Fox Hill Farms' Havre de Grace rallied from just off the pace and then survived a furious late charge by odds-on favorite Blind Luck to win the $750,000 Fitz Dixon Cotillion Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) for 3-year-old fillies at Parx Racing in Pennsylvania Oct. 2.
It was the first career stakes victory for Havre de Grace (by Saint Liam), who had been beaten by multiple grade I winner and division leader Blind Luck by a nose in the July 10 Delaware Oaks (gr. II) at Delaware Park and by a neck in the Betfair TVG Alabama Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga.
The Bob Baffert-trained Bonnie Blue Flag grabbed the lead early in the Cotillion and set fractions of :23.88, :47.28, and 1:10.84. Havre de Grace stalked that rival to the three-eighths pole before making her run to the front.
"I kept her a bit off the rail," said winning jockey Jeremy Rose. "I had ridden a couple other races on the card and found the inside to be a little deep."
When Bonnie Blue Flag finally surrendered the lead to Havre de Grace nearing the top of the stretch, Blind Luck was beginning to lengthen her stride and gather momentum. Even though she was still a good five lengths back, she came flying on the outside and closed the gap. But Havre de Grace prevailed by a neck, completing 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:40.93. The time was only .13 slower than the track record.
"She's proven time and again that she's one of the best of her generation, but she wasn’t even a stakes winner yet,” said Havre de Grace’s trainer, Tony Dutrow. "It is very special when you win a race like this and do so beating a horse the quality of Blind Luck."
Awesome Maria finished third, 9 ¾ lengths behind Blind Luck.
It was the second Cotillion win for Dutrow in just three years. He won the 2008 edition of the race with Seattle Smooth.
Rose experienced a few anxious moments en route to his first Cotillion victory.
"When she (Havre de Grace) was clear in mid-stretch, I could sense her waiting for Blind Luck," the jockey said. "She's really matured, though, and when Blind Luck hooked her late, she responded. She battled all the way."
Sent off as the second betting choice at 6-5, Havre de Grace returned $4.40, 2.20, and 2.10. Blind Luck, who was ridden by Joel Rosario, paid 2.10 and 2.10. Awesome Maria returned 2.20.
Bred in Kentucky by Nancy Dillman, Havre de Grace was purchased by Tom McGreevy, agent for Fox Hill, for $380,000 from Mill Ridge Sales, agent, at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale. The bay filly was produced from the Carson City mare Easter Bunnette.
With her Cotillion victory, Havre de Grace improved her career record to three wins in seven races. The bay filly has earned $675,175.