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Breeders' Cup 2017

My Miss Aurelia: Don’t Mess with the Champ

September 22nd 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 heat winners. 
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?


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Older Comments about My Miss Aurelia: Don’t Mess with the Champ...

I honestly think MMA will prove better than AF. The strongest feild the latter faced was in the BC and has since then never faced any other real heavy weights. Steered clear of Awesome Maria this year. She is very good and she is fast, but If any horse is to come out of the BCLC with a perfect record, it would be MMA. Faced the absolute best at two, and wasted no time doing the same at three. Her level of competition has been much better.
ZATT's Star of the Week, is ... My Miss Aurelia!
She is a strong mare, but not stronger than Awesome Feather
2013 kentucky oaks belong to her.
You and I had faith in her, Matt, and she did us all proud. What a race the Ladies Classic is shaping up to be.
I had my doubts about her but she's definitely gained my full respect now.
Extremely cool !
Now that sounds like fun! Always good to be in the presence of unbridled joy, oh ... and great call, Matt!

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