Head to Head: Handicapping the Cotillion Stakes

Head to Head: Handicapping the Cotillion Stakes
Photo: Evers / Eclipse Sportswire

The $1,000,000, Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes at Parx on Saturday attracted a field of nine talented 3-year-old fillies in what likely will be their last shot against strictly their peers.

Despite the defect of Queen’s Plate winner Moira, the field is still loaded for bear. Heading the field is Kentucky Oaks heroine Secret Oath. With Nest not in the field, this could be the daughter of Arrogate’s time to shine again. Four other graded-stakes winners join her in the gate, along with several others who are graded-stakes placed.

Since 2000, only two fillies have completed the Cotillion/Breeders’ Cup Distaff double. In 2004, Ashado won both events along with the Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old female. Ten years later, Untapable also completed the feat and earned year-end honors for her division.

Others to win the Cotillion and then place in the top 3 in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff in that same time frame include Midnight Bisou in 2018, Songbird in 2016, Close Hatches in 2013, My Miss Aurelia in 2012 and Havre de Grace in 2010.

With such a rich history at hand, Ashley Tamulonis of From Coast to Coast and Laurie Ross of Pedigree Power determine who will dance in the winner’s circle and who will be waiting to fill their dance card.




1.  Green Up (6-1)

Green Up was a respectable second upon debut, but since switching to Todd Pletcher’s barn, she has rattled off four straight wins and been challenged in none of them. In her most recent start, she won the Cathryn Sophia by 3 3/4 lengths and earned a career-high 104 speed rating. That puts her in a tie for the fastest speed figure in the field. The filly’s early run style pairs well with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., making her a legitimate Contender.


Green Up looks good because she hasn’t beaten anybody. From her last four races, a combined four horses returned to hit the exotics. However, the Pletcher trainee passed a test when she beat Grade 2 winner Interstatedaydream by 3 3/4 lengths in the Cathryn Sophia. Now Upstart’s daughter tries two turns for the first time and takes on more seasoned foes. As Ashley noted, Green Up earned a career-high 104 speed rating, a nine-point jump from her previous race. She has experience over the track, which is in her favor. Lower exotics.


2.  Adare Manor (7-2)

Adare Manor has played a game of musical barns this year, landing in the stables of Bob Baffert, Tim Yakteen, and Sean McCarthy. She is currently back with Baffert and coming off a second-place finish in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) as the favorite. Before that, she was second in the Santa Anita Oaks (G2) and won the Las Virgenes (G3). This daughter of Uncle Mo has three triple-digit speed-figure efforts, making her a clear threat. Contender.


In the Black-Eyed Susan (G2), Adare Manor made up a little ground through the stretch in grinder mode without actual speed. She didn’t pass the winner, Interstatedaydream on the gallop out. It was an OK effort, but it remains to see whether she’ll return to the brilliance of early races while in Baffert’s care. So far, Uncle Mo’s daughter hasn’t won away from Santa Anita. But I’ll give her an exotics look because, well, Baffert. Exotics.

3.  Goddess of Fire (5-1)

Goddess of Fire has only her debut victory to her name, but all in all, the daughter of Mineshaft hasn’t done half bad for herself. She’s been second or third in four graded races, including rounding out the triple behind Nest and Secret Oath in the Alabama (G1) at long odds. Hall of Famer John Velazquez was aboard for her last three starts and retains the mount here. Exotics.


Goddess of Fire had every opportunity to win most of her starts; she just … doesn’t. The Pletcher trainee concedes to other horses, and even making up ground in the stretch, she’ll move slightly away from the winner and stay behind in the gallop out. That tells me she’s a polite filly, letting others go first. Still, she can be relied upon to pick up a check against lesser company. Exotics.

4.  Beach Daze (30-1)

It took Beach Daze four starts to find the winner’s circle. She’s won three more times since then, but the best she’s faced is Morning Matcha, who beat her handily in the Main Line at Parx. None of her speed figures have cracked 90, and she takes a major leap in class here. Pass.


Being the local horse is in Beach Daze favor, but unfortunately, that’s about it. As Ashley pointed out, the Farrel Mann trainee was no match for Morning Matcha in a minor stakes. Pass.

5.  Gerrymander (8-1)

I really liked Gerrymander in the Alabama (G1) based on her long-winded breeding. Unfortunately, she continued her win-lose-win-lose racing pattern, checking in in fifth. The 104 speed figure she earned while winning the Mother Goose (G2) in June ties her with Green Up for the field’s best speed figure. Considering that, according to pattern, this should be a win day for the daughter of Into Mischief, I’m giving her another look. Contender.


I also liked Gerrymander in the Alabama (G1) and was disappointed in her effort. Now Joel Rosario is back in the saddle, and as Ashley mentioned, Gerrymander is on the upswing of her win/lose cycle. I don’t see a win, but she’s undoubtedly an underneath play. Exotics.

