09/17/2008 12:00AM

Proud Spell the monster in Cotillion


A month ago, trainer Larry Jones was certain he wouldn't be taking 3-year-old filly Proud Spell to Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup. Jones hasn't changed his mind, but he's now at least mulling over the idea.

In what could either be her final start of the season or a stepping-stone to the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic on Oct. 24, Proud Spell looms an overwhelming favorite over six other 3-year-old fillies in Saturday's Grade 2, $750,000 Fitz Dixon Cotillion Stakes at Philadelphia Park.

Proud Spell has already won four Grade 1 and Grade 2 stakes this season, including the Kentucky Oaks and the Alabama at Saratoga last time out.

Speaking to reporters during a national teleconference on Tuesday, Jones left open the possibility of taking Proud Spell to Southern California, where she would face the unbeaten Zenyatta and renew her rivalry with Music Note, the filly she outlasted by a head in the Alabama.

"If she comes out of this race as good as she's been coming out, we could be very well headed for California," Jones said.

He is concerned, however, that the grind of a campaign that began in February may soon take a physical toll.

"She thinks she's a racing machine, but I know she's flesh and bones," Jones said. "Sooner or later, all horses get tired. At some point, she's got to start showing signs of being tired. But we're just taking it one race at a time, and we'll see what happens."

The competition in the Cotillion includes Seattle Smooth, who matched Proud Spell's Alabama Beyer Speed Figure of 101 with her 7 1/4-length romp in the Go for Wand at Delaware Park three weeks ago, and stretch-out sprinter By the Light, who finished second to champion juvenile filly Indian Blessing in the Grade 1 Prioress and won her only start beyond six furlongs by 5 1/4 lengths at Delta Downs.

Grade 2, $750,000 Fitz Dixon Cotillion

Post Horse Trainer Jockey
1 Color Me Up D. Wayne Lukas Frank Pennington
2 Million Dollar Run Marcelo Polanco Kendrick Carmouche
3 Never Retreat Seth Benzel Garrett Gomez
4 Seattle Smooth Anthony Dutrow Jose Lezcano
5 Picker Hamilton Smith No rider
6 Proud Spell Larry Jones Gabriel Saez
7 By the Light Richard Dutrow Jr. Edgar Prado