Cotillion: Lighter Routine Has Street Band Ready For ‘Best Filly And Mare Race Of The Year’

Larry Jones and Street Band put some mileage in during Wednesday’s trip from Churchill Downs to Parx Racing for the $1 million Cotillion Stakes – roughly 700 to be somewhat precise – and the veteran Kentucky trainer hopes a lighter training regime for the Istan filly produces a result in Saturday’s Grade 1 co-feature.

“We know we’re fit,” Jones said. “We’re probably looking at a lack of miles though from the last race to her, but by design. We haven’t trained her as hard.

“She still comes in with only two works. We’re finding out that we don’t need to work her every week. We’ll work her one week, skip the next and she doesn’t seem to get as rank on us that way. And that’s the way Sophie (Doyle) is liking her.”

Doyle, who will ride the 8-1 fifth choice in the field of 11 3-year-old fillies, breezed Street Band 5 furlongs in 1:00.60 Monday at Churchill. She also worked her 12 days before in the identical time in Street Band’s only other work between the Cotillion and her third-place finish in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Alabama Aug. 17.

“The work (Monday) wasn’t as quick as how we worked for the Alabama, but she told me she did it better, she started off so relaxed,” Jones said.

“Sophie said, ‘once I squeezed on her at about the three-sixteenths pole, she came home.’ She galloped out in 13 and 2. Sophie said she thought it was a better work than before.”

Street Band shipped to Parx Wednesday, walked the shedrow Thursday and took her first trip around the main track Friday after the break. Under Jones and decked out in her usual draw reins and blinkers, Street Band made about a quarter-mile walk on the horse path along the backstretch before going on the track near the half-mile pole gap. She galloped around the far turn, through the lane and pulled up approaching the backstretch.

Jones walked her to the starting gate, arriving to a short schooling session at the same time as fellow Cotillion entrant and Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress. Jones originally planned to give Street Band a look at the paddock near the entrance to the first turn just past the finish, but changed plans when he got a look at the scene galloping the filly through the lane.

“The rail was up and I didn’t want to jump it,” he said. “That was OK. She was good out there and good at the gate. She didn’t want to walk back there at first but she followed Serengeti Empress. She said, ‘I’m used to following her anyway.’ I did let the gate crew know her and that if she’s a little apprehensive that it’s just her.”

The Cotillion, a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, attracted a field that also includes last year’s champion 2-year-old filly Jaywalk, unbeaten two-time Grade 1 winner Guarana and three-time Grade 1 winner Bellafina.

“It’s the best filly and mare race of the year,” Jones said. “These are some of the best ones out of the Kentucky Oaks. And Chad Brown’s horse (Guarana) didn’t run in the Oaks yet here she is and she’s the favorite. It’s a tough spot. We have to hope everything goes well and she gets the trip.”

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