01/08/2013 6:45PM

2012 Eclipse Awards: My Miss Aurelia

photo by: Barbara D. Livingston

By sweeping her first four starts, including the Frizette and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, My Miss Aurelia ran away with an Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly in 2011 for the partnership of Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton, who bought this daughter of Smart Strike as a yearling and named her for his mother.

Events did not proceed quite as smoothly after that, however. A shin injury sustained late in the year delayed My Miss Aurelia’s return to the races, and as the winter went along at Vinery in Florida, her progress was slower than expected.

“The veterinarian would say, ‘She’s 80 percent, she’s 90 percent, she’s 95 percent,’ ” recalled Barbara Banke, who bred the filly along with the late Jess Jackson. “I can’t say I’m a patient person, but it’s worth it when you’re bringing back a champion. We wanted to wait until she was 100 percent.”

My Miss Aurelia returned to the work tab in May and made her long-awaited seasonal debut in the $100,000 Mandy’s Gold Stakes at Saratoga, where she had launched her career the previous summer by winning a maiden race and the Adirondack Stakes. She was off last after a flat-footed start, and forced to race wide, but won comfortably by three lengths despite lugging in through the stretch.

“The filly ran hard last year, and she was away from the races for nine months, so it was excellent to see her back,” said trainer Steve Asmussen after the comeback race. “How good she is gives you a lot of options.”

The seven-furlong Test Stakes was considered as an option for her next start, but ultimately the decision was made to go to Parx Racing for the $1 million Cotillion Stakes – and a showdown with pro-tem division leader Questing – as it afforded the filly a bit more time between starts.
Despite having only the one sprint under her belt, My Miss Aurelia displayed the heart of a champion in the Cotillion, engaging in a shoulder-to-shoulder battle with Questing through the stretch, and prevailing by a head over the Alabama heroine to remain unbeaten from six lifetime starts.

“She’s a very good mare, but it’s a tall task for her to run against Questing off her one 6 1/2-furlong race,” noted Asmussen. “But if you don’t run [against Questing], who would you wait for?”

After the Cotillion, My Miss Aurelia faced older rivals for the first time in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, still playing catch-up with only two races since the prior November.

Although My Miss Aurelia suffered her first defeat, she ran the fastest race of her career, earning a new top Beyer Speed Figure of 106 for her game runner-up finish behind defending titlist Royal Delta.

“I hate that she didn’t win, but I just love this filly,” said Asmussen. “She never blinks. I wish she could have won, but it was a beautiful race.”
My Miss Aurelia concluded her sophomore campaign by running a close third in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes on Dec. 26 at Santa Anita.