In a heavyweight slugfest between champion My Miss Aurelia and multiple grade I winner Questing through the stretch of the $971,200 Cotillion Stakes (gr. I), My Miss Aurelia prevailed by a head to remain undefeated Sept. 22 at Philadelphia's Parx Racing (VIDEO).
Winner of last year's Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) by three lengths, My Miss Aurelia registered her sixth consecutive win for owner/breeder Stonestreet Stables and partner George Bolton.
The daughter of Smart Strike is trained by Steve Asmussen. Only minutes before the Cotillion, the Asmussen-trained Dust and Diamonds sprang an 8-1 upset in the Gallant Bloom Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park, earning a berth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 3. Assuming Dust and Diamonds continues on to the Breeders' Cup, she will no doubt be joined at Santa Anita Park by stablemate My Miss Aurelia in the Ladies' Classic (gr. I).
Just four sophomore fillies contested the 1 1/16-mile Cotillion with Godolphin's Questing, coming off grade I wins in the Coaching Club American Oaks and the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, sent off as the 2-5 favorite over 9-5 My Miss Aurelia.
My Miss Aurelia, earning her third grade victory, was timed in 1:44.54 on a fast track.
My Miss Aurelia banked $586,000 for the victory, a nice consolation for co-owner Bolton, who earlier in the day announced the retirement of his multiple grade I winner The Factor. My Miss Aurelia, who is named for Bolton's mother, has now earned $2,026,000.
Bolton bought My Miss Aurelia as a yearling when she sold for $550,000 at the 2010 Keeneland September sale. He later sold back half of the bay filly, who is out of the graded stakes-placed Sea of Secrets mare My Miss Storm Cat, to her breeders, Stonestreet's Barbara Banke and the late Jess Jackson.
Corey Nakatani was once again aboard My Miss Aurelia, who won her only prior start this year, a restricted stakes at Saratoga Race Course by three lengths Aug. 8.
The Great Britain-bred Questing, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., was intent on getting the early lead from My Miss Aurelia and Nakatani was content to let her have it, allowing My Miss Aurelia to rate in second while both raced well off the rail in the early going. Questing maintained a 1 1/2-length advantage while getting the pace setup she wanted. Quarter mile fractions for the opening six furlongs were a deliberate :25.19, :50.04, and 1:14.72.
My Miss Aurelia edged closed rounding the far turn as the leaders separated from the other two in the field, Dixie Strike and the retreating Moment in Dixie. Questing floated wide under Ortiz leaving the bend as My Miss Aurelia pressed her and Nakatani didn't seem to mind. He had My Miss Aurelia right on top of the favorite as they made their way down the lane.
Both competitors fought valiantly in close quarters through the stretch, bumping repeatedly. But My Miss Aurelia, under a firm hand ride from Nakatani, proved slightly better in the final yards to win narrowly in a terrific finish.
Following the trophy presentation, Nakatani said the race went as he and Asmussen planned.
"Our plan was to go ahead, let her do her thing and get her in a high position on the back side," Nakatani said. "We wanted to save our best for last. That's what we did today.''
When asked about the possibility of Miss Aurelia running in next month's Breeders Cup Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita, Asmussen said, "We'll see how she comes out of this race."
Questing, who was coming off a nine-length romp in the Aug. 18 Alabama, had to settle for second, with Dixie Strike and Ramon Dominguez 6 1/2 lengths father back in third. Moment in Dixie was last by a long way.
My Miss Aurelia carried 117 pounds, seven fewer than the high-weighted Questing, and paid $5.60 and $2.10. Questing, who ran fifth in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in her first United States start, paid $2.10. The exacta returned $8. There was no show wagering.
During her championship juvenile season, My Miss Aurelia broke her maiden at first asking in July at Saratoga. She followed up that effort with victories in the Adirondack (gr. II) by a neck at Saratoga and the Frizette (gr. I) at Belmont by an impressive 5 1/2 lengths before her dominating Breeders' Cup triumph.