Arcadia Stable’s Take Her Tothe Top won her maiden steeplechase victory in spectacular fashion when the well-bred five-year-old mare pulled away to a 3 1/4-length victory in Saratoga Race Course’s $75,000 Mrs. Ogden Phipps Stakes for fillies and mares on Thursday, Aug. 8.
Take Her Tothe Top continued the Saratoga splurge of leading trainer Jack Fisher, who padded his lead in both the wins and earnings rankings with his third consecutive jumps victory of the young meet. Fisher trained the winners of both steeplechase races a week earlier, including Gil Johnston’s Mr. Hot Stuff in the $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1).
Ridden by Xavier Aizpuru, Take Her Tothe Top was well back early as Riverdee Stable’s Lillehammer raced out to a big lead under Bernie Dalton, with Gregory Hawkins’ The Grey Express tracking her pace. On the final run down Saratoga’s backstretch, Aizpuru moved Take Her Tothe Top closer to the pace and moved her outside for a clear run at the leaders.
As Lillehammer tired on the final turn, The Grey Express moved onto the lead under Ross Geraghty, but they were challenged by Take Her Tothe Top at the final fence. Janet Elliot trainee The Grey Express jumped the fence well and opened a clear lead, but Take Her Tothe Top closed relentlessly and spurted clear in the final sixteenth of a mile.
Magalen O. Bryant’s Well Fashioned, a multiple stakes winner, took third under Willie McCarthy, and Clarke Ohrstrom’s Kisser N Run, also a stakes winner, was fourth. Lillehammer finished fifth, and Arcadia Stable’s Opera Heroine was sixth in an entry with Take Her Tothe Top. Winner of the inaugural Mrs. Phipps in 2011, Opera Heroine was making her first steeplechase start in more than a year.
Michael Watts’ Hunter Forward fell at the third fence, and the field was routed around the obstacle on the second circuit while medical workers attended to jockey-trainer Arch Kingsley Jr. Hunter Forward was unhurt, and Kingsley was taken to Saratoga Hospital for treatment of a possible concussion.
The Arcadia entry went off as the 2.95-1 favorite, and Take Her Tothe Top ran the Mrs. Phipps’ 2 1/16 miles in 3:47.32 on firm turf. By More Than Ready and out of Ceiling, by Boundary, Take Her Tothe Top had won with a $20,000 tag at Belmont Park last fall. Acquired privately by Arcadia and turned over to Fisher, Take Her Tothe Top had made three previous starts over fences and had two seconds, including a head loss at the Fair Hill Races in her most recent start on May 25.