Leading contenders for this year’s American Steeplechasing filly and mare championship will face off Thursday, Aug. 8, in Saratoga Race Course’s $75,000 Mrs. Ogden Phipps Stakes.
The 2 1/16-mile race attracted a well-matched field of ten mares, including the top finishers from the $50,000 Margaret Currey Henley Stakes for female jumpers at Nashville’s Iroquois Steeplechase on May 11.
Magalen O. Bryant’s Well Fashioned returned to her best form in the Henley and surged late to a nose victory. Trained by Doug Fout, the Virginia-bred Cozzene mare had won the Crown Royal Stakes at the Steeplechase at Callaway in Georgia for the second straight year last November. Willie McCarthy, who rode Well Fashioned in the Henley, will be in the saddle.
Just missing in the Henley was Clarke Ohrstrom’s Kisser N Run, who will be seeking her first 2013 victory. In her first start of the year, the five-year-old Pleasant Tap mare had finished second in the Atlanta Steeplechase’s Georgia Cup on April 13. After winning her maiden victory last fall, Kisser N Run was acquired by Ohrstrom and won the Peapack Stakes at Far Hills, N.J. Trainer Richard Valentine named Robbie Walsh to ride.
The Henley’s third finisher, Octoraro Stables’ Euro Power, will be handled for the first time by Paddy Young. Beaten six lengths in the Henley, Euro Power is trained by Blythe Miller Davies.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s homebred Cubist will be seeking to regain the form that carried her to an impressive victory in last year’s Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Stakes at Saratoga. Fifth in the Georgia Cup, Cubist fell at the last fence of the Henley. Darren Nagle again will ride.
Gregory Hawkins’ The Grey Express, trained by Hall of Fame member Janet Elliot, tired in the Henley and was pulled up. Ross Geraghty, the reigning champion jockey, has the mount.
Champion trainer Jack Fisher, who swept Saratoga’s two steeplechase races on Aug. 1, will send out Arcadia Stable’s pairing of Opera Heroine and Take Her Tothe Top. Winner of the first running of the Mrs. Phipps in 2011, Opera Heroine will be making her first start since a second in the 2012 Valentine Memorial at Fair Hill, Md. Irish-based jockey David Crosse will ride. Xavier Aizpuru will handle Take Her Tothe Top, who is looking for her maiden win over fences.
Trainer Arch Kingsley will ride Michael Watts’ Hunter Forward, who finished third in the Fair Hill maiden race for fillies and mares. Trainer Kate Dalton named husband Bernie to ride Riverdee Stable’s Lillehammer, who easily won a Colonial Downs maiden race on June 8 after a fourth in the Fair Hill race.
Robert A. Kinsley, last year’s champion timber owner, will field Casablanca Lily, who finished sixth in the Fair Hill race, her U.S. debut. Trainer Tom Voss named Irish-based jockey Sean McDermott to ride.
Here is the field for the $75,000 Mrs. Ogden Phipps in post-position order.
Euro Power. 2008 b. f., Powerscourt (GB)—Eurosceptic, by Cozzene. Owner: Octoraro Stables. Trainer: Blythe Miller Davies. Jockey: Paddy Young. 2013 NSA record: 1-0-0-1, $5,000. 2012 record: 3-1-0-0, $9,000. Began current season with third in $50,000 Margaret Currey Henley at the Iroquois Steeplechase on May 11, beaten six lengths by Well Fashioned. Finished seventh in 2012 Mrs. Ogden Phipps after maiden victory over fences at Saratoga Open House.
Take Her Tothe Top. 2008 dk. b. or br. m., More Than Ready—Ceiling, by Boundary. Owner: Arcadia Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Xavier Aizpuru. 2013 record: 3-0-2-0, $5,400. 2012 record: No NSA starts. Finished second in Fair Hill, Md., filly-mare maiden hurdle on May 25 after a second in a similar maiden hurdle at the Foxfield Spring Races in Charlottesville, Va., on April 27. Was pulled up in her maiden start over fences at the Carolina Cup on March 30. Won at $20,000 claiming level on the flat at Belmont Park last fall.
