Trainer William Mott saddled Close Hatches to win the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes back in 2014, so Golden Award looks worth backing for that extended mile contest at Belmont Park on Saturday (22:36).
This five-year-old mare has won three of her nine starts and finished second on four other occasions. Golden Award was an impressive five-length winner of her only previous career appearance at this New York track.
Following a narrow nose defeat at Pimlico, she scored by 2 1/4 lengths in the Grade 3 Shuvee Stakes at Saratoga last July.
Re-opposing pair She’s A Julie and Pink Sands were both well-beaten by Golden Award that day. While she is 4lb worse off the weights with both, that doesn’t look enough for either to turn the tables.
Golden Award pulled up on her next start, but showed that to be all wrong when bouncing back with a Grade 3 handicap success at Aqueduct on her final start of last year.
She also shaped really well when a three-quarters of a length runner-up in the Royal Delta at Gulfstream Park on reappearance. As Golden Award tried to give 6lb to the winner, Cookie Dough, that effort can be upgraded.
Although a race like the Ogden Phipps Stakes demands more, Mott has been among the winners recently. With Junior Alvarado back on board and yet to finish outside the first two on her in four rides, Golden Award appeals most.
The second and third from Oaklawn Park’s April Blossom Handicap, Ollie’s Candy and Point Of Honor also duke it out again here. As the latter is now 3lb better off at the weights, that swings things in her favor.
It was the way George Weaver’s four-year-old filly stayed on to be nearest at the finish which suggests Point Of Honor can turn the tables.
Given the revised weights off which she meets Ollie’s Candy, it is hard to see why some oddsmakers have the April Blossom second as favorite.
Point Of Honor is less exposed than John Sadler’s filly after just seven career races. She has also won more races in fewer chances.
There has been good fortune and narrow margins behind the two graded wins recorded by Ollie’s Candy. With Weaver’s stable also among the winners of late, Point Of Honor is taken to reverse form and could be the main danger.
As the aforementioned Pink Sands defeated Cookie Dough on her penultimate start and comes into this race off consecutive victories, she could have improved since that last meeting with Golden Award.
Although she is one of the more experienced fillies in this field with 11 starts under her belt, most of those runs have been over shorter distances. Pink Sands is unexposed at the Ogden Phipps Stakes trip, then.
An extended mile should be within her on breeding. The fact she held Cookie Dough by half-a-length in a Grade 3 at Gulfstream Park proves that.
This five-year-old may appreciate this test now she has had more time to strengthen. Following a Grade 2 success over 7f at the same venue in January, Pink Sands cannot be discounted from making the frame.
This running of the Ogden Phipps Stakes looks to be between the four fillies mentioned. Barring a major shock, the win, place and show should go to three from the quartet.