6.  Secret Oath (2-1)

Secret Oath has been my heart filly all season, and her third in the Arkansas Derby (G1) against the boys, fourth in the Preakness against the boys, and seconds in the CCA Oaks (G1) and Alabama (G1) to Nest are no discredit to her. Without a doubt, she has landed in an easier field than the last three she has faced. Speed-figure-wise, the Kentucky Oaks (103) and Alabama (100) were her best. She always brings her best to the track, so look for her to rebound in a winning way here. Contender.


The Kentucky Oaks heroine is hoping for a victory in her third start off the layoff against much softer company. As the class and obvious favorite, the Cotillion is her race to lose. Win contender.

7.  Shahama (8-1)

Shahama began her career in Dubai, rattling off four straight victories, including the U.A.E. One Thousand Guineas and the U.A.E. Oaks (G3). Since arriving in the U.S., she was sixth in the Kentucky Oaks, second in the Mother Goose (G2), and winner of the Monmouth Oaks (G3). She’s earned very respectable speed figures state-side and cannot be overlooked. Exotics.


Shahama faced only three rivals in the Mother Goose (G2). Unfortunately, she took a bad step out of the gate, bobbling slightly. Munning’s daughter tired slightly down the stretch when challenged by Gerrymander, and Shahama wasn’t happy with Flavien Prat, lashing her tail when hit while slowing down. Pass.

8.  Morning Matcha (15-1)

In 15 career starts, Morning Matcha has only four victories, though she’s placed four times and shown four times, making her a quite useful runner. She has faced some in this field, beating Beach Daze in the Main Line but finishing behind Adare Manor and Green Up in their previous matchups. Her best finish in graded company was a third in the Delaware Oaks (G3). She can certainly earn a paycheck at the lower levels, but she is outclassed here. Pass.


Not much to add to Ashley’s points. Morning Matcha is an allowance class runner who tries her hardest in stakes but isn’t quite up to the task. Pass.

9.  Society (8-1)

Lightly raced Society has only one loss in five starts, a fourth-place finish behind Nest and Secret Oath in the CCA Oaks (G1). She rebounded from that defeat nicely to absolutely trounce the Charles Town Oaks (G3) field by 6 3/4 lengths. She earned a career-best 98 speed figure, but take that with a grain of salt as the bullring is quite different from your typical tracks. Dam Etiquette is a Tapit half-sister to 2010 Ohio and Oklahoma Derby winner Pleasant Prince. I don’t see Society winning this, but she could pick up a minor award. Use underneath.


Society was outclassed in the CCA Oaks. The most accomplished fillies she’s faced to date were Delaware Oaks heroine Midnight Stroll and Louisiana’s champion juvenile filly Free Like a Girl. She beat that pair easily in the Charles Town Oaks (G3). Gun Runner’s daughter does her best work on the lead and will play catch-me-if-you-can. I’m pretty sure they will. Pass.

Final thoughts

There’s a good bit of speed in here.

You have Green Up and Adare Manor toward the rail, with Beach Daze and Gerrymander in mid-field and Shahama and Society drawn to the outside. This sets up well for Goddess of Fire and Secret Oath, who can tactically sit off that speed.

Green Up gets that coveted rail position, but my biggest concern is her final times. Granted, she’s won by open lengths, so that could simply be a matter of not doing anything more than necessary to get the win.

Adare Manor must answer the question of whether she wants longer than a mile. Gerrymander needs to start stringing together wins, and Secret Oath needs to prove that she hasn’t lost a step.

There’s a lot going on here, but it sets up for a stellar race. I may live to regret it, but I’m going to continue to stand behind my heart horse, Secret Oath.

Laurie: Race keys: The Cotillion is straightforward. Since 2010, the favorite has won or placed. Eight Cotillion heroines, including the last six, hit the top four spots in the Alabama Stakes.

Secret Oath is the class of the Cotillion and, unless she stubs a hoof, is our winner.




6. Secret Oath (2-1)

6. Secret Oath (2-1)

5. Gerrymander (8-1)

2. Adare Manor (7-2)

2. Adare Manor (7-2)

5. Gerrymander (8-1)

1. Green Up (6-1)

3. Goddess of Fire (5-1)


Meet Laurie Ross

 HRN Pedigree Analyst 


 Published Author

 Pedigree Research/Consultation/Sales 

 ThoroFan Board Member

 Member – NTWAB

Through hands-on work at barns, I learned valuable lessons about Thoroughbred conformation, gait, and temperament and later worked withThoroughbred rescue/re-train organizations. I have committed my passion for horses to the intensive study of pedigree and breeding theory for the last 20 years. 

I support clients with all aspects of pedigree/breeding analysis, research, sales, catalogue review, and recommendations on claims or private sales. Clients include national leading owners, racing/breeding syndicates, the little guy with one mare, and everyone in between. 10-20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue & retraining groups. Check out my website, Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds, and the IMTBreds blog.

I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping, and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic, please contact me. 

Twitter: @IMTBreds
Facebook: IMTBreds
LinkedIn: Laurie Ross

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