Head to Head: Handicapping the 2021 Ogden Phipps

Head to Head: Handicapping the 2021 Ogden Phipps
Photo: Ted McClenning/ Eclipse Sports Wire

The prestigious Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) on the Belmont Stakes undercard attracted the best older fillies and mares in training in what will surely be just one of many previews for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Unfortunately for fans, champion Monomoy Girl is currently on vacation while it is a bit early for 2021 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Malathaat to face her elders. Carded as the seventh race, the Ogden Phipps attracted a field of seven, however just five will line up to contest the 1 1/16-mile affair after Todd Pletcher declared Valiance out of the race due to a fever on Thursday and trainer Ken McPeek did likewise with champion Swiss Skydiver on Friday.

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While the field is depleted, there will be no easy answers as to who will come away the winner. Letruska won in her last outing, while Shedaresthedevil won the La Troienne (G1) in her most recent race. So which fine filly will it be? Laurie Ross of Pedigree Power and Ashley Tamulonis of Coast To Coast offer up their decisions as to who will win and who will have to settle for a minor award.





After a victory in the Beholder Mile (G1) to kick off the year, Swiss Skydiver finished third to Letruska and Monomoy Girl in the Apple Blossom (G1). However, Swiss Skydiver had the worst trip. The youngster was boxed in on the rail by Letruska in front and Monomoy Girl to her outside.  Swiss Skydiver was clearly uncomfortable.  Robby Albarado pushed   Swiss Skydiver through an opening on the rail, but it was too late as champion Monomoy Girl and Letruska moved on and duked it out in an exciting finish. Jose Ortiz takes over the reins. Swiss Skydiver has tactical speed.



Last year Swiss Skydiver was a throwback to the good ol’ days. She danced every dance, bringing her best race day effort even when she lost, Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) aside. She went 2: 1-1-0 against the boys, dropping the Blue Grass (G2) but defeating Kentucky Derby (G1) winner and two time Eclipse Award champion Authentic in a thrilling stretch duel in the Preakness (G1). As Laurie pointed out, the gutsy filly began 2021 with a bang but had a terrible trip in the Apple Blossom (G1). I can guarantee that Jose Ortiz does not make the same mistake Robby Albarado made in letting her get boxed in.






Letruska has really matured as a 5-year-old. She’s won two of three starts; the only mar was a nose loss to Shedaresthedevil in the Azeri Stakes. The Fausto Gutierrez trainee does her best work when left alone on the lead.


Letruska had things all her own way in the Apple Blossom (G1), was headed in the stretch by Monomoy Girl, and battled back bravely to take the nose decision. She does indeed do her best work loose on the lead, but I doubt Shedaresthedevil and Florent Geroux will allow that.


Queen Nekia is the weak link in the Ogden Phipps Stakes. She finishes out of the money more often than not against lesser company. ‘nuff said.


Queen Nekia sprang the upset in the Royal Delta (G3) in her seasonal bow, a career best for the 6-year old mare. Aside from that, she is typically beaten by weaker than she will face here. Pass.


Shedaresthedevil gets a third re-match with nemesis Swiss Skydiver. Interesting note that both fillies are the same age, by Daredevil, and have similar running styles. Each filly prevailed in their two match-ups. Swiss Skydiver won the Fantasy Stakes, but  Shedaresthedevil turned the tables in the Kentucky Oaks. Shedaresthedevil is a pacesetter but can sit farther back if asked.


Shedaresthedevil is undefeated in two starts in 2021 and owns wins over both Swiss Skydiver and Letruska. While she can effectively sit off the pace, she is at her best when she is setting or closely pressing the pace. I suspect that is the strategy Florent Geroux will employ, particularly to keep Letruska honest up front.


Water White earned a career-best speed figure of 95 in her last start, the Ruffian Stakes, even though she was bested 1 3/4-lengths. She does her best work at Aqueduct against lesser company; her Belmont record is two seconds and a third in three starts. She’s worth a look for an underneath play.

While Water White is a consistent runner for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, she is certainly nowhere near the class of the Big 3 in this race, especially considering the drumming Gamine gave her in last year’s Acorn (G1). A minor award is the best she can hope for.



Bonny South began her 4-year-old campaign with a victory in the Doubledogdare Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. She’s won or placed in seven of nine starts, mostly in Grade 2 and Grade 3 competition. The Brad Cox trainee bested stablemate Shedaresthedevil early in their careers and was second, beaten 2 3/4-lengths by Swiss Skydiver in the Alabama Stakes (G1). Bonny South will make her move from off the pace, and she could be overlooked.


If you’re looking for a live longshot, look no further than Bonny South. As Laurie mentioned, she beat Shedaresthedevil early on in her career and was second behind easy winner Swiss Skydiver in last year’s Alabama (G1). If the Big 3 wear each other out up front, Bonny South is the logical choice to run past one or more of the top choices.

Final thoughts

Surprisingly, only three favorites in the last decade have won the Ogden Phipps Stakes.

Letruska will take her customary position on the lead, pressed by Shedaresthedevil. Water White, Bonny South, and Queen Nekia will chase. Jose Ortiz must keep Swiss Skydiver happy on the rail unless he can tip her outside. His brother aboard Letruska may have something to say about that. Shedaresthedevil should get a perfect stalking trip from post 5.

This is a conundrum, as any one of these talented fillies could win it. I’ll go with Shedaresthedevil on the outside. She figures to get the best trip.

Ashley: Personally, I think Jose Ortiz tips Swiss Skydiver off the rail as quickly as possible now that it’s public knowledge that the champion filly is uncomfortable being covered up. I do think Letruska and Shedaresthedevil will share the lead. Since the Ogden Phipps is only 1 1/16-mile, even if the pace is hot, class should prevail unless one of the others runs a career best race.

This is tough. The big three have traded blows and any of them could win on any given day. For me, my heart belongs to Swiss Skydiver, and I trust that Jose Ortiz will give her a good ride.






#3 LETRUSKA (9-5)



#3 LETRUSKA (9-5)

#6 WATER WHITE (30-1)

#7 BONNY SOUTH (10-1)


Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, which led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation covering racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues and, from time to time, offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry. A move North to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the From Coast to Coast blog for HRN. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband, Chris, and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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