Throughout the year, the American racing landscape is dotted with million dollar races. The Triple Crown Classics, the Arlington Million, and the Travers Stakes just to name a few. But other than Breeders Cup Day, nowhere are two million dollar races run on the same program. That will change next Saturday, September 22nd at Parx Racing in Bensalem. On Saturday the 22nd, Parx will host the $1 million G1 Cotillion Stakes for three year-old fillies and the $1 million G2 Pennsylvania Derby for three year-olds. There will some major horsepower showing up to compete for those lofty purses.
Historically run on separate dates, management at Parx decided earlier this year to put the track's two biggest races together and create one monster afternoon at the track. 'After much discussion, we decided this was the best way to showcase our track,' said Chief Operating Officer Joe Wilson. 'Two years ago we made the decision to move the PA Derby off its traditional Labor Day spot and place it as a Breeders Cup prep for the top three year-olds. Horsemen responded very favorably to that. This year went outside the box and put our two big races together and again, the response has been tremendous.'
Tremendous indeed. The two races next Saturday will draw some of the top thoroughbreds in their respective divisions. The Cotillion Stakes, upgraded to Grade 1 status by the American Graded Stakes Committee, will be the first Grade 1 race in the history of the Bensalem track and will feature a matchup between last year's 2YO filly champion, the undefeated My Miss Aurelia and the current dominant 3YO filly in training, Questing. Racing for Stonestreet Stables & George Bolton and trained by Steve Asmussen, My Miss Aurelia won three graded stakes last year including a season ending win in the G1 Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies. Owned by the internationally famous Godolphin Stable, Questing, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, comes into the race off consecutive blowout wins in two Grade 1 races at Saratoga.
The G2 PA Derby will be a rematch of last month's prestigious Travers Stakes. Godolphin's top 3YO, Alpha, also trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, finished in a dramatic dead heat in the mid-summer Derby with Golden Ticket who races for Magic City Thoroughbred Partners and trainer Ken McPeek. Alpha, a son of the great Bernardini, was beaten by only a neck in the G1 Wood Memorial before suffering a rough trip in the Kentucky Derby. He opened his fall campaign winning the G2 Jim Dandy before the historic dead heat in the Travers. Golden Ticket looked to have a monumental 33-1 upset in hand before Alpha caught him on the wire to share the spoils in the summer's biggest race.