Parx Racing will run a pair of $1 million races for 3yos on Saturday: the Grade 1 Cotillion for fillies over 1 1/16 miles and the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby for colts over 1 1/8 miles.
The Cotillion comes first. It has drawn a field of 12, including the Stonestreet entry of #1 Tara’s Tango (Hollendorfer) and #1a Keen Pauline (Romans). The headliners are #3 Embellish the Lace, last seen taking the Grade 1 Alabama wire to wire at Saratoga, and #8 I’m a Chatterbox, who closed relentlessly in that Alabama, before settling for second best.
According to the TimeformUS Pace Projector, Embellish the Lace will have to work harder early in this race, as a fast pace is projected for the Cotillion. #5 Take Charge Brandi, a multiple Grade 1-winning 2yo, projects to be setting that fast early pace. She is stretching out after returning from a layoff to contest the pace and then fading away to last in the Grade 1 Test over 7 furlongs at Saratoga. She earned a pair of 113 TFUS Speed Figures as a juvenile, so it may be wise not to take her too lightly, regardless of how you feel about her as a win prospect in this race.
Embellish the Lace has been dominant in her three career wins thus far, but she has had to deal with a fast pace only once, in the Grade 1 Mother Goose two starts back at Belmont, and that did not end well for her. Her Alabama was a career-best performance (115 TFUS Speed Figure), but she was allowed to control the action there, and that may not be the case on Saturday. The talent is obviously there, and she was a blowout winner in her lone start over this track for a top-tier trainer.
I’m a Chatterbox enters the Cotillion on the back of paired up 114 TFUS Speed Figures at Saratoga. She has made few mistakes since Larry Jones took over her training as a 3yo, and her versatility is her most valuable asset. She can run, and win, from anywhere in a race. We loved the ride she got in the CCA Oaks when just gunned to the front and taking no prisoners, and she was dead game to the finish there despite being DQ’d (justly) at the end. She lost nothing in defeat with that late run for 2nd in the Alabama, and we think they have her to beat in this race.
With Embellish the Lace in for a possible headache on the pace, we will try to get a couple of longer prices in the mix with I’m a Chatterbox. #6 Pangburn is a stablemate of Embellish the Lace, but she has a running style that is better suited to this kind of race (her Late Pace Rating of 99 is one of the better such ratings in the field). She is lightly raced still, has proven her worth in graded stakes company, and put up her career best TFUS Speed Figure in her first start for this trainer.
#9 Calamity Kate is a classic “last time” horse, as she wired the Delaware Oaks at over 50/1 odds after a terrible trip in the Grade 1 Acorn on Belmont Stakes Day. Big price or not, she was a legit winner of that race after taking on pace pressure, and she showed she can rate and run when coming to hand nicely to stalk the pace in her blowout maiden win as a 2yo.
The Play: We suspect that we are with the crowd in making I’m a Chatterbox our top pick in the Cotillion. We aren’t looking to make win bets at short odds, but we will key her in multi-race wagers, and play her in exactas with Pangburn and Calamity Kate.