Ginger Punch will carry 123 pounds in the 1 1/16-mile dirt contest, giving four-nine pounds to her rivals. The Ogden Phipps is race 9 on the Belmont card.
In the 2007 edition Ginger Punch was well off the pace in the early going, rallied from nearly four lengths back at the top of the stretch and missed by a neck to Take D’Tour. Since that time the Stronach Stables’ homebred has been sensational, winning six of eight starts – all in stakes competition – including the Emirates Airlines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) Oct. 27 at Monmouth Park.
In her 5-year-old campaign Ginger Punch has captured the Jan. 26 Sunshine Million Distaff and May 2 Louisville Stakes (gr. II), while also finishing third in the April 5 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. II). Trainer Bobby Frankel said she is getting better all the time.
“Physically, she looks better than she did last year,” said Frankel, who also entered Rampart (gr. II) winner Spring Waltz, but did so only as a precaution. “She’s been training well.”
On June 7 Ginger Punch worked six furlongs in 1:12.30 in preparation for the Ogden Phipps. The Florida-bred, who is out of the Bold Revenue mare Nappelon, will get regular rider Rafael Bejarano. Overall, the chestnut mare is 9-5-2 from 17 starts and has earned $2,375,603.
Ginger Punch’s main competition could come from Jeff Singer’s Cowgirl’s Don’t Cry, who was cross-entered in the Fleur de Lis (gr. II) at Churchill Downs but will go in the Ogden Phipps. The 4-year-old Pure Prize filly enters off a 2 1/4-length score in the one-mile Shuvee Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont May 17. Cowgirl’s Don’t Cry has tried two turns just once and she finished last in the March 29 Next Move Handicap (gr. III).
“Ginger Punch will be the big favorite, and it’s a tough race,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who will give Mike Luzzi a leg up. “Three starts ago, when she was beaten 55 lengths, her jockey (Chuckie Lopez) took her back and fought her, and she hated it. But she’s been doing well.”
Cowgirl’s Don’t Cry is 4-1-1 from eight starts, earning $212,702.
Three of the other four challengers in the Ogden Phipps enter off victories. Marsha Naify’s Moon Catcher won a 1 1/16-mile stakes event by six lengths at Calder Race Course April 27; Darley’s Golden Velvet romped to a 3 1/2-length score in the Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III) April 19 at Hawthorne; and Country Life Farm’s Spectacular Malibu comes off an allowance victory at Belmont one month ago.
Golden Velvet, no worse than third in five North American starts, scored her first stakes victory in the Sabin Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 6 and since then has been has been training on Polytrack at Greentree. She will carry 117 pounds, including Eibar Coa. McLaughlin trains her as well.
$300,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I, Race 9, 5:15 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Mistical Plan (CA), 116, Cornelio H. Velasquez
2. Spring Waltz (KY), 119, Javier Castellano
3. Moon Catcher (MD), 116, Edgar S. Prado
4. Golden Velvet (KY), 117, Eibar Coa
5. Cowgirls Don't Cry (KY), 115, Michael J. Luzzi
6. Spectacular Malibu (MD), 114, John R. Velazquez
7. Ginger Punch (FL), 123, Rafael Bejarano