Songbird the class of the Cotillion

Six three-year-old fillies will line up at the gate at Parx for the $1 million Grade I Cotillion Stakes on Saturday afternoon. SONGBIRD is the main attraction and the presumptive favorite, but she could get a stern test before moving on to the Breeders’ Cup in November. Post time for the Cotillion, which is Race 10 on the program, is 4:55 p.m. EST. Be sure to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#5 SONGBIRD (1-2, morning-line favorite) is a perfect 10-for-10 in her career, and has never really been challenged in any of her starts. That’s not to say that she’s been ducking the competition; far from it. SONGBIRD left her base in Southern California to come to Saratoga over the summer, and she won both the Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks and the Grade I Alabama Stakes. SONGBIRD has already beaten two of her three main rivals in the Cotillion; #1 CARINA MIA in the CCA Oaks, and #4 LAND OVER SEA numerous times in Southern California and at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

The horse she and jockey Mike Smith may need to worry about is #2 CATHRYN SOPHIA (5-2), winner of this year’s Kentucky Oaks thanks in part to the defection of SONGBIRD due to illness.

CATHRYN SOPHIA is 6-for-8 in her career, and her two losses came with some legitimate excuses. She took part in a strong speed duel in the Grade I Ashland at Keeneland and was out-sprinted to the wire, then in the Grade I Acorn at Belmont she may not have cared for the track and didn’t get the best ride from regular pilot Javier Castellano. She rebounded off her dull Acorn effort with an easy tune-up win in the Princess of Sylmar Stakes over this oval on Sept. 3, beating #3 DISCO ROSE and #6 QUEENA ESTHER.

CATHRYN SOPHIA appears to be in top shape for trainer Jason Servis, but Jerry Hollendorfer’s SONGBIRD has never shown a sign of vulnerability leading up to a race. I won’t pick against her.

Julien Leparoux regains the mount on CARINA MIA (5-1), who did not recover well off her CCA Oaks defeat. She returned in the Grade I Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga to finish third under Joel Rosario. I’ll look to beat her in the final trifecta spot with LAND OVER SEA. Mario Gutierrez knows this filly well, and he can time her late rally to take advantage of those who will be working hard early to keep up with SONGBIRD.

The play: $8 trifecta 5/2/4, $2 trifecta 5/4/2 ($10)

DFJ analysis: Mike Smith seems like a good bargain at $7,500. In addition to SONGBIRD, Smith has a shot to pick up points with Who’s Out (12-1) in the Grade III Gallant Bob and Summer Revolution in the Grade II Pennsylvania Derby. You could do worse than Javier Castellano ($11,000), but he doesn’t seem to be worth the high salary this week as most of his good mounts are not in stakes races at Parx this Saturday. He rides CATHRYN SOPHIA here and Connect (12-1) in the aforementioned Pennsylvania Derby.

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