Songbird, Cathryn Sophia bout in Philly set in $1 million Cotillion

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

September 19th, 2016

In fictional boxing terms, undefeated champion filly Songbird will enter her bout in Saturday's $1 million Cotillion (G1) at Parx Racing, near Philadelphia, as the equine equivalent of Apollo Creed. However, even with Parx-trained Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Cathryn Sophia in the field, Songbird's popularity is such that the presence of a loose equine version of Rocky Balboa will not sway most of locals from supporting the champ with their money and their cheers.

The battle between Songbird and Cathryn Sophia, delayed some five months after an illness knocked Songbird out of Oaks consideration, will finally take place over 1 1/16 miles. Since missing the Churchill Downs engagement, Songbird has run up victories eight, nine, and 10 in the Summertime Oaks (G2) and the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1)/Alabama (G1) two-fer at Saratoga by a combined margin of 18 3/4 lengths. Even a challenge from Acorn (G1) winner Carina Mia in the CCA Oaks was dispensed with by more than five lengths.

After taking the Kentucky Oaks impressively by 2 3/4 lengths, Cathryn Sophia weakened to third in the Acorn after pressing a stronger pace. Although she spent much of the summer in training at Saratoga, her immediate goal has always been the Cotillion. Parx-based trainer John Servis prepped the filly earlier this month in the $150,000 Princess of Sylmar, a race ostensibly created for her, and she won in facile fashion over a mile.

No match for Songbird going nine furlongs, Carina Mia's chance improve ever so slightly at this shorter trip. The Bill Mott trainee passed up another shot in the 1 1/4-mile Alabama by cutting back to seven furlongs for the Ballerina (G1). However, showing none of the rating tactics successfully employed in the Acorn, the daughter of Malibu Moon dueled on or near the lead nearly the whole way before retreating late to third while facing older rivals.

Three others are in the Cotillion field, with Land Over Sea the best on paper. Five times behind Songbird earlier in their respective careers, Land Over Sea found refuge in New Orleans by taking the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) in March. Subsequently second in the Kentucky Oaks, she then endured a rough trip in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at Pimlico and last time was up the track in the Belmont Oaks (G2) on turf.

(Teresa Genaro photo)