Abel Tasman looks for fourth straight in Cotillion
From a Parx Racing release
The Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes features the likely three year-old filly champion, Abel Tasman. The multiple Grade 1 winner gives trainer Bob Baffert a strong hand on Pennsylvania’s biggest racing day, as he will send out both Abel Tasman and the Pennsylvania Derby favorite, Travers winner West Coast.
A Grade 1 winner as a two year-old, winning the Starlet last December, Abel Tasman comes into the Cotillion off of three consecutive Grade 1 wins. Sweeping from last over a sloppy track at Churchill, she won the Kentucky Oaks back in early May. In the Acorn at Belmont, she got a brilliant ride from Mike Smith and prevailed over a game Salty, and she then got a stiff challenge in the Coaching Club American Oaks from the improving Elate, but showed her courage to hold on to win that one by a head. She’ll open as the 8-5 choice with Mike Smith aboard.
Salty (5-1) is among those slated to tackle Abel Tasman. Among those looking to knock off Abel Tasman are Actress and It Tiz Well. The Mark Casse trainee won the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks back in April and has placed in three consecutive Grade 1 events. Well-traveled youngster Tyler Gaffalione is slated to have the ride.
Actress (5-1) is trained by the high-percentage Jason Servis. Like Irap, who is competing in the Pennsylvania Derby, Actress also broke her maiden against graded stakes foes. Having lost her first two starts, she went to Pimlico and broke her maiden winning the G2 Black Eyed Susan. Fourth in the recent G1 Alabama, the shorter one mile and one-sixteenth distance of the Cotillion may play to her favor. She’ll have Kendrick Carmouche in the irons.
The cut-back in distance could also help Alabama runner up, It Tiz Well (4-1). She’s a multiple Grade 3 winner, taking the Honeybee back in March down at Oaklawn and then winning the Delaware Oaks in early July. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, she made all the running in the Alabama, but the 1 1/4-mile distance took its toll and she weakened late, but still held gamely for second. Her two Grade 3 wins came with stalking trips, and if she could work out another under jockey Drayden Van Dyke, she could prove tough.
The rest of the Cotillion field includes Lockdown (8-1), trained by Bill Mott; Larry Jones trainee Proud and Fearless (20-1); Doug O’Neill’s Mopotism (20-1); the Todd Pletcher-trained entry of Thirstforthecup, Stay Fond, and Run and Go, lined at 12-1; Sine Wave (20-1), from the Ben Perkins, Jr. barn; and Anthony Margotta trainee Teresa Z (12-1).
A terrific undercard is topped by the $300,000 G3 Gallant Bob Stakes, a six furlong sprint for three year-olds headed by Grade 2 winner, Coal Front. The Stay Thirsty colt didn’t make his debut until late April, but quickly won this first three starts, the run capped off win a victory in the G2 Amsterdam at Saratoga. He’ll break from post six with John Velazquez up for Todd Pletcher and opens as part of an entry that’s favored at 2-1.
Two other stakes will be contested on the giant Saturday program. State-breds square off in the $100,000 Alphabet Soup on the turf at one mile and one-sixteenth while another outstanding field will enter the gate for $150,000 PA Derby Championship Stakes, named for the 2016 PA Derby winner, Connect.