Three Top Fillies to Battle in The Grade I Ogden Phipps at Belmont

Three Top Fillies to Battle in The Grade I Ogden Phipps at Belmont

Category : News - Fri 06/06/2014 - 10:03 EDT

In what is perhaps the best rivalry in American horse racing, three champion fillies from 2013 will go to the gate together in one of the featured undercard races for the Belmont Stakes.

Almost overlooked amid the excitement of California Chrome’s bid for the Triple Crown on Saturday in the Belmont Stakes is the fact the afternoon will feature a great undercard of racing, with nine graded-stakes races, six of those of the Grade I variety. Outside of the Belmont, perhaps the most highly-anticipated race of the day will be the $1 million Grade I Ogden Phipps Stakes for fillies and mares aged four years and up going 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. The race features a rematch between Beholder and Close Hatches, the 1-2 finishers in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Breeders' Cup champ Beholder riding a winning streak

As the 7-5 morning line favorite, Beholder comes in to the race off an easy 5 1/4 length win in the Santa Lucia Stakes at Santa Anita six weeks ago, her season bow following a long layoff after the Breeders’ Cup. In taking the Santa Lucia, Beholder racked up her fourth straight win after running a close second in the 2013 Kentucky Oaks last May. A Kentucky-bred daughter of Henny Hughes, Beholder finished fourth in her first career start back in 2012, but since then has been no worse than second in 13 career races, with nine wins, five in Grade I events.

Two others have impressive career stats as well

Equally impressive is the record of Close Hatches (5-2), whose only real career blemish is a puzzling seventh-place finish in the 2013 Oaks. Otherwise, she came to the track as a three-year-old last season and promptly ran off three straight wins, and has seven wins in 10 starts, with three of those in Grade I events. Most recently she took the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn in April. Also in the field and listed as the 9-5 second choice is Princess of Sylmar, the 2013 Oaks winner, who ran a disappointing sixth in the BC Distaff, but who has already scored a win this year in the Cat Cay Stakes at Aqueduct .

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