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Mike Smith celebrates aboard Songbird as owner Rick Porter leads them to the winner's circle after the Cotillion Stakes.
The richest races on the continent this weekend were run on Saturday at Parx Racing with two $1 million events run at the Bensalem, Pennsylvania oval. Conditions were excellent most of the day with mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70's, with an estimated 16,000 fans in attendance. The main track was rated fast and the turf was firm.
The co-feature race on Saturday was the $1 million Cotillion Stakes (G1) for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the main track, and is the only Grade 1 race run in the Keystone State. A compact field of just 6 faced the starter, with undefeated Songbird sent off as the 3-10 favorite off her wins in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and Alabama (G1) both at Saratoga. In to challenge her included 5-2 second choice Cathryn Sophia, winner of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and third in the Acorn (G1), and 7-1 third choice Carina Mia, third in the Ballerina (G1) last out.
Songbird leads down the stretch in the Cotillion.
Also on the card was the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) won by Connect.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Songbird Smith 2.60 2.10 2.10 1 Carina Mia Leparoux 3.60 2.10 2 Cathryn Sophia Castellano 2.10 Winning Time: 1:44.02 $2 Exacta 5-1 99.00 $0.50 Trifecta 5-1-2 450.60 $0.10 Superfecta 5-1-2-4b 174.19
Left: Songbird in the winner's circle. Winning owner Rick Porter said, "I think Jerry (Hollendorfer) and I agree the (Breeders' Cup) Distaff is the race to run her in. There's some big cheese in that race, but that's the fun of it – hook the big ones and hopefully beat 'em. All along we've thought about sticking with the girls. The time will come next year when we talk about it. I think I can talk (Jerry) into taking a shot. It doesn't get any better than to watch her today, she was just gorgeous. I'm proud to watch her race, she gives me chills every time. It's just so much fun to watch her run. I thought this race fit in with the Breeders' Cup, the timing is perfect."
Right: Songbird heads back to the barn after the race. Winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said, "Right now I would say we could train up to the Breeders' Cup. You come to a point in the road where you have to meet the big ones, and there's a couple of big ones out there at Santa Anita, Beholder and Stellar Wind, those horses can really run. Our horse can really run, so we'd like to try those, and I think that's good competition – if we all get there to the race at Santa Anita, so you have to get there first. We'll be looking forward to it if we can get there, and I think that we will."
Left: Songbird in the paddock before the race. Winning jockey Mike Smith said, "She was so happy, so calm and cool. She drew away, she was having fun today, that was the old her and I was so glad to see that. There have been times when I had to ask her for a jump or two, maybe in the Coaching Club American Oaks for about a good 100 yards, but she does things so easily and I'm so blessed to be a part of her. She seems to have blossomed. I don't know if that's possible or not. I think she likes the cooler weather."
Right: Songbird returns after the race.
Left: Second place finisher Carina Mia in the post parade. Jockey Julien Leparoux said, "I rode the way she wanted to be ridden today. We had the inside post, she broke good, this time Mike kind of looked at us. We didn't go crazy, crazy; she fought back, she just got beat today by a champion."
Right: Third place finisher Cathryn Sophia in the paddock before the race. Trainer John Servis said, "I'm very surprised, I thought maybe she was a little flat, because I thought she'd be a little closer to the pace. Javier (Castellano) said 'no, she was comfortable as can be and I was just sitting.' He said at the 3/8 pole 'I thought I was a winner.' She just didn't go on."
Left: The jockeys for the Cotillion in the paddock before the race. From left to right: Luis Ocasio, Edwin Rivera, Mike Smith, Julien Leparoux, Mario Gutierrez, and Javier Castellano.
Right: The fillies break from the gate for the Cotillion.
Cyrus Alexander wins the PA Derby Champion Stakes
Jockey Javier Castellano sent 8-1 Res Judicata to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 24.50, 48.55, and 1:12.84 while pressed by Mr. Jordan and stalked by Cyrus Alexander. Entering the lane, Mr. Jordan gained a short lead through 1 mile in 1:38.52, but Cyrus Alexander came out for room under Rafael Bejarano and rallied to win by a head over 15-2 War Story in 1:45.27. It was a neck back to Mr. Jordan third.
Left: Cyrus Alexander in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said, "I was wondering if Rafael was going to go between horses or come around. I didn't think he could make it, but the horse made up a lot of ground in the last 1/16 and I'm very grateful that he did that. We wanted to get a win with him and get his confidence built up. He has won a Grade 3, and if we can ever get to a Grade 2 or Grade 1 it would be good, because he is very valuable as a stallion."
Right: Cyrus Alexander in the walking ring.
Granny's Kitten (inside) wins the Alphabet Soup Handicap
Jockey Kendrick Carmouche sent 10-1 I'll Call to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 24.27, 48.94, and 1:12.75 over the firm going while pressed by Uncle Dave and stalked by Granny's Kitten. Entering the lane, Granny's Kitten under Florent Geroux came through on the rail to gain a short lead through 1 mile in 1:37.29. The pair dueled to the line with Granny's Kitten prevailing by a neck in 1:43.21. It was 2 1/4 lengths back to Uncle Dave third.
Left: Granny's Kitten in the winner's circle. The Mike Maker trainee improved his record to 4 wins, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds in 14 starts, earning $342,371 for owner-breeder Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
Right: Granny's Kitten heads back to the barn after the race.