By Christina Bossinakis
On paper, it appeared that Pretty Mischievous (Into Mischief), coming into Parx's GI Cotillion S. off three consecutive Grade I victories for Godolphin and Brendan Walsh, held her rivals over a barrel. Despite that fact, Ceiling Crusher (Mr. Big) took full advantage of the soggy, sealed track by going to the front and never looking back enroute to a narrow victory over the 2-1 Classic winner.
Breaking to the immediate inside of Pretty Mischievous, the 3-1 co-second choice flashed her usual early speed, leading Majestic Creed (Jimmy Creed) and Hoosier Philly (Into Mischief) through an opening quarter in :23 1/5 as the favorite was taken back to sixth, over seven lengths behind the early pace. Continuing to show the way through a :47 3/5 half, the bay started to feel the pressure from behind as Hoosier Philly started to put the screws to her, while Pretty Mischievous also began to narrow the distance while slipping between rivals rounding the far turn. Three wide turning for home, Ceiling Crusher held a solid advantage over the wilting Hoosier Philly and Pretty Mischievous, who was fanned out even wider while inching closer to the front. Digging in for the run to the wire, Ceiling Crusher found her lead dwindling late as the Godolphin homebred closed with purpose, however, it was too little too late as the pacesetter held on collect her first Grade I victory by a half-length. Occult (Into Mischief) closed from the back to be third, 1 1/4 length behind the runner up.
“The question was if she could handle [the 1 1/16 miles],” said winning rider Edwin Maldonado. “We just let her kick on and do her thing. She's been running short and taking the lead sprinting, so I just needed a good break and we got a good break. The rest was her. I don't like any horses getting close to her. By the time they came at her at the three-eighths pole, I just went.”
Following the race, winning trainer Doug O'Neill acknowledged the race went according to script.
“She handled everything perfectly. Edwin has gotten to know her. She has no accelerator stuck to her at all. She is not a run-off. Being in the two-hole, he did not want to get caught up in a lot of traffic. He rode her away from there and I just thank God no one else went on a suicide mission to stop her. She has that high-cruising speed and she carried it all the way to the wire. She does not have a huge turn of foot. She has a high cruising speed, a grinder, a lot of heart. He used all that to a T.”
When asked what might be next for the filly, O'Neill added, “She is not nominated. It will be up to the guys and gals, if they want to write a big check. This was our Breeders' Cup. We looked at this on the calendar months ago and the fact that is coming true…this was our Breeders' Cup today.”
As for the beaten favorite's performance, Walsh opined, “A little disappointed in that she maybe didn't handle the track great initially. Tyler [Gaffalione] said as soon as she switched her leads down the back, he kind of felt her way back into the race. But you know, Doug's filly got the jump on us and she was gone. That's the way it goes I'm afraid.
“Listen, if she can at all make her run she always makes her run. She always gives it 110%. Anytime she has been beaten she hasn't been beaten far. You can't be disappointed in her, we're just a little disappointed in the circumstances. Hats off to Doug's filly, too. She took her opportunity, and she won the race. I'm not taking anything away from her.”
Ceiling Crusher built her reputation facing primarily Cal-breds, stringing together an impressive four-race win streak, highlighted by Santa Anita's Evening Jewel S. in April followed by the Melair S. May 28. Defeated for the first time in her career in the seven-furlong Fleet Treat S. at Del Mar July 27, the bay rebounded to post a front-running score at that seaside venue while facing opening company in the one-mile GIII Torrey Pines S. Sept. 2.
Ceiling Crusher is the most accomplished of seven foals by her dam Palisadesprincess, a half-sister to Grade II-placed Moana (Uncle Mo). This represents the extended family of Grade I winner Cotton Blossom and GSW Vicarage. The victory marks the initial Grade I winner for Ceiling Crusher's sire, Mr. Big.
— TDN (@theTDN) September 23, 2023
Saturday, Parx Racing
COTILLION S.-GI, $1,000,000, Parx Racing, 9-23, 3yo, f, 1 1/16m, 1:45.69, sy.
1–CEILING CRUSHER, 124, f, 3, by Mr. Big
1st Dam: Palisadesprincess, by Indian Charlie
2nd Dam: Dixietwostepper, by More Than Ready
3rd Dam: Dixiechickadee, by Grindstone
1ST GRADE I WIN. ($22,000 Ylg '21 NCAAUG; $115,000 RNA 2yo '22 FTCAYR). O-Wonderland Racing Stables, LLC, Todd Cady, Tim Kasparoff and Ty Leatherman; B-Harris Farms, Inc. (CA); T-Doug F. O'Neill; J-Edwin A. Maldonado. $564,000. Lifetime Record: 7-6-0-1, $938,400. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Pretty Mischievous, 126, f, 3, by Into Mischief
1st Dam: Pretty City Dancer (GISW, $286,344), by Tapit
2nd Dam: Pretty City, by Carson City
3rd Dam: Pretty Special, by Riverman
O/B-Godolphin, LLC (KY); T-Brendan P. Walsh. $188,000.
3–Occult, 124, f, 3, by Into Mischief
1st Dam: Magical Feeling (GSW & GISP, $554,532), by Empire Maker
2nd Dam: Magical Mood (GB), by Forestry
3rd Dam: Good Mood, by Devil's Bag
($625,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP). O-Alpha Delta Stables, LLC; B-Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY); T-Chad C. Brown. $94,000.
Margins: HF, 1 1/4, 3HF. Odds: 3.30, 2.10, 3.30.
Also Ran: Hoosier Philly, Defining Purpose, Foggy Night, Just Katherine, Majestic Creed, Imonra. Click for the Equibase.com chart or the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuelTV.