Clarke Ohrstrom’s Kisser N Run, the reigning Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare champion, will be looking to rebound from a lackluster performance when she meets a field of veterans and newcomers in Saratoga Race Course’s $75,000 Mrs. Ogden Phipps Stakes on Thursday. Post time is 12:25 p.m., and TVG will provide live coverage.
Also in the field are two previous winners of the Mrs. Phipps, owner-trainer Kate Dalton’s Cat Feathers, the 2012 winner and filly-mare champion, and Arcadia Stable’s Opera Heroine, who won in the first edition of the 2 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares in 2011.
Kisser N Run seized the 2013 title with a late-season rush that included victories in the Peapack Stakes at Far Hills, N.J., and the Crown Royal Stakes at the Steeplechase at Callaway in Georgia. She opened the current season with a victory in the Atlanta Steeplechase’s Georgia Cup, but she ran evenly in her most recent start, the Margaret Currey Henley at the Iroquois Steeplechase on May 10.
Kisser N Run’s trainer, Richard Valentine, will be seeking his second stakes win of the current Saratoga stand, after Awesome Pearl’s upset of the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 24. Robbie Walsh will again ride Kisser N Run.
Although she has run creditably, Cat Feathers is looking for her first win since the 2012 Mrs. Phipps. She started the current season with a third against males in the $50,000 Carolina Cup and most recently finished fourth in an open allowance hurdle at Parx Racing on July 1. Veteran jockey Bernie Dalton will ride Cat Feathers for his wife.
Kate Dalton also entered Riverdee Stable’s Lillehammer, who is making her first start in a year, since a fifth-place finish in the 2013 Mrs. Phipps. Xavier Aizpuru will ride.
Like Cat Feathers, Opera Heroine has run consistently since her 2011 victory although winless through that period. So far this year, she has a second in the Georgia Cup and a third in the Margaret Currey Henley. Current leading trainer Jack Fisher named Jeff Murphy to ride Opera Heroine.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard is looking for his first Saratoga jumps victory of the current meet, and he will take two shots at the Mrs. Phipps. Sully’s Approach, owned by Bill Pape, was pulled up in the Henley, her only start over fences this year. She will be ridden by current top jockey Willie McCarthy.
Darren Nagle, who suffered a broken leg in a training accident in March, has the call on Sheppard’s Brilliant Match, who ran away to a huge victory in an Aiken Fall maiden hurdle last October. She has been running well in flat races on Presque Isle Downs’ Tapeta Footings synthetic surface.
Completing the field is Beverly R. Steinman’s homebred Secret Reward, who was second in a maiden hurdle for fillies and mares at the Fair Hill Races in Maryland on May 24. Gerard Galligan will ride for trainer Doug Fout.
Here is the field for the $75,000 Mrs. Ogden Phipps in post-position order.
Cat Feathers. 2008 dk. b. or br. f., Catienus—Mistress Hemming, by Quiet American. Owner-trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2014 record: 3-0-0-1, $7,700. 2013 record: 6-0-2-1, $32,758. 2012 Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare champion. Most recently finished fourth in a Parx Racing allowance hurdle on July 1. Finished third in Carolina Cup for novices in 2014 debut and then was fifth in an Atlanta Steeplechase optional allowance hurdle. Won 2012 Mrs. Ogden Phipps at Saratoga.
Secret Reward. 2009 ch. m., Eurosilver—Vente, by Dynaformer. Owner: Beverly R. Steinman. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. 2014 record: 2-0-1-0, $3,600. 2013 record: No starts. Homebred mare finished second in Fair Hill maiden hurdle for fillies and mares on May 24 after being disqualified from third to fifth in a similar race at Foxfield Spring on April 26 in her racing debut.
Brilliant Match. 2008 dk. b. or br. m., Partner’s Hero—Gemini’s Gem, by Gemini Dreamer. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. 2014 record: No NSA starts. 2013 NSA record: 3-1-0-0, $9,750 Homebred broke through with a runaway victory in an Aiken Fall maiden race for fillies and mares. Has had two solid performances on Presque Isle Downs’ Tapeta Footings synthetic surface, including a victory in a maiden flat race for fillies and mares in her most recent start on June 26.
Kisser N Run. 2008 b. m., Pleasant Tap—Firm Kiss, by Atticus. Owner: Clarke Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. 2014 record: 2-1-0-0, $20,500. 2013 record: 6-2-2-0, $95,400. Never found her best stride in Iroquois Steeplechase’s Margaret Currey Henley Stakes and finished a distant fourth. Opened 2014 with 6 1/4-length victory in $30,000 Georgia Cup on April 19. Claimed the 2013 Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare Champion award with late-season wins in Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes and the Steeplechase at Callaway’s Crown Royal. Finished fourth in Saratoga’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps before eighth in Saratoga’s Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords last year.
Opera Heroine. 2004 b. m., Partner’s Hero–Soap Opera, by Theatrical (Ire). Owner: Arcadia Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Jeff Murphy. 2014 record: 2-0-1-1, $10,400. 2013 NSA record: 4-0-1-0, $20,750. Began 2014 with second in Georgia Cup, then was third in Iroquois Steeplechase’s Margaret Currey Henley Stakes on May 10. Winner of 2011 Mrs. Ogden Phipps.
Sully’s Approach. 2009 dk. b. or br. filly, Partner’s Hero—Push My Luck, by Press Card. Owner: Bill Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2014 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2013 record: 3-1-0-0, $7,000. Pulled up in Georgia Cup at Atlanta Steeplechase on April 19. Finished fourth in Steeplechase at Callaway’s Crown Royal Stakes in final 2013 start.
Lillehammer. 2008 b. f., North Light (Ire)—Desert Dad, by Exploit. Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2014 record: No starts. 2013 record: 4-1-0-1, $17,250. Went to the sidelines after fifth in last year’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps Stakes for fillies and mares at Saratoga. Easily won maiden victory at Colonial Downs in June 2013. Finished third in Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes in 2012.