09/22/2012 7:36PM

Parx: My Miss Aurelia wins stretch duel with Questing in Cotillion

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Barbara D. Livingston
My Miss Aurelia (left), under Corey Nakatani, manages to stay unbeaten by edging Questing by a head in the $1 million Cotillion.

BENSALEM, Pa. - My Miss Aurelia came up alongside Questing turning for home in Saturday’s $1 million Cotillion Stakes at Parx and the two-horse race that it appeared to be on paper was about to play out on the racetrack.

My Miss Aurelia, last year’s undefeated 2-year-old filly champion, and Questing, the pro tem leader of this year’s 3-year-old filly division, brushed each other a couple of times in the stretch, but in the end My Miss Aurelia, under Corey Nakatani, prevailed by a short head over Questing and Irad Ortiz Jr. in the Grade 1 Cotillion.

 The victory kept My Miss Aurelia undefeated in six career starts and likely will put her into the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at Santa Anita, where she will likely meet Questing again. My Miss Aurelia, who won the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, earned $586,000 to push her career earnings past the $2 million mark.

 My Miss Aurelia, a daughter of Smart Strike, was making only her second start of the year after missing the bulk of her 3-year-old season due to a shin injury diagnosed late last year. She had just one 6 1/2-furlong race under her belt - an overnight stakes win at Saratoga on Aug.  8 - and in Questing she was facing a filly who won the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama - both Grade 1 races at Saratoga.

 “She’s a very good mare, but it’s a tall task for her to run against Questing off of her one 6 1/2-furlong race. But if you don’t run [against Questing] who would you wait for?,” said Steve Asmussen, who trains My Miss Aurelia for the partnership of George Bolton and Stonestreet Stable.

Questing was loose on the lead through fractions of 25.19 seconds for the quarter, 50.04 for the half, and 1:14.72 for six furlongs. But the track was not favoring front-runners on Saturday in part because it was dry.

 Earlier in the day a couple of trainers, including Questing’s trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, sought out Parx management to ask why the track wasn’t being watered between races. The water trucks did come out midway through the card.

 “I was very upset it was dry, ridiculous track,” McLaughlin said. “We looked great going along in 50 to the half, but you know 50 for the half is not normal for Grade 1 horses and we had to give her seven pounds [124-117].”

 Ortiz floated My Miss Aurelia out a couple paths turning for home and the two brushed. With Nakatani resorting to a vigorous hand ride, Ortiz went to his left-handed whip extremely late, but to no avail.

 My Miss Aurelia covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.54 and returned $5.60 to win.

Nakatani called the bumping between the two fillies “very minor.”

 “[Questing] runs a little green, that’s why I wanted to stay next to him,” Nakatani said. “My filly was wanting to fight with her and run with her. She shifted out a little bit, but my filly she’s real game and strong and that’s why she’s still undefeated.”

Ortiz said the track “was too deep for her today” but said his filly was just outrun in the stretch.

 “I think that horse had more horse than me. She passed me very easy,” Ortiz said.

Said McLaughlin: “She’s a very nice filly, we’ll have to figure out what we’re going to do from here but, obviously it’s a tough beat, but she’s a good one.”

 Dixie Strike finished third while Moment in Dixie was last in the four-horse field.