Post-time favorite Close Hatches took the lead coming into the stretch and drove to victory Saturday in Parx Racing's $1 million Cotillion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The 1 1/16-mile stakes was the co-feature with the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, 8-5 favorite Close Hatches was making her first start in three months with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith riding in place of the injured Joel Rosario.
Taking the lead at the start was 3-1 second pick Sweet Lulu who was joined by Close Hatches and 4-1 third choice My Happy Face in the nine-horse field.
The three top runners set the pace into the backstretch where they were three across the track into the far turn. Around the turn, Close Hatches drew even with Sweet Lulu as My Happy Face dropped back.
Coming off the final turn, Close Hatches drew clear of Sweet Lulu and separated herself from the field.
Close Hatches, owned by Juddmonte Farms, hit the wire two-lengths ahead of Sweet Lulu who was able to hold off the late running Street Girl. My Happy Face held on for fourth.
"I was pleased," Mott said about the winning performance. "Mike (Smith) said she looked a little fresh and she was ready to go. He let her get into her stride and do her thing. Obviously, it turned out to be the right thing."
Completing the order of finish were Dancing Afleet, Asiya, Seaneen Girl, Promise Me More and Carnival Court. Flash Forward was an early scratch.
The time for the Cotillion was 1:44.03 on a fast track.
"Got her out in the clear," Smith said, "just let her get in there, her beautiful stride and she pretty much took it to them."
Close Hatches adds $556,000 to her bankroll and recorded her fifth win in seven career starts. The filly, who began racing just this January, has earned $1,007,300.
"This is really the only race we had on her dance card," Mott noted about the filly's future plans. "We already talked about coming here and we haven't talked about anything beyond this. I'm sure that will come up in the conversation in the next week or two."
The filly won the Mother Goose Stakes in her last start at Belmont Park on June 22. Close Hatches began her career on Jan. 26 at Gulfstream Park and won her first three starts. She was seventh to Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks and second in the Acorn behind Midnight Lucky.
Close Hatches returned $5.20, $3.00 and $2.60. Sweet Lulu paid $3.80 and $3.40, and Street Girl paid $5.40 to show.