My Miss Aurelia edged Questing in the Cotillion Stakes (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire).
By Bob Ehalt
Unless you’re suffering from amnesia – or if you put it out of mind because you bought into that Mayan calendar stuff – there should be no need to remind anyone that Christmas is Dec. 25.
But for the connections of My Miss Aurelia, the real gift from Santa may not come until Dec. 26, if it all.
For on the day after Christmas, My Miss Aurelia could wrap up an Eclipse Award for owners Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton and trainer Steve Asmussen.
For even if My Miss Aurelia does indeed capture the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes on Wednesday at Santa Anita Park, there’s no guarantee that she will be named the year’s best 3-year-old filly. But it would certainly give her a highly compelling case.
At the present time, the race for the 3-year-old filly championship looks a lot like the Cotillion Stakes (G1) back in September, with My Miss Aurelia and Questing locked in a battle well ahead of the rest of the field.
The vote might even turn out to be as close as the Cotillion proved to be when My Miss Aurelia prevailed by a head on that September afternoon at Parx Racing. The La Brea will tell us more.
At the present time, Questing is more accomplished than My Miss Aurelia, yet the Stonestreet filly owns a 2-0 record against Questing.
Actually, it should be 1 plus an asterisk to 0. Here’s why:
After starting the year with two dull outings on the turf, Questing looked a future Rachel Alexandra when she made her first dirt start on June 24 at Belmont Park. She won that allowance race by 3 ¾ lengths then exploded on the national scene when she captured the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) by 4 ¼ lengths and then the Alabama Stakes (G1) by nine lengths.
QUESTING ROMPS IN ALABAMA
After those two Grade 1 wins came the loss to My Miss Aurelia followed by the asterisk, a glitch in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1) when she showed no interest in running and was pulled up on the backstretch. Subsequent reports indicated Questing sustained an eye injury when hit with dirt early in the Breeders’ Cup race.
Meanwhile, My Miss Aurelia has enjoyed a shorter but nonetheless productive campaign.
The undefeated champion 2-year-old filly of 2011, My Miss Aurelia did not return to the races in 2012 until she won a minor stakes at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 8.
Her next start was the Cotillion, which pushed her career record to 6-for-6 and set the stage for what might have been the best effort of her career.
My Miss Aurelia finished second in the Ladies’ Classic, which was hardly a disgrace. She lost by only 1 ½ lengths to Royal Delta, who most likely will be named the champion older female.
Match the two fillies’ records side by side and Questing stands out. She has two wins and a second in Grade 1 company while My Miss Aurelia had a win and a second in Grade 1 stakes. Edge, Questing.
But now, with My Miss Aurelia set to run in another Grade 1 stakes, the scales could soon tilt in her direction. Aside from giving both of them two wins and a second in Grade 1 stakes, My Miss Aurelia’s second is far more impressive. While the Cotillion was a four-horse field with two completely overmatched starters, this year’s Ladies’ Classic was considered one of the best fields ever assembled for the race.
Put it all together and the La Brea looms the swing state in this election. A win and My Miss Aurelia deserves the award. A defeat and My Miss Aurelia’s losing streak would suddenly stretch to three: the Ladies’ Classic, La Brea and the Eclipse Award voting.
A very merry Christmas or a lump of coal in the stocking on the fireplace. The day we’ll know more is Dec. 26. Don’t forget.
And what are your thoughts? Is the La Brea a possible game-changer in the race for the 3-year-old filly championship?