding her as a 2-yr-old. Perhaps that switch will be just the tonic? I am not sure backing her at 2/1, against such a diverse field is really the play. Seems to me to be a vulnerable favorite if there ever was one, even if the homebred is technically in form from an excellent ownership group like Stonestreet.

Grade: B

 

#7 Private Mission (Jky: F. Prat/Trn: B. Baffert):

Trainer Bob Baffert chose to scratch this member of his barn, just as he did with Medina Spirit. We should be seeing her reappear at Santa Anita in the Grade 2 Zenyatta Stakes on 3 October.

Grade: SCRATCHED

 

#8 Always Carina (Jky: J. Velazquez/Trn: C. Brown):

If there is a “one to watch” award among this group, then I think it is this filly out of Malibu Moon. The Three Chimneys homebred has some early speed at her disposal, and she has the moxie to pull off a major upset. Chad Brown does not get enough credit when it comes to running on the dirt, but he can certainly condition just as well as he can on the grass. What is most inviting about this runner is that she is lightly-raced, having only run as a 3-yr-old. Her 2 tries in “G” Co. have not been shabby attempts, especially considering the class. Building on running in the Mother Goose (G2) and the Test S. (G1) showed grit, and good things are in her future. The move from Flavien Prat to veteran rider John Velazquez is actually smart, and he knows how to hustle his mounts to the front. Of course, it will not be an easy ask, breaking from this post, but it can be done. If she is over 6/1 at post time, that qualifies as a magnificent overlay.

Grade: A-

 

#9 Leader of the Band (Jky: F. Pennington/Trn: J. Servis):

The outside entry, trained by John Servis, is the local filly who is looking to make a splash against her salty competition. She has the most Parx-related experience to be sure, with 6 attempts around their oval. Hitting the board in all of those (6/2-3-1) was no small feat, but most were against non-stakes company. Still, that doesn’t mean Frankie Pennington (who knows her tendencies quite well) cannot work out a nice trip. These are much deeper waters, mind you, and the daughter of PA hero Bandbox is going to need all the heart and determination to get this one done. It will not be easy, but the faithful will be 100% behind her!

Grade: B-

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Join us Saturday for all of our selections from PA! Should be a great set of races from Parx!

Parx Racing Race 11 17:02 ET

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