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Top Fillies take up Grade 1 Quest in Ogden Phipps

ELMONT, N.Y. –The Belmont Stakes, won last Saturday by Summer Bird, represents the end of the Triple Crown trail and the three-year-olds’ stranglehold on media attention. Horses in other division are just now getting started on their campaigns, and Saturday afternoon, Belmont Park fans will be treated to a star-studded field when seven fillies and mares go to post in the 41st running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth.

The Ogden Phipps will be race 4 (2:36 p.m.) on a 10-race card that begins at 1 p.m. There will again be a $350,000 guaranteed late Pick 4 on races 7-10. And as the New York Yankees are hosting their cross-town rival New York Mets in the middle leg of a three-game weekend series that begins at 4:10 p.m., Belmont Park fans sporting the colors of their favorite teams will be admitted free. The major league baseball game will be available on select televisions on the second-floor grandstand near the clubhouse exchange; the third floor of the clubhouse, and in the backyard near the Festival Tent.

Rick Mettee, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor, has entered Godolphin Stable’s Music Note and Darley Stable’s Seventh Street in the Ogden Phipps, hoping that the two fresh horses will bring their A-game to the main track.

Music Note, a daughter of 1992 Horse of the Year and Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy, won the Mother Goose, Coaching Club American Oaks and Gazelle here as a three-year-old last year, and just missed winning her fourth Grade 1 of the year when she was beaten a head by Proud Spell in Saratoga’s prestigious Alabama.

After her emphatic 8½-length victory in the Gazelle, Music Note went to Santa Anita, where she ran third to champion Zenyatta in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.

“It was a good race for her, but the gray filly (Zenyatta) blew right by her,” Mettee said. “It was her first start on a synthetic surface, and she was only beaten three lengths, so she was hardly embarrassed. She spent the winter at Keeneland. We wanted to bring her back here before, but with all the rain, we kept her there. We had pointed her for the Shuvee (May 16), but again the weather didn’t cooperate with her training.

“Saeed knew this would be a tough spot to come back in, but at the same time, this is her favorite track (4-for-5) and the mile and a sixteenth should be just right to get her started.”

Jockey Javier Castellano has the mount on Music Note, who breezed a half-mile in 48.24 on Monday morning on the fast main track. Music Note will carry top weight of 122 pounds and will break from post 6.

Darley Stable’s Seventh Street has won four of six career starts. Previously trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, the Street Cry filly makes her debut on Saturday for bin Suroor.

“She won the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park pretty easily going wire to wire,” Mettee said. “Back in February, she ran second in the Barbara Fritchie at Laurel, but she dwelt at the start; in fact, she reared up and lost all chance. But she came back with a run. She has a lot of class.”

Rajiv Maragh has the mount on Seventh Street in the Ogden Phipps. On Monday, Seventh Street breezed a half-mile in a bullet 47.24, the fastest of 107 works at the distance. She will carry 119 pounds and will break from post 3.

Music Note and Seventh Street will be joined as a three-horse entry by Darley Stable’s Sea Chanter. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 4-year-old War Chant filly finished third in the Grade 2, one-mile Shuvee here on May 16, behind fellow Phipps runners Seattle Smooth and Color Me Up. She gets in with 114 pounds and jockey John Velazquez, and will break from post 7.

Even the presence of two quality runners like Music Note and Seventh Street has not shaken trainer Anthony Dutrow’s confidence in Seattle Smooth. She began her career on the West Coast with trainer Julio Canani, but after running third in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico and a failed try on grass, owner Mercedes Stables decided she might be more suited to the Eastern dirt tracks.

Seattle Smooth proved her connections were right, as she rattled off four straight victories in Delaware Park’s Go for Wand, Philadelphia Park’s Grade 2 Fitz Dixon Cotillion Stakes – where she beat Proud Spell -- and this year, Grade 2 wins in Aqueduct’s Bed o’Roses and Belmont Park’s Shuvee.

“She’s taken the NYRA (New York Racing Association) path to the Ogden Phipps, and hopefully, we’ll get her a Grade 1 on Saturday,” Dutrow said. “So far, she shown that pace has not really been a factor in her races. She can put herself where she needs to be, and I don’t think a small field is necessarily a disadvantage to her.

“We have her races well spaced, and if we can do well on Saturday, we’re looking to move onward to Saratoga.”

Jockey Ramon Dominguez will ride Seattle Smooth, a 4-year-old Quiet American filly, who will carry 121 pounds. She has drawn post 2.

Akindale Farm’s My Dinah has drawn the rail under jockey Jose Espinoza at 113 pounds. The daughter of 1998 Belmont Stakes winner Victory Gallop has won three of her last four starts, but the New York-bred takes a big step up in class. The same can be said for Nicksappealinglady, a recent optional/claimer winner at a mile on May 29.


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