October 24, 2021

Clairiere clearly best in Cotillion

Clairiere rolls past Obligatory in the Cotillion (Photo by Nikki Sherman/Equi-Photo)

Stonestreet Stables’ homebred Clairiere has been competing honorably at the top level, and her moment finally came in Saturday’s $999,500 Cotillion (G1) at Parx. Rallying from off a slow pace, the 2.60-1 favorite proved much the best by 2 1/2 lengths.

Clairiere contributed to a productive day for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Ricardo Santana. Asmussen also sent out Jackie’s Warrior to win the Gallant Bob (G2) with Joel Rosario, and Santana engineered a gargantuan upset in the Turf Monster (G3) aboard Juan Vazquez’s Hollywood Talent. In addition to Clairiere, the trainer/jockey tandem just missed with Silver State in the Parx Dirt Mile, and they took second in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) with Midnight Bourbon.

The early Cotillion leaders were the two fillies coming out of the seven-furlong Test (G1), the respective fourth and fifth Always Carina and Obligatory. Always Carina readily secured the lead and crossed over through an opening quarter in :24.92. The rail-drawn Obligatory let her go, then switched out and took up a pressing posture in :49.67 and 1:13.87.

As Obligatory ratcheted up her challenge rounding the far turn, Clairiere was just starting to wind up. Santana was in no hurry aboard the favorite. Breaking just to the outside of Army Wife, who stumbled out of the gate and veered out when picking herself up, Clairiere shrugged it off and settled in sixth early. She steadily drew nearer approaching the final turn, and had to steer outside of Army Wife who was trying to advance herself.

Clairiere had all of the momentum by the time the field entered the stretch. The royally bred bay surged past the battling leaders to win handily in a final time of 1:44.31 for 1 1/16 miles.

Obligatory, like Clairiere a daughter of Curlin, stayed on for second to complete the exacta for their Hall of Fame sire. Another half-length back came Army Wife, closing between foes to snatch third from Maracuja who had stalked in that spot throughout. Always Carina tired to fifth, trailed by Leader of the Band, Will’s Secret, and Allworthy. Private Mission was scratched.

“She was away from the gate good, and was carrying really, really well,” Asmussen told Parx publicity, “and I can’t tell you how what it means for Clairiere and Stonestreet and that family that she comes from. She was carrying along nicely within herself within striking range.”

Clairiere’s new career high made her a millionaire with $1,190,992 from her 9-3-3-2 line. The daughter of multiple Grade 1 star and $2 million-earner Cavorting was a last-to-first debut winner at Churchill Downs last fall. Just denied by Travel Column in the Golden Rod (G2), Clairiere gained revenge in the Feb. 13 Rachel Alexandra (G2). They also traded decisions in two subsequent meetings, with Clairiere finishing second to Travel Column in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) but beating her when fourth behind Malathaat in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).

After a troubled third in the Mother Goose (G2), Clairiere placed in both of Saratoga’s marquee events for three-year-old fillies. She served it up to presumptive divisional champion Malathaat early in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1). Although Clairiere paid the price by fading to third, she played a key role in Malathaat’s upset loss to Maracuja. In their Alabama (G1) rematch last time out Aug. 21, Clairiere reverted to hold-up tactics and got up for second.

Clairiere figures to try Malathaat again in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).

“She’s kept herself in great company all year and getting good when it matters most,” Asmussen noted. “Obviously, we’re going to speak to Stonestreet and stuff, with the numbers she’s got she’s consistently getting faster at the right time.”