Parx roundup: Ceiling Crusher leads whole way in Cotillion

Parx roundup: Ceiling Crusher leads whole way in Cotillion
Photo: Sue Kawczynski / Eclipse Sportswire

A strong, front-running pace was all Ceiling Crusher needed to capture Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, part of a stakes-laden undercard at Parx Racing.

The California-bred daughter of Mr. Big employed that strategy to lead eight others from start to finish to win the 1 1/16-mile contest by a half-length on the sloppy, sealed main track in 1:45.69 under jockey Edwin Maldonado.

Click here for Parx Racing entries and results.

Under the Wonderland Racing Stables, Todd Cady, Tim Kasparoff and Ty Leatherman lime and white colors, Ceiling Crusher earned her first Grade 1 victory in her seventh lifetime start for trainer Doug O’Neill. The win was her second straight after winning the Torrey Pines Stakes (G3) at Del Mar. That was her first start in open company after running vs. California breds in her first five races.

Ceiling Crusher, no stranger to covering a lot of ground after shipping to Parx Tuesday from her home track at Santa Anita, an estimated trip of 2,709 miles, pleased her trainer.

“She brought everything that she was showing us back home on the road,” O’Neill said. “You never know. You never know until you pack your bags, and they have to stay in a hotel room and be away from home. She handled everything perfectly.”

Ceiling Crusher was urged to the front after the break under Maldonado and was pressed through an opening quarter-mile in :23.31 seconds. Pretty Mischievous and jockey Tyler Gaffalione, in search of their fourth consecutive Grade 1 victory as the 2-1 favorite, gave chase in sixth in the early stages. They continued through the slop behind a cluster of soggy, horses belonging to Majestic Creed, Hoosier Philly, Defining Purpose, Foggy Night and Imonra while Ceiling Crusher led through the half-mile at 47.64 seconds and six furlongs at 1:12.98.

Occult, launching her bid from last under Irad Ortiz Jr., swung wide and rallied into third behind Brendan Walsh-trained Pretty Mischievous, who, with her streak in jeopardy, made an impact through the turn to the stretch and was now desperate to catch the frontrunner.

Ceiling Crusher, still there after the mile in 1:39.16, held strong and fended off her main foe.

Pretty Mischievous settled for second, Occult finished third, and Hoosier Philly checked in fourth. They were followed by Defining Purpose, Foggy Night, Just Katherine, Majestic Creed and Imonra in that order.

“Edwin has gotten to know her. She has no accelerator stuck to her at all.” O’Neill said. “She is not a run-off. Being in the 2 hole, he did not want to get caught up in a lot of traffic. He rode her away from there, and I just thank God no one else went on a suicide mission to stop her. She has that high-cruising speed, and she carried it all the way to the wire. She does not have a huge turn of foot. She has a high-cruising speed, a grinder, a lot of heart. He used all that to a T.”

Pretty Mischievous, the leading candidate to win this year’s Eclipse Award as the top 3-year-old filly, left her connections with disappointment following her performance.

“Maybe she didn’t handle the track great, initially,” Walsh said. “Tyler said as soon as she switched her leads down the back, he kind of felt her way back into the race. But you know Doug’s filly got the jump on us, and she was gone. That’s the way it goes I’m afraid. Listen, she always gives it 110 percent. Anytime she has been beaten, she hasn’t been beaten far. You can’t be disappointed in her. We’re just a little disappointed in the circumstances. Hats off to Doug’s filly, too. She took her opportunity, and she won the race. I’m not taking anything away from her.”

Ceiling Cruiser, who has six wins from seven starts and earnings of $938,400, will return home to California before her next start is considered. O’Neill will leave the decision to the owners.

“She is not nominated (to the Breeders' Cup),” O’Neill said. “It will be up to the guys and gals if they want to write a big check. This was our Breeders’ Cup. We looked at this on the calendar months ago, and the fact that is coming true. ... This was our Breeders’ Cup.”

Damon’s Mound scores in Gallant Bob

Damon’s Mound proved again that sprinting on dirt is what he does best, winning the $400,000 Gallant Bob Stakes (G2).

Owned and bred by Michelle and Cliff Love, trained by Michelle Lovell and ridden by Junior Alvarado, the 3-year-old son of Girvin out of the Stroll mare San Antonio Stroll prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths after a stretch duel with Nautical Star, who finished second, 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Gordian Knot.

The winning time was 1:10.24 for six furlongs over the sloppy track.

Ryvit broke fast and took the early lead over Sir Lancelot, with Damon’s Mound laying third. Sir Lancelot put his head in the front on the far turn with Ryvit responding immediately, but by then Damon’s Mound and Nautical Star were in hot pursuit. Damon’s Mound went by Ryvit on his outside and held off Nautical Star, who was widest of all.

