09/29/2011 2:36PM

Parx: Bad manners may be the only thing that can stop It's Tricky in Cotillion

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Tom Keyser
It’s Tricky (left) and Plum Pretty will resume their rivalry in the Cotillion.

It’s Tricky embodies the notion that one would rather have a fast horse with a bad mind than a slow horse with a good one.

Once It’s Tricky finds herself in a horse race she’s fine – really fine. Back-to-back Grade 1 wins in the Acorn and Coaching Club American Oaks in New York put her in the 3-year-old-filly championship conversation. It’s the more mundane stuff with which It’s Tricky struggles. A couple minutes after winning the Coaching Club at Saratoga, It’s Tricky ejected jockey Eddie Castro from the saddle. And that was not the first incident.

“She is tricky,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “She’s named properly.”

But It’s Tricky already has provided 538,000 good reasons for connections to accommodate her behavior, and the filly can add significantly to that bankroll in the $750,000 Cotillion Stakes on Saturday at Parx Racing. Provided she can get there without incident. It’s Tricky has been on vans before, but never to ship into a race on short notice.

“You always worry about shipping a little,” said McLaughlin, who trains the filly for Godolphin Racing. “I don’t think it will be an issue.”

It’s Tricky has the luxury of a security blanket for her trip from Long Island to Bensalem, Pa., with a trusted stable pony accompanying her on the journey, McLaughlin said.

“We train her every day with the pony. She hardly will go to the track without the escort service.”

The Cotillion marks a rematch with Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty, whom It’s Tricky faced and beat in the two Saratoga races. The Coaching Club over 1 1/8 miles was close, with It’s Tricky wearing down pacesetting Plum Pretty in the final furlong to win by three-quarters of a length. Neither horse relished the 1 1/4 miles of the Alabama Stakes, won in a romp by Royal Delta, but It’s Tricky stayed the distance better than Plum Pretty, holding second while Plum Pretty faded to fourth, about four lengths behind It’s Tricky. A turn back to 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 2 Cotillion should help both horses.

“We definitely wanted to turn back, and a mile and a sixteenth should suit us well,” McLaughlin said. “She’s doing great.”

While the Cotillion was drawn with a field of only four others, there are possibilities within that quartet. Buster’s Ready won a humdrum edition of the Mother Goose by more than four lengths before going off form in the Coaching Club, but after 10 starts she seems exposed, and probably not quite as good as the likely favorite. Trainer Todd Pletcher’s other entrant, Love and Pride, might be more interesting. She has won 3 of only 4 career starts and has notched consecutive blowout wins, the last going two turns at Saratoga in a minor stakes. Love and Pride has early speed and may race with Plum Pretty on the lead.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer sent Blind Luck out to finish second to Havre de Grace in the 2010 Cotillion, and tries this year with Halo Dolly, a filly with parallels to Blind Luck. Both horses are by off-brand sires (Halo Dolly is a Cal-bred by Popular) and raced in maiden-claimers, and both improved after being purchased and turned over to Hollendorfer. Halo Dolly has not yet done anything to rival Blind Luck’s accomplishments, but she does enter having won five straight races – on dirt, turf, and synthetic surfaces – by a combined margin of 18 lengths. Russell Baze sees fit to come in for the ride.

◗ Say a Novena was made the 7-5 morning-line favorite in the $150,000 Brandywine for 2-year-old fillies, but expect odds roughly half that high. Second in the Matron at Belmont and the Sorority at Monmouth, Say a Novena appears to tower over five foes in the seven-furlong Brandywine.

◗ The 3-year-old filly Ann’s Smart Dancer, 5 for 6 lifetime, stretches out from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles and faces older horses for the first time in the $100,000 Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Distaff for statebred fillies and mares.