The Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park honors the late Ogden Phipps, the former chairman of The Jockey Club, and the textbook definition of the term “blue-blood.” A member of both the International Tennis and National Museum of Racing halls of fame, Phipps was a prominent New York financier, philanthropist, and Thoroughbred owner-breeder who lost a coin flip with Penny Chenery for ownership of Secretariat.

Point of Honor-Ogden Phipps
Point of Honor (left) showed off her closing skills in the Black Eyed Susan last year. She is the 2/1 second-favorite in Saturday’s Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park. (Image: Lauren Helber/AP Photo)

Phipps could afford to shake that off. His impact on the sport went beyond the nine champions he bred, including Inside Information, Buckpasser, Personal Ensign, and Easy Goer, the 1989 Belmont Stakes champion. In 2003, the year after he died, Phipps earned the Eclipse Award of Merit, the horse racing industry’s highest honor.

So it’s fitting a race named after a New York blue-blood spotlights blue-blood older fillies and mares. The 1 1/16-mile Ogden Phipps’ winner’s roll includes Phipps’ Personal Ensign, Serena’s Song, Ashado, Songbird, Abel Tasman, and last year’s winner, Midnight Bisou. It doubles as a “Win and You’re In” challenge race for this fall’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Keeneland.

The blue-bloods for this year’s Ogden Phipps come from some of the top stallions of the last generation. Morning-line favorite Ollie’s Candy (8/5) comes from Argentinian standout Candy Ride. Her fellow contender, Point of Honor (2/1), is a Curlin product. Pink Sands (6/1) came from Tapit, Blamed (10/1) from Blame (who upset Zenyatta in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic), and Golden Award (7/2) from Medaglia d’Oro.

Missing Horses Present a Great Opportunity

Not surprisingly, the small field is big on quality. It’s also big on opportunity. Aron Wellman, president and founder of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Point of Honor’s owner, pointed out a valuable byproduct of this year’s Ogden Phipps.

Eclipse Award-winning fillies Midnight Bisou and Monomoy Girl won’t be waiting in the starting gates.

“We’re not too proud to appreciate we have the opportunity to run in a Grade 1 race as prestigious as the Phipps and be able to avoid Midnight Bisou and Monomoy Girl,” Wellman told Bloodhorse. “If we can add a Grade 1 win to Point of Honor’s resume, it will thrust her into a whole different stratosphere for her ultimate residual value (as a broodmare). We’d love to get that now, knowing that in the second half of the year, it will be unavoidable to dodge those two in a major race.”

Wellman’s reluctance to see Midnight Bisou is well-founded. She set the Belmont Park stakes speed record for 1 1/16 miles in this event last year (a sizzling 1:39.69). That earned her a career-best 103 Beyer Speed Figure.

Ogden Phipps Favorites Play Quite Well

With that, what betting opportunities exist? Start with Ollie’s Candy, since the Ogden Phipps betting favorite won or finished second four of the last five times she ran. She has a versatile running style that adapts easily to whatever happens. With the capable Joel Rosario in the irons, her only worry the toll she took from her gritty, second-place finish in April’s Apple Blossom at Oaklawn.

Ogden Phipps Stakes

Morning Line (Jockey)

  1. Pink Sands, 6/1 (Jose Ortiz)
  2. Point of Honor, 2/1 (Javier Castellano)
  3. She’s a Julie, 8/1 (Ricardo Santana Jr.)
  4. Blamed, 10/1 (John Velasquez)
  5. Ollie’s Candy, 8/5 (Joel Rosario)
  6. Golden Award, 7/2 (Junior Alvarado)

Ollie’s Candy is by far the best of the four pace-setters/pressers. If you expect a speedy closer to pick up the pieces, look to Point of Honor. In her last outing in the Apple Blossom, Point of Honor overcame a horrible start and a 23-length deficit to finish third, only 2 ¾ behind Ollie’s Candy.

Point of Honor earned her career-best 97 Equibase Speed Figure in that race, which means she’d have to improve to catch Ollie’s Candy, who clocked triple-digit speed figures in nine of her 12 races. But the race does set up well for a filly who hit the board in seven of her eight career races.

A Sort of Homecoming for Pink Sands at Belmont

Should you want another closer with more speed, there’s Pink Sands. Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, who was Phipps’ last trainer, she returns to her Belmont Park home without a win in five races there. She did, however, post two seconds and three thirds.

Pink Sands comes into the gate riding a two race-winning streak. She captured the Grade 2 Inside Information in January and the Grade 3 Rampart in December, both at Gulfstream. Even so, she’s best used underneath in exotics.

The pick: Ollie’s Candy. Her versatility won’t allow a bounce in this field.