'Cookie Doesn't Crumble in Cotillion Triumph

(from Philadelphia Park report)
Stonerside Stable Ltd's Fast Cookie rallied from last in a scratched down field of five and drew out through the final furlong to win the $250,000 Cotillion Handicap (gr. II) by 3 3/4 lengths Saturday at Philadelphia Park.

It was the first stakes win in the 15-race career for the daughter of Deputy Minister and the $150,000 paycheck boosted her earnings to better than $345,000. It was also the first Cotillion victory for trainer Bill Mott.

There's no question that an early scratch and a gate scratch had an effect on the race's outcome. The class of the field and probable heavy favorite, grade I winner Island Fashion, was cross-entered and opted to stay in New York for the Beldame (gr. I).

Fircroft, second this year in both grade I and grade II company, was in the gate awaiting the start when she suddenly reared and began thrashing about. Wedging herself in her stall, the entire field had to be backed out before she could be removed. After a look-see from the vet, the filly had to be scratched. That left only five runners with front-running City Fire, the Pennsylvania Oaks winner, appearing to be the only speed.

City Fire did indeed dictate the fractions, but Lady Echo, a 6-1 shot under Stewart Elliott, did not let her stroll completely. While the fractions still came up soft, :24 and :47 4/5, City Fire did not have a totally free run.

Breaking from the outside gate, jockey Nick Santagata and Fast Cookie was able to play the waiting game. "The race played out exactly as we had hoped," remarked a smiling Santagata. "I had the advantage of the outside post and was able to watch the entire race unfold before me."

Despite coming out of sprint races in New York, Fast Cookie was unhurried while the leaders battled to the half mile pole. Last around the first turn, Santagata had worked his way up to third approaching the half and appeared to be sitting on a ton of horse. She then made a sudden move to go after the leaders heading to the far turn.

"I knew I had plenty of horse as we went to the three-eighths," said Santagata. "The lead horse really appeared to be struggling at that point and I made my move."

Midway around the final turn, City Fire gave way with little fight and Lady Echo had neither the momentum nor the stamina that Fast Cookie possessed. At that point it wasn't a question of who, but rather, how many. Fast Cookie pulled away through the stretch to post a convincing victory.

Off as second choice at 5-2, Fast Cookie paid $7.40, 3.80, and 4.20. Lady Echo stayed on well for second and returned 4.80 and 4.60. Savedbythelight, also at 5-2, was really little more than a spectator throughout, but she did manage to get up for third and paid 3.60 to show. The final time for the one mile and one-sixteenth over a track labeled fast was 1:45.4.

The $150,000 Gallant Bob Handicap, a six-furlong dash for 3 year-olds, was won in an upset by Michael Gill's Northern Air. The son of Northern Afleet got out of the gate in good order and was able to sit in behind a speed duel before wearing down Something Smith in the last sixteenth to win by a half-length.

Only The Best and College Honor, who broke from the two inside gates, flew through an opening quarter in :21 1/5 with speedball Something Smith taking a spot just to the outside of the two frontrunners. Northern Air was able to tuck in behind that trio all the way to the quarter pole. Something Smith took over off a half in 44.0 and carried a two-length lead to the final eighth. At that point, jockey Joe Rocco had Northern Air under a stout drive in the middle of the racetrack and finally wore down the leader approaching the finish. He edged out late while holding off the late surge of Paris Adventure.

Off at 15-1, Northern Air, trained by Mark Shuman, returned $32.40, 10.20, and 15.60. Something Smith, slight second choice at 5-2, won the place photo and paid 4.20 and 5.80. Paris Adventure made a strong late run but could not catch the top two, settling for third at 13-1 to pay 12.20 to show.

(Chart, Equibase)