Blamed May Lead Start to Finish in Ogden Phipps
Photos copyright Eclipse Sportswire
Courtesy of Ellis Starr of America's Best Racing
The Grade 1, $300,000 Ogden Phipps Stakes Saturday at Belmont Park – a “Win and You’re In” qualifying race for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff this fall – drew an extremely talented and well-matched group of six fillies and mares, each one a graded stakes winner. Leading the field in career earnings is She’s a Julie at just over $1 million, a lot of that coming when she won the Grade 1 La Troienne Stakes last May. However, She’s a Julie is winless in five races since and although she can improve off her most recent effort when sixth in the Shawnee Stakes following nearly eight months off, she will have to do just that in order to be a strong contender in this field.
The horse to beat on paper may be Ollie’s Candy, who has earned nearly three-quarters of a million dollars and is coming off a sparkling effort when defeated by a head in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap in April. Point of Honor was another two lengths back in third in the Apple Blossom but last year’s Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes winner may still be improving in her third start off a long layoff from August to March. Trainer Bill Mott saddles a pair in Blamed and Golden Award. Blamed enters the race off an easy win at Oaklawn Park, with her best accomplishment coming when winning the Grade 3 Royal Delta Stakes in February 2019. Golden Award won a pair of Grade 3 races in 2019, the Shuvee Stakes in July and the Turnback the Alarm Stakes in November, so she fits nicely here as well. Pink Sands rounds out the quality sextet, last seen winning the Grade 2 Inside Information Stakes in January for her sixth career victory.
Blamed has done little wrong in her 14-race career, winning nine times, including five in a row following a runner-up effort in her debut in the summer of 2017. Included in those wins was a pair of Kentucky Oaks prep races in the Island Fashion Stakes and Sunland Park Oaks. After missing the Kentucky Oaks and taking seven months off, Blamed moved to the barn of Bill Mott for the fall of her 3-year-old campaign and nearly picked up where she left off, finishing second in the 2018 Raven Run Stakes before winning the Comely Stakes. Since then, Blamed has won every other start including the Royal Delta Stakes and a pair of classified allowance races in February and April of this year. Most importantly, Blamed earned her last four wins leading from start to finish, two of those in one-turn races just like the Ogden Phipps. After wearing blinkers her entire career, Blamed took them off for her last race, on April 30, earning a strong 102 Equibase Speed Figure, just shy of the career best 106 figure earned in the Comely and the 104 figure earned in the Royal Delta. Having posted a strong half-mile workout at Belmont leading to this race and with the speed to have the early lead all to herself, I think Blamed can successfully play “come catch me” in this field.
Golden Award, the other Bill Mott trainee, appears to be the one most likely to catch Blamed if any horse can do just that. Golden Award has won five of 12 races in her career, finishing second in four others. She did not finish the race in the Personal Ensign Stakes in August of last year but both races prior to that and both races since then have been superb. Starting last May, Golden Award missed by a nose in the DuPont Distaff Stakes with a 104 figure, and then two months later won the Shuvee Stakes to earn a 100 figure. Following a two-month break after the Personal Ensign, Golden Award stalked the leader in third early before gamely winning the Turnback the Alarm Stakes with a career-best 109 figure. After another rest, she returned for her 5-year-old season in February and rallied for second in the Royal Delta Stakes, earning a 108 figure. She appears to be holding top form and comes back again off a layoff just like the one prior to the Turnback the Alarm – a race in which she was ridden by Junior Alvarado, who picks up the mount in the Ogden Phipps. Golden Award has a very strong shot to run well enough to win.
Pink Sands has won two graded stakes in a row, first the Rampart Stakes in December with a 97 figure, then the Inside Information Stakes in January with a 102 figure. In both starts, Pink Sands rallied strongly – from last of 10 and then from 11th of 12. Those were both one-turn races, so this one-turn mile and one-sixteenth trip in the Ogden Phipps should be no problem. Jose Ortiz was aboard for both wins and rides Saturday. Pink Sands is a horse who likes to come from far back so is likely to be last of the six in the early stages, but in this small field there is little concern about traffic trouble. Although Blamed may have an easy early lead, She’s a Julie, Ollie’s Candy and Golden Award all have tactical speed and could be pressing the pacesetter such that the pace may be faster than average. If that is the case, Pink Sands has potential to be rolling past the field in impressive fashion to win just as she did in her last two races.
Ollie’s Candy just missed in the Apple Blossom with a 100 figure after setting the pace from the start. In her last victory prior to that, the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes last July, she also earned a 100 figure so she appears just a bit slower compared to the top contenders here. Point of Honor has finished second or third in four races since she won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes last May, earning figures ranging from 94 to 97 which are not good enough to win if she repeats her best race and the other contenders do so as well. She’s a Julie had a strong campaign in the winter and spring of 2019 but since winning the La Troienne Stakes with a 105 figure last May she’s not finished better than third in five races, including her 2020 comeback race last month in which she ended up sixth, beaten 13 lengths.
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