How to Bet the Ogden Phipps Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

June 7th, 2018

On paper, the key to handicapping Saturday’s $750,000 Ogden Phipps Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park might be determining whether #6 Abel Tasman is ready to rebound from a sub-par showing in her most recent start.

Certainly Abel Tasman is by far the most accomplished filly in the Ogden Phipps field. Trained by Bob Baffert, the daughter of Quality Road won three Grade 1 races in 2017, including the one-mile Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park, and finished second in three other Grade 1 events to stamp herself as the clear-cut champion three-year-old filly of the season.

But when Abel Tasman returned from a layoff in the La Troienne Stakes (gr. I) at Churchill Downs last month, she failed to unleash her typical late rally and finished a dull fourth as the heavy favorite. Her disappointing run came as a surprise since she had posted a long series of sharp workouts leading up to the race and appeared to be ready for a big effort off the layoff.

Abel Tasman has continued to train well since then and might rebound in the Ogden Phipps, where the one-turn configuration of the 8.5-furlong distance could be to her benefit, but as the 8-5 morning line favorite I’m unwilling to trust her at a short price and will also consider #1 Unbridled Mo.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Unbridled Mo has been something of a winning machine through her career, crossing the wire first in seven of her ten races to date. But the four-time graded stakes winner raised her game to a new level when upsetting champion Unique Bella in the 8.5-furlong Apple Blossom Stakes (gr. I) in April, rallying past the heavy favorite to win by a decisive 2 ¼ lengths.

That race marked Unbridled Mo’s second start off a lengthy layoff, and I think she can match or improve on that run in the Ogden Phipps. She has enough tactical speed to work out a good trip while saving ground from her inside draw, and if Abel Tasman fails to fire her best shot, Unbridled Mo should be ready to take advantage.

Assuming that #5 American Gal scratches in favor of the Bed o’ Roses Stakes (gr. III) on Friday, then Unbridled Mo’s stablemate #2 Ivy Bell—runner-up in the seven-furlong Humana Distaff (gr. I) last month at Churchill Downs—looms as one of the main contenders to hit the board, along with the Chad Brown-trained #4 Pacific Wind, winner of the Ruffian Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont last time out.

Here’s how I would play the race:

$3 exacta: 1,6 with 1,6 ($6) $3 trifecta: 1,6 with 1,2,6 with 1,2,4,6 ($24)

Good luck!