Grade I winners Sweet Lulu and Close Hatches will meet on the track for the first time when an accomplished group of 3-year-old fillies starts in the $1 million Cotillion Stakes (gr. I) Sept. 21 at Parx Racing.
Undefeated Sweet Lulu scored a narrow victory in the Test Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 24 at Saratoga Race Course after being shipped east by Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Steve Beneto's Sweet Lulu registered three wins on synthetic surfaces at Betfair Hollywood Park and Del Mar before scoring her first career stakes win at the highest level.
The chestnut Mr. Greeley filly secured a head victory over Wildcat Lily in the Test, a seven-furlong dirt race. Sweet Lulu will stretch out to 1 1/16 miles in the Cotillion, the longest distance of her career though she did register an easy win in a one-mile allowance-optional claiming race July 24 at Del Mar.
While Sweet Lulu enters with an unblemished record, she figures to be challenged by the only horse to defeat divisional front-runner Princess of Sylmar this season in Close Hatches. Juddmonte Farms' Close Hatches will be making her first start since rolling to a 7 1/4-length victory in the Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) June 22 at Belmont Park at the Cotillion distance.
Earlier this year Close Hatches, by First Defence, topped Princess of Sylmar in the Gazelle Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct Racetrack. Princess of Sylmar, who is not starting in the Cotillion, has not lost since that effort and secured her third straight grade I win Aug. 17 at Saratoga in the Alabama Stakes (gr. I).
Conditioned by Racing Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Close Hatches is scheduled to carry 124 pounds, at least two more than any other starter and seven more than Sweet Lulu's assigned weight.
Pennsylvania-bred Dancing Afleet will give local fans something to cheer for as she brings in a three-race win streak topped by a half-length victory in the Delaware Oaks (gr. II) July 13 at Delaware Park. The daughter of Afleet Alex is trained by Tim Ritchey, who saddled her sire to a pair of classic victories in 2005.
Dancing Afleet races for Ritchey and Beverly Frazier. She was bred by Barbara Brown and Chuck Zacney.
My Happy Face will look to secure her first grade I victory after placing in all three of her previous starts at racing's highest level, including a third-place finish in the Test. The field includes grade II winner Seaneen Girl, who enters off a victory in the Monmouth Oaks (gr. III) Aug. 10 at Monmouth Park.
Other accomplished fillies in the field include Flash Forward, who will start from the rail after winning the My Flag Stakes at Saratoga in her previous start; Alabama Stakes (gr. I) third-place finisher Carnival Court; stakes winners Promise Me More and Street Girl; and stakes-placed Asiya.
$1,000,000 Cotillion Stakes (gr. I, race 10, approximate post time 5:10 p.m. EDT) 3YO Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Flash Forward (KY), R. Maragh, 119, D. Schettino
2. Carnival Court (KY), L. Saez, 117, K. McLaughlin
3. Dancing Afleet (PA), A. Cintron, 122, T. Ritchey
4. Asiya (KY), I. Ortiz Jr., 117, K. McLaughlin
5. Seaneen Girl (KY), P. Lopez, 122, B. Flint
6. My Happy Face (KY), J. Castellano, 117, C. Brown
7. Sweet Lulu (KY), J. Leparoux, 117, J. Hollendorfer
8. Promise Me More (KY), J. Ortiz, 117, S. Asmussen
9. Close Hatches (KY), M. Smith, 124, W. Mott
10. Street Girl (KY), A. Castillo, 119, M. Azpurua