The Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes has been historically one of the most important races for older females on the dirt during the first half of the year with each of the last three editions won by champions or fillies who would go on to win an Eclipse Award.
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Previously called the Hempstead Handicap, the race was renamed in 2002 to honor Ogden Phipps, the former chairman of The Jockey Club as well as a philanthropist, sportsman, and Thoroughbred owner-breeder.
This year’s race drew a field of six elite older mares looking to follow in the footsteps of superstars like Personal Ensign, Serena’s Song, Ashado and more recently Songbird, Abel Tasman, and Midnight Bisou. The Phipps is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff, offering the winner an expenses-paid berth in the $2 million race Nov. 7 at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.
Read on for more information on this year’s entrants for the $300,000 Ogden Phipps Stakes June 13 at Belmont Park.
1. Pink Sands (6-1 morning-line odds): She enters the race off back-to-back graded stakes wins for her Hall of Fame trainer, most recently closing from far off the pace to win the Grade 2 Inside Information Stakes in January. Past performances indicate Belmont Park might not be her favorite track as her speed figures are below par there and she has yet to win in five races at Belmont with a pair of seconds and three thirds. Looking elsewhere for the win, but Pink Sands could certainly rally for a top-three finish.
2. Point of Honor (2-1): Last year’s Black-Eyed Susan Stakes winner is very consistent with three wins and three seconds in eight career starts, but her Equibase Speed Figures indicate she would need to improve to be a win contender. She came from way out of it in her most recent race when closing from last of 14 to finish third in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom, 2 ¼ lengths behind fellow Ogden Phipps entrant Ollie’s Candy. Would not be surprised to see her take a big step forward here.
3. She's a Julie (8-1): This time a year ago, she looked like a contender for champion older dirt female after starting 2019 with a Grade 3 win and a Grade 1 win, but She’s a Julie is winless in five starts since then. She was a well-beaten fourth in her final start of 2019 and was beaten by 13 ¼ lengths in her first start of 2020. Talent is there, but tough to endorse based upon recent form. Should be a pace factor along with Blamed and Ollie’s Candy.
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4. Blamed (10-1): Blamed has won four of her last seven races and was beaten by 10 or more lengths in the other three. If you like her chances, play her on top; if you are skeptical of her chances, toss her. I think she might be a cut below the best of this division, so I fall into the latter category.
5. Ollie's Candy (8-5): I thought she ran an exceptional race in defeat when second by a head to Ce Ce in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at this distance and she has a Grade 1 win at 1 1/16 miles. I think she has the highest natural cruising speed in the field and the versatility to set the pace, press, or stalk. I’d be shocked if she doesn’t run a big race here. The pick.
6. Golden Award (7-2): I view her as a serious threat to my top choice, Ollie’s Candy, as she should sit a perfect trip just behind the early speed and have every opportunity to win the Phipps in the stretch. Looked strong in her only start in 2020 for Hall of Fame trainer, finishing second to Cookie Dough on a sloppy track in the Grade 3 Royal Delta Stakes Feb. 15 at Gulfstream Park.
THE PICK: Ollie's Candy
LIVE LONGSHOT: Pink Sands