by Ryan Martin/NYRA | 06.10.2020 | 4:30pm
Ollie’s Candy (inside) outlasted Secret Spice in the 2019 Clement Hirsch at Del Mar
A talented field of six graded stakes-winning fillies and mares have been assembled for the 52nd running of Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Ogden Phipps going a one-turn mile-and-a-sixteenth over the main track at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
The Ogden Phipps serves as a “Win and You’re In” event for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff on November 7 at Keeneland through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
The race honors the late Ogden Phipps, the legendary owner/breeder and New York native whose champions included Buckpasser, Easy Goer and the undefeated Personal Ensign. Mr. Phipps earned several Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Breeder and Owner and was posthumously awarded the Eclipse Award of Merit, the American horse racing industry’s highest honor.
Ollie’s Candy will be seeking a second Grade 1 triumph, shipping from southern California following a game second in her first start outside of the Golden State in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom on April 18 at Oaklawn Park. Owned by Paul Eggert and Karen Eggert and trained by John Sadler, the daughter of Candy Ride set the pace in the full field of 14 and battled gamely with fellow California-based Ce Ce in the final furlong to miss only a head. Her effort netted a career-best 98 Beyer Speed Figure.
Last summer, the battle-tested Ollie’s Candy defeated Grade 1-winners Secret Spice and Paradise Woods in the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar where she set a moderate tempo on the front end and gamely dug in down the stretch repelling a challenge from Secret Spice to win by a head. As a 3-year-old Ollie’s Candy made the grade in her debut at such caliber in Santa Anita’s Grade 2 Summertime Oaks in June 2018.
A Kentucky homebred, Ollie’s Candy has been second beaten a neck twice against graded stakes company on the grass as a 3-year-old, and is out of the Stroll mare Afternoon Stroll, who was a graded stakes winner on turf.
Jockey Joel Rosario, who piloted Close Hatches to victory in the 2014 Ogden Phipps, will retain the mount from post 5.
A week after saddling Vekoma to a sensational victory in the Grade 1 Runhappy Carter, trainer George Weaver will seek more Grade 1 glory at Belmont, sending out Point of Honor for Saturday’s race.
Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Stetson Racing, the 4-year-old Curlin filly was third in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom last out, where she came from 23 lengths off the pace in the full field of 14, made a sweeping six-wide move around the turn to only get beat 2 ¼ lengths.
“We hope for a better trip,” said Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ President Aron Wellman. “She got pinched at the back and lost all position. She was hung wide and had to weave her way through traffic and still ran very, very well in a highly-rated Apple Blossom. I was proud of the effort that day and I’m hoping for a better trip.”
Wellman, who described Point of Honor as a “bona fide two-turn horse”, believes his filly is still capable of winning going one turn. Last season, Point of Honor took home the Grade 2 Black Eye Susan at Pimlico before finishing second in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks and the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga.
“Obviously, we would prefer two turns but if there is a pace up front, we would feel better,” Wellman said. “The layout of the race could be to her benefit. There’s about an eternity from the start to the far turn and sometimes you get a quicker pace than you would otherwise. The race is at her home court, the timing is excellent, it’s an important and prestigious Grade 1 race at Belmont. We believe that she is a Grade 1 caliber filly, so to have a win in this race on her resume would be great.”
With the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic shaking up the national stakes calendar, Wellman is taking things one race at a time with Point of Honor and is just happy to be able to run this Saturday.
“We’re just grateful that the folks at NYRA and NYTHA have got racing back up and running in New York. It means a lot,” Wellman said. “This is an important race and we’re just happy to have a one-race schedule right now.”
Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano has the mount from post 2.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen sent out eventual Champion Older Filly Midnight Bisou to victory in last year’s race and seeks back-to-back wins when She’s a Julie targets a fifth graded stakes win from post 3.
The daughter of Elusive Quality is the lone millionaire in the six-horse field with a bankroll of $1,022,800. She will attempt to make amends following a sixth-place finish in her 2020 debut in the Shawnee at Churchill Downs, where a slow start prevented her from displaying her usual close-to-the-pace running style. The well-travelled She’s a Julie has won all four of her graded stakes victories over different tracks, which includes a triumph in last year’s Grade 1 La Troienne at Churchill Downs.
Bred in Kentucky by Godolphin, She’s a Julie is out of the Dubai Millennium broodmare Kydd Gloves and comes from the same family as Grade 1-winner Bodemeister.
She’s a Julie is owned by Bradley Thoroughbreds, Tim and Anna Cambron, Denali Stud, Rigney Racing and Madaket Stables and will be piloted by regular rider Ricardo Santana, Jr.
Gainesway Stable and Andrew Rosen’s Pink Sands will look to keep her top form rolling when racing off of a 4 ½-month layoff.
Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, the well-bred Tapit mare will attempt a third straight triumph in a graded stakes event after having captured the Grade 3 Rampart on December 14 and the Grade 2 Inside Information, both at Gulfstream Park.
McGaughey, who won the Phipps with Personal Ensign (1988), Fantastic Find (1990) and Heavenly Prize (1995) for the race’s late namesake, stated that Pink Sands’ layoff was not by design.
“Her last two races have been good,” McGaughey said. “The layoff is because we were going to run her at Keeneland in April and when they called off their meet, there really wasn’t anything else for her to run in.”
Bred in Kentucky by KatieRich Farms, Pink Sands is out of the Include broodmare Her Smile, who won Saratoga’s Grade 1 Prioress in 2014.
Jockey Jose Ortiz will be back aboard from post 1.
Rounding out the field are Blamed and Golden Award for Hall of Famer Bill Mott.
Sure to display a frontrunning style out of the gate, Cleber Massey’s Blamed makes her Belmont Park debut after scoring an optional claiming victory over stakes winner Motion Emotion on April 30 at Oaklawn Park going one mile. A two time graded stakes winner, Blamed won the Grade 3 Comely at Aqueduct and the Grade 3 Royal Delta at Gulfstream Park.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez seeks his fifth Ogden Phipps triumph aboard the 5-year-old Maryland-bred daughter of Blame from post 4.
Golden Award will be seeking a third graded stakes triumph. Owned by Jane Lyon’s Summer Wind Equine, the well-bred daughter of Medaglia d’Oro won the Grade 3 Shuvee at Saratoga and the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm at Aqueduct two starts back and arrives at the Ogden Phipps off a close second to Cookie Dough in the Grade 3 Royal Delta on February 15 at Gulfstream Park.
Bred in Kentucky by Harvey A. Clarke, Golden Award is a half-sister to 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another, who is out of the Arch broodmare Arch’s Gal Edith.
Junior Alvarado has piloted Golden Award to two of her five lifetime wins and returns to the saddle from post 6.
Slated as Race 9 on Sunday’s 10-race card, which offers a first post of 1:15 p.m. Eastern, the Ogden Phipps will feature on America’s Day at the Races, produced by NYRA in partnership with FOX Sports, and airing live on FOX Sports and MSG+. Free Equibase-provided past performances are available for races that are part of the America’s Day at the Races broadcast and can be accessed at https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.