Tight Battle for 3-Year-Old Filly Eclipse

Tight Battle for 3-Year-Old Filly Eclipse
Photo: Nikki Sherman/EQUI-PHOTO
My Miss Aurelia (left) and Questing finished 1-2 in the grade I Cotillion Stakes.

If you were at Parx Racing (formerly known as Philadelphia Park) last Sept. 22 for the grade I Cotillion Stakes, you witnessed a slam-bang, drag-out battle between My Miss Aurelia and Questing. Now, nearly four months later, both fillies are still battling each other, but this time it is on the ballot for the 3-year-old filly Eclipse Award.

There are two ways of thinking when attempting to separate these two talented fillies. If you are guided by the premise, what have you done for me lately, then My Miss Aurelia likely will be your choice, based on her narrow victory over Questing in the Cotillion, followed by a strong second to champion Royal Delta in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I).

But it must be noted that My Miss Aurelia made only three starts all year. To many of her admirers, that will not affect their voting. She defeated her main rival for the Eclipse head to head and finished far ahead of her in the Breeders’ Cup when Questing was pulled up with an injury and vanned off the track. Also, My Miss Aurelia already has an Eclipse Award, having been voted champion 2-year-old filly in 2011.

For those who feel Questing is deserving of the award, they have plenty of ammo in their arsenal. The Godolphin filly began her run for the title by winning the grade I TVG Coaching Club American Oaks by four lengths, easily defeating Zo Impressive, who won the grade I Mother Goose Stakes previously, and In Lingerie, coming off a victory in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II).

In the Alabama Stakes (gr. I), Questing turned in one of the most brilliant performances by a filly in the last several decades. Setting a blistering pace of :46.01, 1:09.74, and 1:35.06 going a mile and a quarter, she still was able to draw clear in the stretch, despite bearing out repeatedly, to win by nine lengths in a sharp 2:01.29. Finishing second was In Lingerie, who would defeat older fillies and mares in the grade I Juddmonte Spinster Stakes in her next start.

In the Cotillion, Questing was dropping back from 1 1/4 mile to 1 1/16 miles over a dead track. One would expect her to regress off her performance in the Alabama, yet she still battled gamely and was beaten a head by the fresher My Miss Aurelia, while conceding seven pounds to the winner. Her subsequent Ladies Classic performance obviously was a throw-out, as she never finished the race.

So, it is now up to the voters to decide how they view each filly’s campaign and which one did enough to earn the Eclipse.

The third finalist, Believe You Can, stepped to the head of the class with her victories in the Silverbulletday Stakes, Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). But her well-beaten third in the Mother Goose on June 23 was her final start of the year.

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