Casablanca Lily (Ire). 2008 ch. m., Hurricane Run (Ire)—Lady Prominence, by Darshaan (GB). Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Tom Voss. Jockey: Sean G. McDermott. 2013 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $450. Passed tiring horses to finish sixth in her U.S. debut at Fair Hill against filly-mare maidens. Hurdles winner has been racing on heavy ground in Ireland and could benefit from faster going in the U.S.
Lillehammer. 2008 b. f., North Light (Ire)—Desert Dad, by Exploit. Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2013 record: 3-1-0-1, $14,250. 2012 record: 3-0-0-1, $9,000. Easily won her maiden victory at Colonial Downs in Virginia on June 8 after fourth in Fair Hill maiden. Finished third in Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes last October.
Hunter Forward (Aus). 2006 ch. m., Galileo (Ire)—Ooh Gorgeous Me, by Williamstown. Owner: Michael H. Watt. Trainer-Jockey: Arch Kingsley Jr. 2013 NSA record: 1-0-0-1, $1,500. Finished third in filly-mare maiden hurdle at Fair Hill, Md., on May 25 in her debut over fences. Claimed out of Aqueduct optional allowance claimer at end of 2012.
Opera Heroine. 2004 b. m., Partner’s Hero–Soap Opera, by Theatrical (Ire). Owner: Arcadia Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: David Crosse. 2013 record: No starts. 2012 record: 2-0-1-1, $13,700. 2011 record: 6-2-1-0, $58,200. Winner of 2011 Mrs. Ogden Phipps is making her first start since a second in Fair Hill’s 2012 Valentine Memorial. Finished third in Iroquois Steeplechase’s Margaret Currey Henley in her 2012 debut.
Cubist. 2007 ch. m., Royal Academy–Effervescent, by Citidancer. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. 2013 record: 2-0-0-0, $1,200. 2012 record: 5-2-0-0, $56,700. 2011 record: 3-0-1-1, $6,450. Fell at last in Margaret Currey Henley at Iroquois on May 11. Faded to finish fifth in the Georgia Cup at the Atlanta Steeplechase on April 13. Sheppard homebred won Saratoga’s $75,000 Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Filly and Mare Stakes in 2012.
The Grey Express. 2005 gr. or ro. m., King’s Theater (Ire)—Poppet (GB), by Trempolino. Owner: Gregory Hawkins. Trainer: Janet Elliot. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2013 record: 2-0-0-1, $3,000. 2012 record: No starts. Tired and was pulled up in Iroquois’ Margaret Currey Henley on May 11. Finished third in the Georgia Cup at the Atlanta Steeplechase on April 13. Prepared for her U.S. debut over fences with a victory in a Carolina Cup training flat race on March 30. Did not start until age five and had three victories in her native Ireland.
Kisser N Run. 2008 b. m., Pleasant Tap—Firm Kiss, by Atticus. Owner: Clarke Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. 2013 record: 2-0-2-0, $14,400. 2012 NSA record: 3-2-0-0, $55,600. Has two second-place finishes in 2013, in Georgia Cup at Atlanta Steeplechase on April 13 and Margaret Currey Henley at Iroquois Steeplechase on May 11. Won Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes for new owner and trainer. Won her first start over fences at Foxfield Fall Races on Sept. 30.
Well Fashioned. 2007 b. m., Cozzene–Crypos’ Best, by Cryptoclearance. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2013 record: 2-1-0-0, $30,900. 2012 record: 7-1-0-3, $45,500. 2011 record: 3-2-3-1, $60,600. Nosed out Kisser N Run for a victory in the $50,000 Margaret Currey Henley at Iroquois Steeplechase on May 11. Finished sixth in Georgia Cup in her 2013 debut. Collected her second straight win in Callaway’s Crown Royal Stakes last November after third-place finishes in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial and Saratoga’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps and Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords.