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Unrivaled Belle Tops Ogden Phipps

Unrivaled Belle has yet to post a Grade 1 win to her otherwise excellent resume, but she does own a credential that few other fillies possess – a victory over the reigning Horse of the Year.

 

In April, the 4-year-old daughter of Unbridled’s Song got up in the final yards to head Rachel Alexandra in the Grade 2 La Troienne at Churchill Downs, her second straight graded stakes win. Saturday at Belmont Park, Unrivaled Belle will look to fill in the missing piece when she faces four other fillies and mares in the 42nd running of the Grade 1, $250,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap at 1 1/16th miles.

 

“I think the race she ran last time was as competitive as a Grade 1, taking on last year’s champion,” said Unrivaled Belle’s Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who filled in a blank spot on his own resume last week when he saddled Drosselmeyer to win the Belmont Stakes. “And having beaten Rachel Alexandra, I would say she definitely belongs there.”

 

Owned by Peter Vegso, Unrivaled Belle came to New York last year on the heels of her maiden win and took an allowance at Belmont Park in October, ran off to a nearly seven-length score in an overnight stakes three weeks later and finally wrapped up her 3-year-old season by finishing second to Flashing in the Grade 1 Gazelle at Aqueduct Racetrack on November 28.

 

After kicking off her 2010 campaign with a fourth in the Grade 2 La Canada over an artificial surface at Santa Anita, Unrivaled Belle next took the Grade 3 Rampart at Gulfstream Park in March prior to her victory over Rachel.

 

Kent Desormeaux rides Unrivaled Belle, the 119-pound highweight, from post position 3 as the even-money favorite.

 

Putting a four-race winning streak on the line against Unrivaled Belle will be the Todd Pletcher-trained Life At Ten, a 5-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon whose first foray into graded stakes company produced a one-length victory in the Grade 3 Sixty Sails at Hawthorne on April 17.

 

Off the board just once in 12 starts – she was seventh over a yielding turf course at Belmont Park last fall in her lone start on grass – Life At Ten has five wins, five seconds and one third to her credit. In six starts on conventional dirt, she is 4-2-0.

 

“We’ve always thought she was a good filly,” said Jonathan Thomas, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. “She’s put together some nice races.”

 

Life At Ten’s streak began last fall at Aqueduct, when she rallied from last to score a half-length win in a six-furlong allowance race. She followed that with a 1¾-length victory in the overnight Snit on the Big A’s inner track last December, and then posted a 5¼-length victory in the Rare Treat, also over the inner track, to start her 2010 campaign.

 

“She’s been very consistent,” said Thomas.


John Velazquez rides the 3-1 choice, who carries 116 pounds, from post position 2.

 

The lone Grade 1 winner in the field is Mrs. C. Wilson McNeely, III’s Funny Moon, who took the 2009 Coaching Club American Oaks by a neck over Don’t Forget Gil. The 4-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon has started twice this year, finishing a well-backed second in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare over Keeneland’s artificial surface, and then taking the Grade 2 Shuvee at Belmont Park on May 15.

 

Alan Garcia has the mount on Funny Moon, 5-2 on the morning line, under 117 pounds from the rail.

 

December Hill Farm’s Pumpkin Shell, third behind Life At Ten and Starship Angel in the Rare Treat, takes a big step up in class in the Ogden Phipps. Second in the Affectionately in her 4-year-old debut, she was eighth in her most recent start, the Grade 3 Beaugay on the turf.

 

“I’m taking a shot in a short field to be placing in a Grade 1,” said trainer David Donk of Pumpkin Shell, ridden from post position 4 by Hall of Famer Edgar Prado. “I’ll need a pace up front, but she’s doing pretty well and her last two breezes have been very good.”

 

Pumpkin Shell, 15-1 on the morning line, last breezed three furlongs in 36.45 over Belmont’s training track on June 7.

 

Completing the field is Richlyn Farm’s Manitoba Miss, a Canadian-bred daughter of D’wildcat who was third in an optional claimer at Calder in her most recent start.

 

Rajiv Maragh rides Manitoba Miss, 15-1, from post position 5.

 

Both Pumpkin Shell and Manitoba Miss carry 112 pounds.

 

The field for the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps:

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

Funny Moon (KY)

A Garcia

117

C Clement

5-2

2

Life At Ten (KY)

J R Velazquez

116

T A Pletcher

3-1

3

Unrivaled Belle (KY)

K J Desormeaux

119

W I Mott

Even

4

Pumpkin Shell (KY)

E S Prado

112

D G Donk

15-1

5

Manitoba Miss (ON)

R Maragh

112

G Weaver

15-1

 

 

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