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Serengeti Empress Faces Deep Field in Cotillion

Serengeti Empress

Photo Copyright Eclipse Sportswire

By Emily Shields for TVG

Saturday’s $1 million Cotillion Stakes (G1) at Parx Racing – a Win and You’re In race for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff - will pit some of the best three-year-old fillies in training against each other to clear up the scrambled divisional picture. Of the 11 entrants, seven are graded stakes winners this year, including Kentucky Oaks (G1) heroine Serengeti Empress.

Heading into the Kentucky Oaks, Joel Politi’s Serengeti Empress had won the Pocahontas (G2) at Churchill Downs by 19 ½ lengths at two, and the Rachel Alexandra (G2) at the Fair Grounds at three. She went to the lead in the Oaks and never looked back, scoring by 1 ¾ lengths under Jose Ortiz. Since then, the Tom Amoss-trainee has been second in both the Acorn (G1) and the Test (G1) behind classmates Covfefe and Guarana, the latter of whom is here today.

Three Chimenys Farm’s Guarana is a current divisional leader based off her unbeaten record, including two grade 1 wins. The daughter of Ghostzapper broke her maiden for trainer Chad Brown at Keeneland in April, scoring by 14 ¾ lengths. She was able to run a spectacular race in the grade 1 Acorn next out, running away to defeat Serengeti Empress by six lengths over a mile. Guarana stretched out to 1 1/8 miles to win the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) in July at Saratoga and has since had a bullet workout at Belmont Park September 14. While Jose Ortiz chose to stay with Guarana, his brother Irad will climb aboard Serengeti Empress.

Kaleem Shah’s Bellafina will put blinkers on in the Cotillion after working with them September 15 at Santa Anita. The Simon Callaghan-trainee was a dual grade 1 winner last year and took the grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks in March, marking herself as the favorite for the Kentucky Oaks. She ran fifth there, then shortened up to sprint in the Test and finished third. Bellafina is two for three at the 1 1/16-mile distance and will have Flavien Prat aboard.

Jaywalk will break from the outside under Joel Rosario, who was aboard when she crushed the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) by 5 ½ lengths. She finished third in the grade 1 Ashland earlier this year and was sixth (but disqualified to 13th) in the Kentucky Oaks, and then went on to win the Delaware Oaks (G3) by nine lengths.

Defeating Jaywalk in the Monmouth Oaks (G3) was Theres a Chance Stable’s Horologist. She is riding a four-race win streak, including two Monmouth stakes, for trainer John Mazza. Luis Saez will ride the daughter of Gemologist, who has won half of her 10 starts.

After winning the Davona Dale (G2) earlier this year at Gulfstream Park, Jeltrin struggled to find the winner’s circle against top company. She was tenth in the Kentucky Oaks, third in the Acorn, and third in the Mother Goose, before running fifth in the Test. Over this Parx racing strip, the daughter of Tapizar rolled home to win the Cathryn Sophia by 7 ¾ lengths. Alexis Delgado owns and trains.

Street Band rounds out the top contenders. The Larry Jones trainee won the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) earlier this season, then added the Indiana Oaks (G3) in July. She was third in the Alabama (G1) over 1 ¼ miles last out. She is three for five at this distance.

Watch the Cotillion and all the other weekend stakes from Parx and the rest of the country live on TVG and TVG2.

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