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Around the Oval with Melaina Phipps

And the Next F & M Turf Contender is...

Super Saturday is here and now that it's post-time on the East Coast, thousands of fans are waiting anxiously to see if their favorite horses meet the Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" challenge. One of my favorite BC races is the Filly and Mare Turf. Today's Flower Bowl Invitational (GI) at Belmont another name to the program for that race.
Who do I think will rise to the Breeders' Cup Challenge on the turf today in the Flower Bowl to win entry in next month's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf race? With so many accomplished competitors in the field, it’s a tough choice for me. Here’s what the fields look like:
The Flower Bowl Invitational G1 / $600,000
1 ¼ Miles / Fillies & Mares / 3yo and Up
BELMONT / Race 8 / Post 3:38 pm
Dream Peace (IRE) 
ML: 5-2
J. Leparoux 
119 Lbs
C. Brown
ML: 20-1
J. Lezcano 
119 Lbs
D. Donk
Hit It Rich 
ML: 8-1
J. Castellano 
119 Lbs
C. McGaughey III
I'm A Dreamer (IRE) 
ML: 3-1
H. Turner 
123 Lbs
D. Simcock
ML: 15-1
M. Smith 
119 Lbs
W. I. Mott
Bizzy Caroline 
ML: 20-1
D. Cohen 
119 Lbs
K. McPeek
Zagora (FR) 
ML: 7-2
R. Dominguez 
121 Lbs
C. Brown
Nahrain (GB) 
ML: 5-1
J. Velazquez 
121 Lbs
R. Varian
Halo Dolly 
ML: 12-1
J. Rosario 
121 Lbs
J. Hollendorfer
I’ve just needed to adjust my picks as I’ve been informed of Starformer’s scratch… So…here are my top three picks for the race. Looking at the field of now eight contenders, I’m selecting a boxed trio of morning line long shot, New York–bred Hessonite, Hit it Rich, and Irish import, I’m a Dreamer.
The way I see it, today’s yielding Inner Turf course at Belmont will make Hessonite feel right at home. Having won a total of four times on the inner turf (twice at Belmont and twice at Saratoga), she seems to be comfortable on the tighter inside course. Additionally, of those four wins, three of them were achieved on yielding turf such as she will encounter today. While this is change of company, I like a long shot.  
McGaughey-trained Hit it Rich is similarly experienced at Belmont, but seems to prefer a firmer turf. Jockey Javier Castellano, who has been her mount all year, will be in the irons again and they haven’t finished out of the money yet. Together they have made it to the winner’s circle together twice, and although those wins have come at slightly longer distances, I think we can expect a similar effort from the pair again today.
Third in my top three is the Irish mare, I’m a Dreamer. Not surprisingly, I like a European horse on the turf. And while I also like British entry Nahrain, her second place finish in last year's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs was her last U.S. start. Conversely, I'm a Dreamer, who has finished in the money in three of her last four starts, most recently she comes into the Flower Bowl off her win in the Beverly D. this summer at Arlington Park. While she might not like the tighter turns she’ll experience today, I like her for my top three.
You can wish me luck on my picks, but when it comes to the horses I’ve taken to wishing them all “Safe Travels” instead!
Who do you like in today’s Flower Bowl? Chime in! I’ll be tweeting throughout this Super Saturday @memephipps and I’ll be back to post later today about the other Filly & Mare Turf BC Challenge race happening on the West Coast—the Rodeo Drive Stakes at Santa Anita.


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Older Comments about And the Next F & M Turf Contender is......

Well . . . .thank goodness I'm NOT a handicapper--though there WAS that inquiry over Hessonite and I'm a Dreamer did finish a close 4th... In any case I'm happy to have Nahrain back in this year's Breeders Cup!

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Meet Melaina Phipps

I came to horseracing only about a decade ago. (And no, I am no relation to the celebrated racing family of the same name.) My equine interests prior to that began, as they do for most young girls, with riding lessons and horse shows, and ended up with me playing polo while a graduate student at UVA and thereafter. It was entirely unexpected that I should spend time on the backstretch at Saratoga in the summer and on the rail at Payson Park in Florida in the winter watching some of the best trainers and horses in the country work. But that’s where I found myself and where my interest in this wild ride of an industry took shape. I don’t exercise racehorses; I don’t work with a trainer.  I watch, I listen, I ask a lot of questions, and I learn.  I enjoy supporting equine charities. Sometimes I bet a little.

I leave the handicapping and serious race talk and examination to those more knowledgeable than I. What I’d like to share through Around the Oval are some of the myriad observations, stories, histories, events, charities, places, and personalities that make up the variegated landscape of the Thoroughbred racing industry. If you find any—or all—of it interesting, please leave comments. Have any particular interests you’d like to read about? Send word—suggestions are more than welcome! 

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