Godolphin’s Pretty Mischievous looks to move a step closer to the 3-year-old filly championship for 2023 when she takes on eight others in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing.
Pretty Mischievous drew post three and was installed as the 2-1 favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Cotillion, the co-featured event on Saturday’s stacked card along with the Pennsylvania Derby (G1). The Cotillion goes as the 12th of 14 races, with a post time of 5:20 p.m. EDT.
Trained by Brendan Walsh, Pretty Mischievous comes into the Cotillion with three consecutive Grade 1 victories. The daughter of Into Mischief upset the Kentucky Oaks at odds of 10-1, won the Acorn (G1) five weeks later at Belmont Park and added the Test (G1) at Saratoga Race Course after Maple Leaf Mel broke down in the final strides.
Walsh looks forward to Pretty Mischievous racing around two turns for the first time since the Oaks.
“To be very honest I was a little surprised last time, she struggled with the pace a little bit in the Test. But she was running very strong at the end of the race,” Walsh said. “Listen, they weren’t hanging around there, they were moving on the front. I thought maybe she would have adjusted to it a little better, but saying that, obviously we know what happened. She would have been a good second, so I can’t be too hard on her either.
“The two turns really is her thing. We tried that (the Test). Back to two turns she’s been very effective as we all know, so we’re looking forward to getting her back there. Hopefully, we can cap a very good year for her.”
Trainer Ken McPeek sends out Katsumi Yoshida’s Grade 1 winner Defining Purpose, the 4-1 second choice on the morning line. The daughter of Cross Traffic won the Indiana Oaks (G3) two starts back at Horseshoe Indianapolis and finished third, beaten 5 1/2 lengths, last time out in the Alabama (G1). Seventh in the Kentucky Oaks, Defining Purpose scored a 20-1 upset of the Ashland (G1) in early April at Keeneland Race Course.
“These kinds of races are never easy and you don’t expect them to be easy,” McPeek said. “But she is good right now and this is her chance to shine.”
McPeek also kept Defining Purpose at Saratoga to prep for her Parx debut, and she’s turned in three strong half-mile works over the Oklahoma in preparation for Saturday. McPeek said the purse and status of the Cotillion lured him to Parx,
“I could have taken her to Remington for the Remington Park Oaks, a race we have won a couple times (2013 and 2020) but I don’t think it was going to enhance her pedigree any more,” he said.” Even a placing in the Cotillion is important. Obviously, winning it would be the goal.”
Trainer Doug O’Neill ships 5-1 third choice Ceiling Crusher in from Southern California for the Cotillion. The California-bred daughter of Mr. Big exits a 6-length victory in the Torrey Pines (G3) Sept. 2 at Del Mar. She’s won four of five starts, all as the favorite, by a combined 39 lengths, and drew post three for the Cotillion.
“This is definitely our Breeder’ Cup Classic if you will … the Cotillion,” O’Neill said. “We are super jazzed and super pumped up. It will be a tough spot, but we are hoping she can swim in these deeper waters.
“Saturday will stamp, or validate, hopefully, what we think of her. We are excited to see her in there. She doesn’t necessarily need the lead, but she could be forwardly placed. She has a real high cruising speed and a lot of stamina.”