July 22, 2024

Clairiere seeks Grade 1 laurel in Cotillion

Clairiere wins the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (Hodges Photography)

Update: Bob Baffert has withdrawn Private Mission from the Cotillion per DRF

As division leader Malathaat awaits the Breeders’ Cup, Saturday’s $1 million Cotillion S. (G1) at Parx presents an opportunity for other three-year-old fillies to earn a coveted Grade 1.

Cotillion (G1) – Race 11 (5:02 p.m. ET)

Perhaps chief among them is Steve Asmussen’s Clairiere, a fixture in the major events who has not won since the Feb. 13 Rachel Alexandra (G2). Beaten three times by Malathaat, she was most recently second to that fellow daughter of Curlin in the Aug. 21 Alabama (G1).

Clairiere was also fourth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and third in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) when taking it to Malathaat early, thereby setting it up for Maracuja to post the upset at Saratoga. The last time Clairiere found a Malathaat-free zone in the June 26 Mother Goose (G2), she compromised her chances with a stumbling start but closed for third, just missing second to Always Carina.

Others coming off the Alabama are third-placer Army Wife, fourth Will’s Secret, and Maracuja who regressed to seventh after her career performance in the Coaching Club. Army Wife had won her prior two, the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and Iowa Oaks (G3), and has claims to rebound when reuniting with Joel Rosario. Will’s Secret was in better form in the spring, capturing the Honeybee (G3) and placing third in both the Ashland (G1) and Kentucky Oaks.

Always Carina shortened up for the Aug. 7 Test (G1), where she finished fourth, and the Chad Brown filly makes her two-turn debut here. Test fifth Obligatory had appeared to be a one-turn specialist with a late-running victory in the Eight Belles (G2) and a strong second in the Acorn (G1). Yet perhaps it was more immaturity that cost her in her only prior route attempt, a fourth in the Mar. 20 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) at this 1 1/16-mile trip. A Juddmonte homebred by Curlin, Obligatory gets another chance to stretch out for Hall of Famer Bill Mott.

Mott discussed Obligatory’s distance question with Parx publicity:

“The big thing for her is that it is a two-turn test. We had only one two-turn race when she was quite inexperienced. She was not effective that day because of her inexperience. We’re hoping she got more races under her belt. We know she’s quite effective at seven-eighths and a flat mile at one turn. It’s an experiment for us. I know it’s a big race and she’s doing well. I think she competes with those horses at a flat mile or a one-turn race. We have to see how she gets along at two turns. It’s a bit of a fact-finding mission for us to figure out the configuration of the race is going to suit her. We’ll see. We know she can get a mile and seven-eighths (of a mile).”

Bob Baffert was planning to send Private Mission in the wake of her 6 1/2-length demolition job in the Aug. 21 Torrey Pines (G3) at Del Mar, to this more challenging spot, but scratched following the draw. Leader of the Band landed the Monmouth Oaks (G3) two back and came up a half-length short in the local prep, the Aug. 24 Cathryn Sophia S. Rounding out the nine-filly field is Allworthy, the Monmouth Oaks fourth who since took third in the Charles Town Oaks (G3).