Starlight Stable's Ashado used her speed and class to post a comfortable 2 3/4-length victory in Saturday's $250,000 Cotillion Handicap (gr. II) at Philadelphia Park. It was the fourth graded win of the season for the sensational Saint Ballado filly and pushed her career earnings to $1.83 million. Ashado has also won the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), Mother Goose (gr. I) and Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) in 2004.As a prep race for the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I), this was just what the doctor ordered. Breaking from post seven, Ashado and jockey Eibar Coa had some speed to the inside. Into the first turn, 9-1 shot Ender's Sister had grabbed the early lead but the big filly was looming just to her outside flank. "Knowing this was her Breeders Cup prep and not having ridden her before, I was a little concerned that I do everything right," remarked Coa, "but she broke perfectly and put me right in position." Basically it would stay like that until the midway point on the final turn. Ender's Sister set comfortable and sensible fractions, :23 4/5 and :47 3/5, but when it was time to get serious, the champ responded. Ashado gobbled up Ender's Sister in a blink and as they turned for home, there were no dangers. Coa never needed the whip and he glided under the line leaving little doubt who was best.With a chance to test older horses next week at Belmont, trainer Todd Pletcher opted for the Cotillion as his final Breeders Cup prep instead. "It was not a tough decision," commented assistant trainer Tristan Barry, down to saddle the horse. "This was a nice spot for her and we were hoping she wouldn't have to work too hard for the win. It worked out perfectly. We really wanted that extra week, a good thirty days before heading to Texas."Off as a prohibitive 1-5 favorite, Ashado returned $2.40, $2.20, and $2.10. Ender's Sister stayed on well to hold second and paid $3.60 and $2.10. My Lordship, a 12-1 shot out of the Bill Mott barn, saved ground throughout, bested the rest and paid 2.10 to show. The final time for the 1 1/16-mile event was 1.41 3/5.
The supporting feature, the $100,000 Gallant Bob Handicap, a six furlong sprint for 3-year-olds. Aldie Germania Farms Inc.'s Abbondanza ran a giant race, ripping off fractions of :21 1/5 and :43 1/5 before finishing just one-fifth off the track record, winning by 3 ½ lengths in 1:08 flat. Off as a slight 3-2 favorite for trainer Tim Tullock, Jr., the chestnut son of Alphabet Soup paid $5.00. Jockey Coa won this one as well.(Chart, Equibase)