Stride to stride. Nostril to nostril. Two proud fillies laid it all on the line this afternoon at Parx Racing, and when the dust settled one filly stood alone as the best three-year-old lass in the land.
Going in, the one million dollar Cotillion looked like the matchup of the year in the division, and My Miss Aurelia and Questing certainly did not disappoint, but the former proved just a shade better and now regains the same lofty spot she relinquished earlier this year only because of inactivity.
Not only is Stonestreet Stable and George Bolton’s My Miss Aurelia an Eclipse Award winner, but she still owns an unblemished record in six lifetime starts. The smashing heroin of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last fall, which clinched a championship for the daughter of Smart Strike, showed all the heart and grit of a true champion today in only her second start of the season.
After being restrained in the early stages by rider, Corey Nakatani, My Miss Aurelia was content to stalk, in close order, the slow pace set by the race favorite Questing. The pair stayed that way until the far turn when My Miss Aurelia joined the contest in earnest. As Questing turned wide to carry out her unbeaten foe, the Steve Asmussen champion dug in, and the two fillies embarked on a stretch-long battle of will and talent. The Canadian star, Dixie Strike, who had gotten within striking distance on the turn, was left in the rearview mirror, as the two fantastic sophomore fillies fought tooth-and-nail to the wire. It was not until the final few strides that My Miss Aurelia was able to gain any sort of discernible advantage, before finally winning by a head. Final time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:44.54.
Owner Barbara Banke may have said it best after the race, "She doesn't like to get beat."
With only a 6 ½ furlong race to draw from in the last ten months, you have to wonder just how good My Miss Aurelia may eventually be. The victory also sets up a juicy match-up in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic between her and the other undefeated female champion on the American racing landscape, Awesome Feather. If that isn’t enough, there are still fillies like Royal Delta, It’s Tricky, Include Me Out, and of course, Questing out there to make it possibly the most interesting race of the World Championships.
In fairness to the game runner-up, Questing was giving the winner seven pounds in the Cotillion, and now has a good battle under her belt going into the Ladies Classic, now only 41 days away.
As for the winner, the naming of My Miss Aurelia was one of the last racing related things that Jess Jackson did before his death. It seems he knew exactly what he was doing … this is a good one.
Photos courtesy of Matt Shifman