Post-time favorite Damon’s Mound paid $5.60 in winning for the fourth time. He has four wins and a second in dirt sprints, including a convincing victory in the Saratoga Special (G2) in his second career start in August 2022. The Gallant Bob was his second graded-stakes triumph and improved his career earnings to $601,700.

Damon’s Mound has run at six tracks over six distances and two surfaces in nine career starts. Pennsylvania-bred Ninetyprcentmaddie closed fast to finish fourth, followed by Ryvit, Dreaming of Kona, Depoli, Praetorian Guard and Sir Lancelot.

Nimitz Class upsets Gunite in Dirt Mile

Multiple Grade 1 winner Gunite looked on the way to his fourth victory of the year in the $300,000 Parx Dirt Mile until Thomas Coulter’s Nimitz Class closed well down the lane to upset the heavy favorite by 1 3/4 lengths.

Nimitz Class won the Dirt Mile in 1:38.34 over a main track rated sloppy.

The Pennsylvania-bred sire by Munnings and trained by Bruce Kravets made his 20th start and eighth of the year off a runner-up finish in the Aug. 21 Storm Cat Stakes at Parx. The Dirt Mile was his fifth victory of the year and second win at Parx from three starts.

Gunite, under Tyler Gaffalione, sat a stalking trip from the gate and allowed Mish to take the field of seven up the backside through an opening quarter mile in 23.84 seconds. Mish galloped content on the lead under Tyler Conner and together they posted a half-mile in 47.59 seconds with Gunite still in contention. Nimitz Class drew closer under Paco López and steadily found themselves in contention turning for home.

Gunite controlled the lead following six furlongs in 1:12.45 and led into the stretch as Mish began to tire. Gunite, urged for more, was met by Nimitz Class to his outside, and the latter wrestled the lead from Gunite and was clear to the wire. Gunite held second over Mish, who bested the rest for third. Dr B, Civil War and Dr Ardito completed the field.

Nimitz Class, bred by Coulter’s Arrowwood Farm, returned $15 to win.

Nobody Listens is loud in Turf Monster

Nobody Listens, a 5-year-old Indiana-bred gelding, won his second consecutive grass race when he captured the $250,000 Turf Monster Stakes (G3) over a yielding course.

Ridden by Gaffalione, Nobody Listens went to the front from the start of the five-furlong race and never was headed.

Trained by Tim Eggleston, who is based at Horseshoe Indianapolis, Nobody Listens upped his record to three wins in seven career starts on grass. The Turf Monster was his second straight win on the Parx lawn after taking the Parx Dash at five furlongs Aug. 22.

The son of Conveyance has 14 wins in 26 career starts. He is owned by Matt Kwiatkowski, Jason Kaylor and Roger Browning.

Gaffalione gunned Nobody Listens out of the gate and carved out fractions of 23.80 and 48.46 seconds. He was pursued down the backstretch by 24-1 long shot Smooth B, trained by Butch Reid and ridden by Mychel Sánchez.

Gaffalione let the reins a notch as the field came into the stretch, and Nobody Listens responded, spurting away to win by three lengths. The 3-1 second choice in the field of 10 won at 1:01.40 and paid $8.20.

Smooth B held second, two lengths ahead of Roses for Debra, one of the two fillies in the field and the 3-5 favorite. Five Dreams, Alexis S, Determined Kingdom, Surprise Boss, Just Jeremy, filly All That Magic and Patriarch Artie completed the order of finish.

Next wins by 25 in Greenwood Cup

Long-distance specialist Next extended his win streak to three with a runaway victory in the $200,000 Greenwood Cup Stakes (G3).

Michael Foster’s 5-year-old Not This Time gelding splashed through the slop in his 25-length victory over My Imagination in the 1 1/2-mile race. Regular rider Luan Machado guided Next to his latest marathon victory, adding this to his 2023 victories in the Birdstone Stakes at 1 3/4 miles at Saratoga and the Brooklyn Stakes (G2) at 1 1/2 miles at Belmont Park.

Next won Saturday with a time of 2:33.28. He took the lead from the break and led the field of seven through fractions of 25.72, 50.12, 1:15.51 and 1:40.91 under mild pressure from defending Greenwood champ Riden With Biden.

The odds-on favorite, Next (1-9) shrugged of Riden With Biden around the far turn the final time and drew off with authority through the stretch. My Imagination edged Riden With Biden for the place spot, and Forewarned followed them in fourth. Fowler Blue, Calibrate and Suigu Star completed the field.

Claimed for $62,500 by Foster and trainer Doug Cowans in April 2022, Next improved to 9-for-19 with earnings of $915,672 in his career. He has won 6 of 8 since the claim.

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