Plum Pretty winning the 2011 Cotillion Stakes.

Plum Pretty winning the 2011 Cotillion Stakes.

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Cotillion Joins PA Derby as $1 Million Stakes

The grade I Cotillion and grade II Derby are scheduled for Sept. 22 at Parx.

Parx Racing has increased the purse of the grade I Cotillion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies to $1 million and scheduled it on the same day as the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) for 3-year-olds, according to the Pennsylvania track’s proposed stakes schedule for the rest of 2012.

The one-two punch of the Cotillion and the Derby will be run Sept. 22 along with the $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes, a sprint for 3-year-olds, and the $75,000 Alphabet Soup Handicap for state-bred 3-year-olds and up on the grass.

The Cotillion, won last year by Plum Pretty, was a grade II event with a purse of $750,000. The American Graded Stakes Committee last year assigned grade I status to the race, first run at Liberty Bell Park in the early 1970s.

Parx director of racing Sal Sinatra couldn't be immediately reached for comment May 14 to discuss the changes and enhancements.

The stakes schedule likely hinges on Pennsylvania's state budget for 2012-13. The governor proposed taking $72 million from the Race Horse Development Fund, which is funded by slot machines, but the state Senate restored most of the money in its version of the budget. The House of Representatives must now approve, and the document may not be final until mid-June.

Pennsylvania-bred stakes day is scheduled for Sept. 8, with five stakes highlighted by the $100,000 Mrs. Penny for fillies and mares on the turf. The other four stakes are worth $75,000, including one named for Banjo Picker, a popular local sprinter a few years ago.

The Sept. 3 program will feature three stakes, two of them grade III. The $300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes (gr. III) will serve as a local prep for the Pennsylvania Derby, while the five-furlong, $350,000 Turf Monster Handicap (gr. IIIT) is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT).

The third stakes Sept. 3 is the $250,000 Turf Amazon Handicap for fillies and mares at five furlongs on the grass.

Of the other graded stakes at Parx, the grade III, $200,000 Greenwood Cup at 1 1/2 miles and a “Win and You’re Event” for the Breeders’ Cup Marathon (gr. II), is slated for July 14; and the $250,000 Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares on the turf  is scheduled for July 3.