The Phipps Stakes (Grade 1)- $750.000 Purse
BEL- For Fillies And Mares Four Years Old and Upward
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Dirt
June 9, 2018
Many of the top horses in virtual racing have made their way to BEL this weekend, and that includes the older female division as the 13th running of the Grade 1 Phipps Stakes takes place. It is a race that has seen many great winners in the past, including last years winner, Notarized Kate. She was recently retired following a disappointing run last month, and I want to congratulate Pristine Stables on a great job with her. In this race, there will be a field of nine, and five of them ran in the BC Distaff last year, and they took five of the top six finishing spots in that race. A sixth horse ran in the BC Fillies and Mares Turf last year, so the strength of this field is impressive and definitely an exciting part of the undercard for the BEL. Enjoy the race! Here are the runners!
#1- The Reaper (John Henry, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- Makes her 32nd career start, and it’s the second time that she has attempted the Phipps. Last year, she was 6th, so a better performance would be appreciated by the trainer this time. Not too long after that race, we started to see a drop down in terms of where she was placed, but that changed in her last start, when she was brought to the Apple Blossom (Grade 1), and she placed second. We’ll see if she can build on that here. Never count out anything named The Reaper.
#2- Whispering Nurse (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- This filly did not do much whispering, and in fact spoke very loudly last year in terms of her starts, winning five out of ten, and never failing to hit the board. That was with a steady dose of Grade 1’s, and wins include the Cotillion and the CCA Oaks. That momentum sent her to the BC Distaff, and she was just narrowly beaten there, placing second to Viking Vania. She’ll be about as close to her in the starting gate here as she was then. There has been no letdown this year, and she comes off a win in the Grade 1 La Troienne. Naturally, she is a top threat here but this is field is stacked.
#3- Viking Vania (Delta Farms, ridden by F Pennington)- The greatest virtual jockey going, F Pennington, is in the saddle of the reigning BC Distaff champion, Viking Vania. Her numbers last year were very close to Whispering Nurse, overall. She won five of nine, and was part of the exacta in all of those starts. After winning the BC Distaff, she started off the year by winning the Grade 3 HOU Ladies Classic, but has run into off tracks in her last two starts, and that may have kept her from showing her best form. Perhaps the jockey change to F Pennington, from regular jockey R J Albarado, will be the difference in getting her back in the winners circle.
#4- Wicked Heat (Mb Stables, ridden by R Bejarano)- The trainer shelled out $600.000 to acquire the 2016 BC Distaff winner from EasyMoney Stables, and is hoping that she has more great races in store. They have only one race so far, and it was in an open allowance. They can be tricky sometimes, but that was not one of the stronger ones that you will see at SA. Her last noteworthy win came in September, in the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive, part of a brief attempt to try her out on the grass. She was pretty good there, actually, and did run in the BC Fillies and Mares Turf. It’s been back to the main track.
#5- Shake It Off (Smokey Stover, ridden by R J Albarado)- Albarado, having lost the mount on Viking Vania to the great F Pennington, will be able to get over that just fine as he rides Shake It Off, a winner of seven of 21, and is one of six in the field with at least $2,000.000 in career earnings. Smokey Stover acquired her in the middle of November last year from Our Athletes for $350.000, about a week after finishing 3rd in the BC Distaff, and he has done a great job with her. In her new silks, she is two for three, winning both the Santa Maria and the Santa Margerita at Santa Anita. Nice tongue twister. Ran in the Phipps last year, and placed seventh. Probably does better here.
#6- Eviction (Nakamura Stables, ridden by E A Roman)- The six year old mare by Holy Trinity makes her 30th career start, and is one of the three in here that does not have any BC experience. That’s not a problem, because she has had plenty of other success, with 11 career wins. That’s more then anyone else in this field has attained thus far. Only two times in her career has she finished out of the money, and only once has she not made any sort of money for her trainer. That’s an interesting stat given the fact that she’s taking on the strongest field that she has probably ever seen.
#7- Conspiring (Mb Stables, ridden by A A Gallardo)- The second of two entries for Mb Stables in this race, each of which are by Commanding. Conspiring is more lightly raced, with ten starts to her credit, but she has been able to win four of them. The Grade 1 Hirsch Stakes last summer at DMR is the highlight of her career thus far. Ran sixth in the BC Distaff last year, and has managed just an optional claiming win this year, but ran second in the Santa Margarita in March.
#8- Therapy (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by C J Lanerie)- This Condottieri filly has had a fine career, with three wins in 19 starts, but she has never seen anything like the kind of field as she will in today. Last December is when she regularly began running in graded events, but has yet to pick up a win in one. Though with a little more luck, she could have two wins. She has not often raced this distance, and when she has, it has normally been on the grass. They are not the best lines in her past performances, but she might try to run with a tactic that was applied in the Grade 2 Ruffian, one of those close seconds. I would be cautious about ruling her out just because others have done more so far. She’s earned this test, and it will be interesting to see how she stacks up.
#9- Dirty Deeds (Aer Stables, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- On the outside, Dirty Deeds will look to get the job done and continue what has been a great run of recent form. Since placing fifth in the Phipps last year, she has three wins and three second place finishes, and has earned a check for her trainer in all eight of the starts. Now, Dirty Deeds returns to the Phipps and looks to do the same here. She is one of our BC Distaff runners from last year, placing fourth in that race. Most recently, she was second in the Grade 1 La Troienne, a race after winning the Grade 2 Azeri. She is consistent, with speed figures in the upper 90’s, and if she can do that again, she can win this race.