A Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” contest for entry into the Distaff (G1), the Phipps is a challenging Grade 1 for this division. We have not had a “repeat” winner in this race since David Fawkes’ Take D' Tour in 2006 and 2007. Super trainer Todd Pletcher hasn’t won this race since 2011, which is rather surprising considering his HOF rise. Last year, it was Fausto Gutierrez’s Eclipse-winning older female, Letruska, that took home the prize. She had a magnificent year and looks to go back-to-back.
Now, let’s find out about this field…
#1 Letruska (Jky: J. Ortiz/Trn: F. Gutierrez):
The “Queen of the Track” makes her return to Belmont, taking the same road as last year at this time. She is just as sharp as last year, and make no mistake, she can win even against this classy crew. Trainer Fausto Gutierrez learned many lessons in ’21, and he is an expert when it comes to recalibration. The mare by Super Saver won the Royal Delta (G3) and backed that up with a repeat victory in the Apple Blossom (G1) at Oaklawn. How the pace scenario is going to play in this race is anyone’s guess. What we know is that Jose Ortiz probably needs the lead. If she can control it … this prize (BC berth) could be hers. All hail …
#2 Bonny South (Jky: F. Prat/Trn: B. Cox):
Here is a Brad Cox-trainee that has not won a race since Keeneland in ’21. The Juddmonte homebred has talent though, and maybe she has just run against some of the best in the division. That speaks to her class rating, and now, she gets a new pilot in Flavien Prat. Maybe he can do what Florent Geroux couldn’t this year. It is not all on the jockey, of course. However, sometimes a rider switch is just what is needed. We shall see how this mare by Munnings responds. It is going to take a big effort for sure.
#3 Malathaat (Jky: J. Velazquez/Trn: T. Pletcher):
All the powerful ownership groups seem to be assembled for this classy race. Shadwell Stable made a great move when they paired with Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings to breed this beautiful filly by Curlin. She won impressively last year in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), and even though she lost the CCA Oaks (G1), and was 3rd in the BC Distaff (G1), it was still an Eclipse Award-winning run. Trainer Todd Pletcher marked this race on the calendar, and I am sure he knew it would mean the chance to face a tough group. Her debut at Keeneland in the Doubledogdare (G3) went to plan, as John Velazquez asked the question at the top of the lane … she won, handily. Now, we are going to see what she is made of, and this is her chance to shine. I will not be picking her on top, but she deserves more than just placid respect.
#4 Clairiere (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: S. Asmussen):
Steve Asmussen works with Stonestreet Stables quite a bit, and their homebred (who is also by Curlin) was a close 2nd to her rival Letruska #1 in the Apple Blossom (G1) last time out. She made some noise last year on the KYOaks Trail, but clearly her best effort was in the Cotillion S. (G1) at Parx in September. Once again, she and Joel Rosario will form a team, and there is no doubt this makes the likelihood of an upset even more possible. With a work tab that is customarily conservative for this conditioner, it is hard to tell what she will do against this group. Her style is to come from off-the-pace, and we will see how she takes to a track that will have moisture. Her bow in the Mother Goose (G2) last year was a 3rd Place ending.
#5 Search Results (Jky: I. Ortiz/Trn: C. Brown):
Who could forget the thrilling duel in the ’21 KYOaks between this filly by Flatter, and Pletcher’s Malathaat #3? It was a race for the ages, and once again, the pair is going to oppose one another. Irad Ortiz tried to get past John Velazquez that afternoon, but the veteran got the best of him. Since then, this Chad Brown-trainee scored in the Acorn (G1) and most recently, in the Grade 2 Ruffian S at Belmont on 8 May. The track was muddy that day, and maybe that proves that she can handle different types of conditions? This is going to be a much tougher race, but Ortiz is ready to wear the red-lettered “KS” of Klaravich Stables once again. A player in this race to be sure …
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