COTILLION STAKES | PURSE: $750,000 | GRADE 2 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | 1 1/16 MILES
The rematch between Plum Pretty and It's Tricky turned out to be no match at all, with Plum Pretty running away to a 7 1/2- length victory in the Grade 2, $750,000 Cotillion Stakes on Saturday at Parx Racing.
It's Tricky had beaten Plum Pretty by three-quarters of a length in the Coaching Club American Oaks on July 23 at Saratoga, then finished second there to Plum Pretty's fading fourth in the Alabama Stakes, but Plum Pretty decisively turned the tables Saturday.
Outrunning Love and Pride for the early lead while setting quick splits of 23.11 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 46.74 to the half, and 1:10.70 for six furlongs, Plum Pretty and Rafael Bejarano opened major daylight on the far turn and poured it on in the stretch, leaving their five rivals far behind. Her winning time of 1:41.19 for 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track established a stakes record and was only a tick off the track standard. The Parx surface was lively but not exceptionally fast Saturday, and good horses have raced in past Cotillions, giving the record-setting time some substance.
It's Tricky, the 6-5 favorite under Eddie Castro, came under a drive before the quarter pole and while no threat to the winner managed to hold a clear second, finishing more than four lengths in front of 72-1 shot Daring Reality. Buster's Ready was fourth, Love and Pride a distant fifth after disputing the pace, and Halo Dolly sixth. Plum Pretty, trained to victory for owner Peachtree Stable by Bob Baffert, paid $5 to win. The Medaglia d'Oro filly won for the fourth time in nine starts and notched her first victory since capturing the Kentucky Oaks by a neck.
Baffert, in California on Saturday, said Plum Pretty had mildly struggled over the Saratoga surface and perked up considerably upon returning to California.
"She was really training well for this race," Baffert said. "Saratoga was so demanding. She had trouble getting over that track. When I got her back here, all of a sudden she turned a corner again. She trained like she was before the Oaks."
Baffert didn't rule out a trip back to Churchill for the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, but said Plum Pretty's participation would depend on how she came out of the Cotillion and trained in coming weeks.
"If she's training like she did, we'd have to consider it," he said. "I can tell when she's really on her game."