was the biggest day of racing at Philadelphia Park, sorry, I mean Parx Racing. It was actually a very big day for
racing. This was the first time that a track was offering two $1,000,000 stakes aside
from the Breeders’ Cup. The Pennsylvania Derby was to be the marquee event featuring a rematch of the Travers dead
Not for me, I was going to
Parx to see My Miss Aurelia. I
became a fan of last year’s Juvenile Filly champion at Saratoga this summer. There I got to see My Miss Aurelia school in the paddock and I saw a magnificently
mature thoroughbred. I commented to trainer Steve Asmussen that she looked great and he said, “No, she is
great.” It was clear to me that Asmussen really meant it.
Of course My Miss Aurelia
went on to romp in the Mandy's Gold a few days later. There was a great deal of talk after that race because she
would not change leads going down the stretch.
I was dismayed as the Cotillion approached that the vast
majority of the comments on Twitter, in print, in blogs, and even here on Horse
Racing Nation were about Questing.
My Miss Aurelia was being dismissed. Questing’s two dazzling wins at Saratoga seemed to have blinded most of
the handicappers. They seemed to have forgotten that an undefeated champion was
in the race.
The day of the Cotillion
two renowned experts were all about Questing. On a national radio show one of
them called Questing “A virtual lock”. On Twitter another one tweeted, “I have
no clever ideas in either the PA Derby or the Cotillion…though I don’t like My
Miss Aurelia at all.”
I had not forgotten that
My Miss Aurelia was the champ and I commented in many places on HRN that she
would win the race.
As the horses circled the
paddock before the race, there was My Miss Aurelia again striking a magnificent
appearance. Once again Asmussen walked by me, so I asked, “How has she been
doing?” Once again came a short and confident reply, “Excellent!”
I walked by My Miss
Aurelia’s co-owner George Bolton along the rail prior to the start of the
Cotillion and as I always do, I respectfully wished him good luck in the race.
At that point Bolton struck up a conversation and we talked about horse racing. He clearly was full of nervous energy
as he awaited the duel with Questing.
Aside from sharing the
ownership of My Miss Aurelia with Stonestreet
Stable, that same partnership owned Curlin.
Bolton also owns The Factor with a different partner.
Bolton told me when his mother
attends the races his horses have won 20 of 26 starts most of them graded
stakes with My Miss Aurelia or Curlin or The Factor. Bolton’s mother Aurelia is
the namesake of the horse and she was at Parx for this race.
He told me how he just
made the decision to retire The Factor to stud at Three Chimneys Farm. That horse had the beginnings of what could
have become an ankle problem.
Bolton explained that when
My Miss Aurelia was a youngster that she has small and very compact and they
figured that she might have a nice career as a sprinter, and that they were all
very pleasantly surprised as she has matured to become a star.
When the horses were
nearing the starting gate Bolton asked me who I liked in the race and I, of
course, said that since Saratoga this summer I had become a big My Miss Aurelia
fan. I decided I would stay right there and watch the race next to Bolton. There
is a new huge state of the art screen that stands by the ancient tote board from
the days of the Keystone race track.
As My Miss Aurelia came up
to Questing to begin the stretch drive, Bolton was cheering his horse on and I
got caught up in the moment and urged her to go by Questing. As they crossed
the wire Bolton asked me, “Who won?” I confidently said that, “You won.” Bolton
then put his hand up above his head and we exchanged a very excited high five.
I know that as a member of
the media that I probably should not have been cheering, but we weren’t in the
press box. Most of all I am still a huge fan of horse racing and we had just
seen a tremendous stretch drive between two outstanding fillies in what was
certainly one of the best races of the year. How cool was that?