Heavy choice Dream Rush went to the lead as expected but th steady fighter Cotton Blossom ran her down in deep stretch to win the $250,000 Acorn Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO) for 3-year-old fillies by one length at Belmont Park Saturday.
Under John Velazquez in the one-turn mile event, Cotton Blossom bided her time as Dream Rush and Garrett Gomez bounded away on the lead through an opening quarter in :22.24 and a half in :45.10. Opening up a three-length advantage, Gomez was looking back on Dream Rush as Princess Janie and Christmas Kid failed to close ground in the turn. The field went six furlongs in 1:09.13.
But as they straightened away for home, Velazquez had Cotton Blossom in motion on the outside and she collared the heavy favorite and drove past to win her first grade I race by a length. Dream Rush ran second and it was 8 1/4 lengths back to Christmas Kid in third. The final time for the mile was 1:34.70.
Cotton Blossom, owned by Dogwood Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher, is by Broken Vow and out of the Dixieland Band mare For Dixie. She was bred in Kentucky by Jim Squires.
“She was a little wide throughout, but outside of that, she had a clear run,” said Pletcher. “She had a nightmarish trip in the Kentucky Oaks. She wasn’t going to win, but she was going to hit the board. She was a deserving grade 1 winner today. She’s versatile enough where she can win between a mile and a mile and an eighth. She dug in, and the filly she ran down is a very nice horse.”
Cotton Blossom has now won at five furlongs, six furlongs, a mile and a 1 1/16 miles.
“It set up for her today,” said Velazquez. “The speed went and she had a really good trip. I couldn’t do anything with Dream Rush out there. I had to go out there and run my race. She pulled me up there and turning for home, I was in good position. This horse runs her race at any distance; today, it just really set up for her.”
Cotton Blossom was rebounding from a ninth place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) while Dream Rush was coming off an impressive win in the Nassau County Breeders’ Cup (gr. II). Cotton Blossom's last victory came in the Florida Oaks March 17.
The winner paid $14.20, $4.50, and $2.80 while Dream Rush returned $2.70 and $2.10. Christmas Kid paid $2.60.
The bay filly Cotton Blossom improved to 4-2-1 in nine starts and the $150,000 earned Saturday increased her bankroll to $669,272.
Dream Rush, making her debut at a mile, will likely point for Saratoga’s Darley Test (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs on Aug. 4.
“She ran hard,” said her trainer, Richard Violette Jr. “She might have won her other races so easily that this was the first time she really had to run hard to the wire. And she came up a little bit short.”
Boca Grande, Princess Janie and Officer in Pursuit completed the six-horse order of finish.