Cotton also had another passion – horse racing. He loved to handicap the races, bet a buck or two and then smile brightly when his pick won. When the Suns were in town, Cotton found time to mix court practice with some time at Turf Paradise oval.
So it’s no surprise that his namesake race – now in its 11th running – (Cotton died in 2004) would attract good horses, lured as much by the $75,000 purse as by Cotton’s name on the marquee.
This year’s Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile attracted a field of 10. Three entrants hail from California, one from New Mexico and six are based locally.
The California Shippers
Heading the west coast contingent is the Neil Drysdale-trained Power Ped. The 5-year-old son of Powercourt, an accomplished turf specialist, recently finished third in the G2 San Gabriel.
Completing the California shippers is the Richard Mandella-trained Trend and the Carl O’Callaghan conditioned Number Five, who’s already won over the local green on December 14.
The local turfers are not outclassed by the trio from California. The Robertino Diodoro-trained Storm Power is seeking his fourth consecutive local stakes win. Twelve Tribes, also trained by Diodoro, is looking for his fifth straight win and is a perfect two-for-two over the turf. Az Ridge, winner of 10 of 34 efforts on grass and dirt, always puts forth his best effort.
From New Mexico
The question mark with the Land of Enchantment shipper, Smack Ridge, is, can he handle the turf? The 7-year-old speedster has won 10 of 32 efforts on dirt by employing a catch me if you can strategy.
The $35,000 Glendale Handicap
Although the co-featured Glendale Handicap, run at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, will have only a field of seven, the stakes attracted the best fillies are mares on the grounds. There are no throw outs in this race.
Last year’s Glendale winner, Ricspretentiousgal, looks to repeat. Lady Rosberg, winner of the Queen of the Green, is in top form. Rock and Glory, who has finished second three times and third once in four stakes efforts, is looking to notch her first stakes victory. And She’s Stella Marie, coming off a recent allowance turf win, looks to upend her stablemate, Ricspretentiousgal.