It’s easy to understand why the $1 million, Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing has risen from an ungraded stakes worth $30,000 to become one of the nation’s most important races for 3-year-old fillies.
Purse increases have certainly played a role: between 2004 and 2007, the value of the race tripled from $250,000 to $750,000. This tremendous jump understandably increased the quality of the competition, so much so that the Cotillion reached Grade 1 status (with a purse of $1 million) in 2012.
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The impact has been impressive. Since 2010, six champion 3-year-old fillies have contested the Cotillion, including Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff winners Royal Delta, Untapable, and Monomoy Girl. The Cotillion wasn’t held in 2020 due to COVID-19, but the 1 1/16-mile event returns on Saturday with eight talented fillies entered. Who knows? Perhaps one will go on to win the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff six weeks from now at Del Mar.
Since #7 Private Mission has been scratched, #6 Clairiere looms as the morning-line favorite for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. A beautifully bred daughter of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin out of multiple Grade 1 winner Cavorting, Clairiere is talented, durable, and consistent — she hasn’t finished out of the top four in eight career starts, seven of them against Grade 1 or Grade 2 company.
Clairiere enters the Cotillion off a series of encouraging efforts on the New York circuit, including a game runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes racing 1 1/4 miles at Saratoga. But it’s worth noting Clairiere has suffered five straight defeats since winning the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes Presented by Fasig-Tipton at Fair Grounds on Feb. 13. Clairiere is a late runner without much early speed, which tends to leave her at a disadvantage against more tactical and versatile rivals.
One of Clairiere’s more tactical Cotillion rivals is #4 Maracuja. True, she never fired in the Alabama, finishing last of seven. Two starts back, the daughter of Honor Code employed pace-tracking tactics to upset leading 3-year-old filly Malathaat in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga.
As the lone Grade 1 winner entered in the Cotillion, Maracuja warrants respect, and she figures to enjoy a favorable trip in this largely paceless field. The only question is whether she can bounce back to peak form following her disappointing run in the Alabama, so if you have any doubts, #5 Army Wife might be the better play.
Army Wife has been on a steady ascent since rallying boldly to win the Grade 2 George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico by 2 3/4 lengths. The Mike Maker trainee followed up this flashy effort with a 3 3/4-length score in the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks and a game third-place effort in the Alabama, in which she tracked the early pace and led around the far turn before weakening to finish just half a length behind Clairiere.
Cutting back from 1 1/4 miles to 1 1/16 miles should suit Army Wife just fine, and hot jockey Joel Rosario — who rode Army Wife in the Black-Eyed Susan and Iowa Oaks — is regaining the mount after skipping the Alabama. In terms of speed figures, Army Wife is a great fit for the Cotillion field, and the prospect of a slow pace should allow the bay filly to enjoy another forwardly placed trip. What’s not to like? Army Wife looks like a dangerous threat for victory.
Other candidates to factor in the Cotillion include #3 Will’s Secret, fourth in the Alabama but third in the Grade 1 Longines Kentucky Oaks during the spring, and #8 Always Carina, who finished a nose ahead of Clairiere when third in the Grade 2 Mother Goose Stakes back in June. Always Carina enters off a disappointing fourth-place finish sprinting in the Grade 1 Longines Test Stakes at Saratoga, but the longer distance of the Cotillion should be more to her liking as Always Carina looms as the only clear front-runner in this field.
So how should you bet the Cotillion? Opposing Clairiere on top might be the best chance to catch a big payoff, so we’ll favor Army Wife on the win end while counting on Clairiere to finish second or third. We’ll round out our plays with Maracuja, Will’s Secret, and Always Carina.
Wagering Strategy on a $10 Budget
$8 to win on #5 Army Wife
What to say at the betting window: Parx Racing, 11th race, $8 to win on 5
$2 exacta: 5 with 6
What to say at the betting window: Parx Racing, 11th race, $2 exacta 5 with 6
Wagering Strategy on a $30 Budget
$14 to win on #5 Army Wife
What to say at the betting window: Parx Racing, 11th race, $14 to win on 5
$4 exacta: 5 with 6
What to say at the betting window: Parx Racing, 11th race, $4 exacta 5 with 6
$2 trifecta: 5 with 6 with 3,4,8 ($6)
What to say at the betting window: Parx Racing, 11th race, $2 trifecta 5 with 6 with 3,4,8
$2 trifecta: 5 with 3,4,8 with 6 ($6)
What to say at the betting window: Parx Racing, 11th race, $2 trifecta 5 with 3,4,8 with 6
Good luck, and enjoy the race!
2021 Cotillion S.
September 25th, 2021
- Owner / Stonestreet Stables LLC
- Breeder / Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC
- Owner / Juddmonte
- Breeder / Juddmonte Farms Inc
- Owner / Three Diamonds Farm
- Breeder / J D Stuart & AR Enterprises, Inc.
- Breeder / River Bend Farm Inc., Austin Musselman & Janie Musselman
- Owner / Three Chimneys Farm
- Breeder / Three Chimneys Farm, LLC
- Owner / SMD Limited
- Breeder / SMD, Ltd.
- Owner / Willis Horton Racing LLC
- Breeder / Willis Horton Racing LLC