A slight lull in what will become a furious pair of Challenge weekends ahead is filled by Parx Racing Saturday in Bensalem, Pa., where the “Win and You’re In” Cotillion (G1), an automatic qualifier for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff, will serve as a co-feature on a card that is highlighted by the Pennsylvania Derby (G1), which, with the late scratch of Maximum Security, sees Triple Crown rivals WAR OF WILL and IMPROBABLE as the pair to beat.
Both the Cotillion and the Pennsylvania Derby will be televised live on NBC at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday as a part of the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In – Presented by America’s Best Racing.”
The Cotillion, run at 1 1/16 miles, is shaping up as one of the best races in the 3-year-old filly ranks this year, with Three Chimneys Farm’s homebred GUARANA putting her undefeated record on the line for trainer Chad Brown. The daughter of 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Ghostzapper has been a dynamo in her three starts, winning her debut at Keeneland in April by 14 ¾ lengths, Belmont Park’s Acorn (G1) in June by 6 lengths, and then passing the two-turn test when she wired Saratoga’s Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) July 19. A Cotillion win would give Guarana a clear divisional lead over stablemate Dunbar Road, who won Saratoga’s Alabama (G1) Aug. 17.
Competition runs deep, however, with Joel Politi’s SERENGETI EMPRESS taking another shot at Guarana after she set a torrid pace and was a clear second in the Acorn. The daughter of Alteration won the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs in May for trainer Tom Amoss and has been as impressive in defeat as she has in victory, as she was also a super second in Saratoga’s Test (G1) Aug. 3. Serengeti Empress is 5-for-10 lifetime, including a win in Fair Grounds’ Rachel Alexandra (G2) in February, and a win could start a late-season push for a divisional championship.
Kaleem Shah’s BELLAFINA, who won the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) in April for trainer Simon Callaghan but was just fifth in the Kentucky Oaks and a distant third in the Test, brings some star power, as does DJ Stable’s JAYWALK, who won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita for trainer John Servis but is just 1-for-5 since. AFLEET DESTINY, COLLEGEVILLE GIRL, HOROLOGIST, JELTRIN, SHE MAKES ME SMILE, STREET BAND, and SWEET SAMI D all have been entered in the “Win and You’re In” Cotillion.