Abel Tasman at Churchill Downs

Abel Tasman at Churchill Downs (Coady Photo/Churchill Downs)

Cotillion Stakes Preview

by Alastair Bull

The Cotillion Stakes (G1) may not be a “win and you’re in” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), but it’s been one of the most important guides for the big race in the past 15 years.

Run over 1 1/16 miles at Parx Racing, the $1 million race for 3-year-old fillies has been the final lead-up for many horses before the biggest race of the year for female dirt gallopers, and its winners usually perform well on the big stage.

The first winner of the race that went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Distaff was Ashado in 2004. Untapable (2014) was the only other filly to complete the double, but several other winners were right in the finish of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Havre De Grace (2010) finished third in the Distaff, while My Miss Aurelia (2012), Close Hatches (2013), and Songbird (2016) all finished second, the latter by an inch to Beholder.

Abel Tasman will go into this year’s Cotillion Stakes as the 8-5 morning line favorite. She has all but secured the Eclipse Award for Champion 3-Year-Old Female after winning the Kentucky Oaks (G1), the Acorn Stakes (G1), and the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at her last three starts. Another victory would show she’s ready to take on leading older mares Stellar Wind and Forever Unbridled in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Acorn Stakes runner-up Salty, one of Abel Tasman’s most regular opponents, returns to face her again in the Cotillion. Others taking her on after some good form include Delaware Oaks winner It Tiz Well, Black-Eyed Susan Stakes victor Actress, Monmouth Oaks winner Teresa Z, and Kentucky Oaks third-place finisher Lockdown.