The 2021 edition of the Grade 1, $500,000 Ogden Phipps Stakes for fillies and mares is absolutely loaded with talent. Four of the seven entrants are Grade 1 winners, and there is a good mix of speed, stalkers and patient types.
Letruska and Shedaresthedevil are the two most likely runners to set the pace, and riding tactics will be vital in determining the final outcome. Before deciding how to bet Saturday’s seventh race at Belmont Park, let’s meet the participants.
No. 3 Letruska (9-5) sure has a nose for the wire, and her early speed makes her doubly tough. She has never been better and is a head away from a perfect 5-for-5 record at this distance. She proved in the Azeri Stakes (G2) that she can run a quality race from a stalking position, and that early-pressing versatility is a dangerous commodity in a race such as this.
Value win contender
No. 2 Valiance (4-1) kept improving last year for Todd Pletcher. The stalking type won the Eatontown Stakes in the slop at Monmouth Park, and jumped up and upset the applecart in the Spinster (G1) at Keeneland last fall. She proved that effort was no fluke when she rallied for the place from an outer post in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). She shows a couple of local training track bullets for this and is probably ready to roll off the bench.
Live long shot
No. 7 Bonny South (10-1) is a patient type with a 4-for-5 record at 1 1/16 miles. She can make noise if the pace heats up, but the quality speed types might keep on going. Joel Rosario hops aboard the two-time graded stakes winner, and she might be able to spice up the exotics.
I was concerned at the start of her current campaign that No. 1 Swiss Skydiver (5-2) might regress as a 4-year-old just like Rachel Alexandra did, and that certainly seems to be the case. They both had ambitious, grueling and very successful sophomore seasons, and a great deal of traveling while meeting top competition in every start will eventually take its toll. Ken McPeek’s talented filly ended 2020 with an up-the-track finish in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She did win the Beholder Mile (G1) at Santa Anita on March 13, but she sat a dream trip against a suspect group and the speed rating she earned that day was a big drop from her strong sophomore numbers in races such as the Alabama (G1) and Preakness (G1). She regressed even more in a distant show finish in the Apple Blossom (G1) April 17, and this race did not come up easy, to say the least. She appears to be training forwardly for this and needs to rediscover her very best form to threaten these.
No. 4 Queen Nekia (30-1) captured the Royal Delta (G3) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 20. The late-running mare is probably outclassed in this spot.
No. 5 Shedaresthedevil (5-2) is on a roll for Brad Cox. She captured six of her last eight starts, and the early-pressing type excels at this distance. She is a two-time Grade 1 winner and could easily topple this group.
No. 6 Water White (30-1) exits an OK runner-up finish in the Ruffian (G2), and that was the best effort of her career. Her tactical speed usually leads to a good trip, but the one-turn mile specialist is probably in over her head this time.
No. 2 to win
|Rank||Silks||Horse / Sire||Rating||Trainer / Jockey||Last Start||Status|
I. Ortiz, Jr.